Could a Food Sensitivity be Causing Your Constipation?
In some people, certain foods can cause intestinal backups.
As a Holistic Nutritionist, there’s not a lot that tells me more about your internal health than your poop! And not pooping can tell me things as well. Constipation can be caused by food intolerance and/or sensitivity.
Poop: What’s Normal
Humans are supposed to have a bowel movement 1-3 times per day, and it should look like a milk chocolate sausage. If that is not the case, there might be some dysfunction in your digestive system — and it’s often due to something you’re eating.
Possible causes of constipation
When we eat a foods we are sensitive to it can cause a reaction, which might include constipation, bloating, cramps and nausea. All of the above are uncomfortable, especially on a continuing basis, but constipation is very common problem for people.
Although it can be slightly embarrassing to talk about, in terms of your health it’s better to create some dialogue, call a spade a spade, and get to the root cause rather than staying in pain and discomfort.
Food intolerance is one of the most common causes of constipation. When we lack the specific enzymes we need to digest a food, like lactase for dairy, our food does not get properly broken down and digested. It starts to ferment in our gut causing all sorts of science-project-like bacteria to accumulate. The accumulation of the bad bacteria can cause imbalances in our gut and can lead to issues like constipation.
Constipation is not only uncomfortable, but can be dangerous. We eliminate most of our toxins through our poop, so when we don’t have regular bowel movements, those toxins and bad bacteria stay inside our body. We get bloated, experience abdominal pain and block our colon, which then leads to malabsorption of nutrients and even reabsorption of toxins.
“We are what we eat” is a common saying. But really, we are what we digest or absorb from what we eat. So even if we are eating lots of veggies, clean proteins and fruits, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we are absorbing the goodness that comes from our food. Sometimes, it just sits in our stomach and then our colon for large amounts of time. NOT helpful.
What to do about constipation
The most common food intolerances are wheat (and gluten), corn, soy, dairy and eggs. If you are not sure what is specifically causing your constipation you can try doing an elimination of the foods listed above for 2 weeks. Once you reintroduce them, you will be able to see how your body reacts and confirm which foods you are intolerant too. Along with the foods listed, there is a group of foods called FODMAPs. FODMAPs are a group of carbohydrates that tend to be poorly absorbed by the small intestine and passed through to the large intestine causing constipation. FODMAPs include asparagus, artichokes, onions (all), leek bulb, garlic, legumes/pulses, sugar snap peas, onion and garlic salts, beetroot, Savoy cabbage, celery, sweet corn, apples, pears, mango, nashi pears, watermelon, nectarines, peaches and plums.
You don’t have to eliminate all these foods at once. Start to keep a food journal and write down any symptoms that you feel after you eat any of these foods. If you start to see a trend, that’s when you know you should remove it from your diet for a period.