Foods That Cause Constipation
Foods that cause constipation are typically low in fiber. Examples of these types of food include: cheese, chips, ice cream, and other processed foods. Eating high-fiber foods is an effective treatment of constipation.
The most common cause of constipation is a diet that is low in fiber and high in fat. People who eat plenty of high-fiber foods are less likely to become constipated.
Fiber -- both soluble and insoluble -- is the part of fruits, vegetables, and grains that the body cannot digest. Soluble fiber dissolves easily in water and takes on a soft, gel-like texture in the intestines. Insoluble fiber passes through the intestines almost unchanged. The bulk and soft texture of fiber help prevent hard, dry stools that are difficult to pass.
A low-fiber diet often plays a key role in constipation among older adults. Older adults may lose interest in eating and choose convenience foods, which are usually low in fiber. In addition, difficulties with chewing or swallowing may force older people to eat soft foods that are processed and low in fiber.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, Americans eat an average of 5 to 14 grams of fiber daily, falling short of the 20 to 35 grams recommended by the American Dietetic Association.
Low-fiber foods that can cause constipation include:
- Ice cream
- Snacks like chips and pizza
- Processed foods, such as instant mashed potatoes or frozen dinners.
Both children and adults frequently eat too many refined and processed foods from which the natural fiber has been removed. Many snacks and prepackaged meals fall into this category.
(Click Causes of Constipation for more information about foods that cause constipation.)