Common causes of constipation and remedies

Common causes of constipation: Prevention and remedies (Image via Unsplash Giorgio Trovato)
Common causes of constipation: Prevention and remedies (Image via Unsplash Giorgio Trovato)

If we understand the root causes of constipation, we can easily find home remedies that could help relieve the symptoms without depending on medications. Constipation is characterized by difficulty in passing stool. Most people complain of discomfort and pain while passing stool. Stools are often hard or lumpy in nature.

The severity of these symptoms can vary from person to person. It might be rare for some people, while in some cases it might be chronic too. It can be caused by dehydration, improper diet, certain medications, illness and mental health issues.

Chronic constipation can cause irritation to the intestinal wall and trigger piles too. Diet and lifestyle habits contribute to the causes of constipation and healthy eating habits can prevent you from being constipated.


Foods that cause constipation

Gluten-rich foods are among the common causes of constipation. (Image via Unsplash/Wesual Click)
Gluten-rich foods are among the common causes of constipation. (Image via Unsplash/Wesual Click)

Certain foods can aggravate the symptoms of constipation. Limiting these foods not only reduces constipation but also stomach bloating and flatulence.

Check out the list of these foods below:

1) Gluten-rich foods

Gluten is a plant protein from which many people have allergies or sensitivities. Gluten-rich grains and products are among the most common causes of constipation.

Celiac disease is a rare disorder that's associated with allergic conditions like wheezing. Try to avoid the following grains that naturally contain gluten:

  • wheat
  • barley
  • rye
  • triticale
  • spelt
  • kamut
  • wheat berries
  • farina
  • farro
  • couscous

A gluten-free diet consisting of certified gluten-free oats, quinoa, buckwheat, almond flour and coconut flour can reduce constipation.


2) High-lactose dairy

Lactose intolerance is among the causes of constipation and is also associated with bloating, gas, nausea and related symptoms. Cow milk contains high amounts of lactose and must be avoided.

Try phasing out the following dairy products:

  • cheese
  • whole milk, skim milk, low-fat milk
  • yogurt

As a substitute, you can opt for milk alternatives, including almond milk, coconut milk and cashew milk.


3) Processed grains

Refined grains do not contain dietary fiber and, hence, don't pass through the gut smoothly.

White flour, white rice, and polished grains are some examples of processed grains. Removing the bran and fiber is required to prepare baked goods, as this process improves the texture and taste of the final products. Refined grains are among the most common causes of constipation.


Other reasons for constipation

Common causes of constipation include:

  • dehydration
  • low levels of physical activity
  • delaying bowel emptying voluntarily
  • irregular daily routine
  • certain medications, including antacids, pain medications, and diuretics
  • older people often suffer from constipation
  • certain conditions, such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease, and diabetes
  • problems with the colon or rectum, including intestinal obstruction, IBS, or diverticulosis
  • overuse or misuse of laxatives
  • hormonal problems can also lead to constipation

Although hormonal problems are not among the most common causes of constipation, they can be a contributing factor in certain cases.


Causes of constipation: Healthy habits to follow

Dehydration is among the common causes of constipation (Image via Unsplash/Engin Akyurt)
Dehydration is among the common causes of constipation (Image via Unsplash/Engin Akyurt)

Easy remedies can help you with immediate constipation relief at home. Try incorporating these good habits

  • Drink 1.5 to 2 quarts of water, to hydrate the body. You can also drink fresh fruit juices.
  • Limit consumption of alcohol and caffeinated drinks, or avoid them altogether.
  • Add fiber-rich foods to your diet, like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and cereals. Your daily intake of fiber should be between 20 and 35 grams.
  • Cut down on low-fiber foods, like refined wheat and similar products.
  • Try walking, swimming or biking along with other free-hand exercises.
  • Keep your bowel movements regular; do not stop the urge to pass stool unnecessarily.
  • Raise your knees when sitting in the toilet by keeping a stool on the floor.
  • Use laxatives only on the advice of a doctor. Do not overuse or misuse laxatives, as they may cause long-term problems.

Managing the common causes of constipation can have a significant impact on the severity of symptoms.

Avoiding foods that cause constipation and incorporating alternative options and foods that help with constipation can help manage the symptoms without the use of harmful medication. Consult your doctor regularly for proper advice.


Indranil Biswas is a nutritionist and personal trainer with a diploma in dietetics and personal training with a specialization in sports nutrition and strength training.


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Edited by Bhargav