What foods cause constipation? Making a list of "answers" to this question has more than often evoke witch-hunts.
A prominent victim is my daily staple, rice. I am very upset when people simply put "rice" and "rice-noodles" on the offending list.
While it doesn't take high I.Q. to perceive they mean polished rice, I feel it is fairer to bring out two popular prevalent theories in classifying certain foods as plagues to the gut:
The Pro-Dietary Fiber Camp
This is the camp which believes constipation is caused by lack of dietary fiber. They advise mainly against:
1. Grains stripped of natural fiber such as processed rice and wheat is considered constipating. So are processed and highly-sugared fruit juices. Italians should come out to defend arborio.
2. Hydrogenated and animal fats loaded food - "hard to break down". Mayo clinic cited that food high in fat and sugar content tend to be low in fiber content. I know hydrogenated fat is evil but some animal fats are lovely...fat in raw fresh salmon, cod, beef and goat's milk are among my favourites. Lactose intolerance of cow's milk may be constipating. But cheese? I make my own panir cheese - I know I don't have to add anything evil. This source claims it's because only 20-30 per cent of cheese are digested. Really, I find very little information why animal fat is considered constipating. There are actually many types of fats in the gourmet world, I think the pro-dietary camp really should be more specific.
3. Drinks containing generous amount of caffeine and sugar. Caffeine is dehydrating, so is alcohol. But sugar? I thought karo syrup/corn syrup is a much hyped constipation remedy.
4. Extremists even said meat is constipating, especially red meat.
The Anti-Dietary Fiber Camp
This camp of course answers to what foods cause constipation are:
1. Dietary fiber. They say constipation is not caused by lack of dietary fiber. Rather, excessive fiber causes constipation and even hurts the intestines.
2. Diary products.
4. Wheat products.
5. Cooked proteins.
6. Some cooked vegetables. In fact, they are against vegetables, grains and beans.
They believe organic chemical substances opioid peptides found in milk and wheat are constipating whereas cooked proteins and vegetables produce another constipating substance beta carbolines.
What to eat then? They recommend fresh fruits and raw animal food. ( Shudder ) I find the dairy and wheat products theory fascinating because I cannot tolerate too much of both. However, I really don't have the courage to pursue a primitive diet of raw meat and egg yolks.
There are other theories other than the two above. For instance, "wisdom from the east". They may not be that popular in the English speaking, American dominated part of the world but they have their supporters, too.
Ask a Chinese physician :" What foods cause constipation?"
He will tell you about "hot" food and "cold" food. "Hot" food makes a "hot" body constipated whereas "cold" food makes a "cold" body constipated.
Symptoms of a "hot" body can be bad breath, irritability, mouth ulcers, thirst with hard and dry stools. What foods cause constipation for a "hot" body? Examples are: hot and spicy food.
Some symptoms of a "cold" body are: sluggishness, abdominal pain that feels better with heat. Samples of what foods cause constipation for a "cold" body are : chilled, cold, cool, or raw food which, would include a number of fruits and vegetables.
Of course, only a Chinese physician can tell you whether your are "hot" or "cold", and what kind of food to avoid. The one I consulted gave me herbs to take care of my pancreas and gall bladder as well "to balance the whole mechanism".
Eating Right is Science
"What is left to eat then?"
By the time, we look at three theories so far : What foods cause constipation seems to be all foods.
I must bring out the banana issue. Ha ha. Banana, is the beloved constipation remedy for most of us. However, mothers report feeding too much bananas constipate their babies. So, the same food which relieves constipation can also cause constipation when eaten too much.
For me, a serving of noodles is fine. Two servings constipate me. Two cobs of corn is okay, four cobs is not okay at all. In terms of quantity the French custom of going for small servings, is much more comfortable for the digestive system.
Quality is important. As mentioned at the outset, the quality of rice matters so as not to constipate. No denial natural food is premium. Even cheese.
Eat the right combo of food such as taking cheese with wine helps to digest the "constipating" cheese". Or, enjoy steak with salads.
Eat at the right time. The anti-dietary fiber has a theory that eating banana late at night can constipate a woman temporarily. I don't if that's true. What I am sure is, a heavy supper leads to no desire for breakfast, taking nothing for breakfast means no "fuel" for the gut for a bowel movement. Too much snacks in between meals confuses the autonomous nervous system.
The way a food is cooked may also affect the welfare of your gut. It is said rare/raw beef that contains parasites is constipating. Medium/medium rare is best. Well-done is too hard to digest. ( Rolls eyes ) I am sure this rule doesn't apply to wagyū unless you are that rich to afford to eat a lot of it.
In the end, the answer to our question also differs from person to person. While what most of the food types discussed here do clog our gut, a person with celiac disease on the other hand will end up with diarrhea.
So, what foods cause constipation for you? It is your responsible to experiment and find out.
Author Danielle Svetcov, who suffered constipation herself apparently shared the pain of many who need to think twice before indulging in baguettes, bagels, pancakes, doughnuts,pastas...She wrote a book on recipes designed to avoid foods that cause constipation in a delicious way.
Since I survive on several types of ethnic food and rarely American diet, I am not worried about finding options. Still, I think Ms Svetcov's ingenuity can make fans of American diet very happy.
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