If you have that bloated feeling or can’t move your bowels, you’ll want to know what causes constipation and how to get relief.

Not being able to visit the bathroom can leave you miserable. You lose your appetite and have a perpetual heaviness in your stomach. Here’s some insight into the causes of constipation and what you can do to avoid it.

What is constipation?

Constipation refers to the lack of or infrequent bowel movements. Your stool is hard and dry. Furthermore, you may experience anal fissure (the tearing of the anal canal), hemorrhoids (inflammation of veins in the anus), and fecal impaction (immobile feces that gets stuck in the rectum).

What Causes Constipation?


First of all, constipation occurs when there are sudden changes in your diet and activities. It may also happen if you don’t take in enough fiber. Those who take lots of dairy products tend to constipate as well.

2. Inactivity

Also, you may become constipated if you’re inactive. Exercise, according to research conducted on teens from Hong Kong, increases blood flow to the muscles and keeps them moving. The condition worsens if you resist the urge to move your bowels.

3. Stress

Stress suppresses the gastrocolic reflex, which regulates bowel movements. Since it redirects oxygen to the brain, it limits secondary functions like these.

You will recall being too busy to visit the restroom. Stress may have caused you to resist the urge to poop. Stool hardens and blocks the rectum when this happens.

4. Overusing laxatives

Laxative dependency may cause your colon to stop reacting to usual laxative doses. As you use more of them, you’ll need increasing amounts to work. Consequently, they’ll lead to more instances of constipation.

5. Medication

Medications like antidepressants, iron pills, or powerful pain drugs may restrict bowel movements. Antacid medicines with calcium will also harden your stools.

6. Eating Disorders

Eating disorders like anorexia may trigger the condition. A study of teens proves that it’s a complication of anorexia. Anorexia distends the colon, thus being one of the causes of constipation.

7. Pregnancy

Constipation is a common problem among pregnant women. The female hormone, progesterone, relaxes smooth muscles in the digestive tract, causing food to pass through it more slowly than usual. Hence, constipation arises.

8. Nerves and muscles

Furthermore, you may have weak muscles in your digestive tract. Food may not pass through it as efficiently as usual. If this is the case, moving your bowels will be a task.

9. Neurological

People often ignore the neurological causes of constipation. It’s evident that a spinal cord injury will prevent bowel movements. Other conditions, like autonomic neuropathy and Parkinsons, are less so but restrict them as well.

The signs and symptoms of constipation

Don’t stress yourself over the number of bowel movements you’re supposed to have in a day because there is none. Having bowel movements between three times a week and three times daily is normal. As a guide, you probably have constipation if you move your bowels fewer than three times a week.

Other signs of constipation include:

  • Dry, hard stool that you can’t pass
  • A constant feeling that you need to move your bowels
  • Heavy or blocked intestines
  • A bloated abdomen
  • A lack of appetite
  • And sluggishness

Note that it’s not uncommon for constipation to result from back pain. An illness like Irritable Bowel Syndrome may cause constipation and backaches.

Foods to Avoid with Constipation

The answer to constipation relief may be on your dinner plate. Here are a few foods to avoid when you feel bloated.

1. Dairy

First of all, stay away from milk and cheeses when your gut feels heavy. Experts like Mark Spielmann, a nutritionist at La Rabida Children’s Hospital in Chicago, suggests that foods made from milk may cause constipation, particularly in toddlers. Substitute them with fruit sherbets.

2. Red meat

While beef itself doesn’t cause this illness, it replaces fiber. Too many servings of red meat may make it difficult to move your bowels. Furthermore, a review of several studies proved that it has associations with colorectal cancer. Make sure that your steaks come with fibrous foods like baked potatoes or salads.

3. Snacks

Also, snacks like potato chips automatically replace fiber. Because they are high in fat, they cause delayed digestion, a feeling similar to constipation.

4. Frozen dinners

A frozen dinner is a convenient meal solution, but like snacks, are high in fat. They are also high in sodium, which stops food from moving through the colon.

5. Cookies

Another favorite that you’ll sadly have to miss when you have constipation is that chocolate cookie. Cookies have refined carbohydrates which are difficult to break down. They lack fiber and a low in fluid.

6. Bananas

We may have shocked you by putting bananas on this list of foods. Bananas are a double-edged food sword – they can cause or prevent constipation.

Ripe bananas help to push food through the digestive system while green, unripe ones may trigger constipation. Make sure that you eat ripe bananas if you expect constipation relief.

7. Fried food

Your fried chicken drumstick is high in fat and extremely binding. It slows movement through the digestive tract. Therefore, it takes a long time to break down. Steaming is a preferred alternative to frying.

Activities to Avoid with Constipation

There are things you should never do when you have this condition. Keep away from these activities.

1. Not exercising

Roundabout as it sounds, this is essential advice. Keep away from not working out.

You probably visit the bathroom soon after you work out. Low levels of physical activity increase the risk of constipation because they limit blood flow to the gut. They also restrict digestion.

Conversely, exercise increases blood flow to the digestive tract. Any workout is helpful.

2. Drinking alcohol or caffeine

Drinking too much alcohol and coffee may limit your bowel movements. Coffee limits the antidiuretic hormone (ADH) and causes diuresis. This condition worsens the symptoms of constipation. A study shows a relationship between drinking and GI symptoms.

3. Taking too many calcium supplements

Calcium and iron supplements can cause this ailment because they prevent the gastrointestinal system from contracting. If you have to take them because of an existing medical condition, you can ask your doctor for alternative options.

4. Taking too many painkillers

If you struggle to go to the bathroom after taking over-the-counter painkillers, you may want to remove them from your medicine cabinet. Again, consult your doctor for alternative medicines.

In all, you can beat constipation by avoiding foods and activities that will increase its risk.

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