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Constipation may cause headache, irritability, abdominal pain and bloating. To keep your bowels on their best behavior, pay closer attention to the foods you eat. Several everyday foods have a reputation for slowing down your system. Keep this constipation cheat sheet handy so you know which foods to watch out for and which to add to your diet.

The most constipating foods

  1. Cheese and milk: Dairy products can slow digestion, especially if they are high in fat. They also contain lactose which may cause gas and bloating for those who suffer from lactose intolerance.
  2. Red meat: Red meat is high in fat and iron, and low in fiber. This can slow down the digestion process. Pile on the veggies if a T-bone, ribeye or porterhouse is on your plate.
  3. Chocolate: Chocolate is high in fat and sugar, two nutrients which may play havoc on your bowels. Chocolate also contains caffeine which may cause dehydration, aggravating constipation.

Foods to consume with caution

  1. Bananas: This favorite tropical fruit may cause occasional constipation or provide relief depending on its ripeness. Green bananas’ high starch content may slow you down, but yellow bananas’ soluble fiber supports healthy bowels.
  2. Bread: Many people are sensitive to gluten, the protein found in wheat, rye and other grains. If you are gluten-sensitive, breads and baked goods may trigger occasional constipation.
  3. Potato chips: This high-fat, salt-loaded snack may slow down your digestive system as well as lead to bloating if you overindulge. Enjoy a few, then put the bag aside.

Foods which support regularity

  1. Yogurt: Fermented foods such as yogurt, kimchi and sauerkraut contain beneficial bacteria which aids digestion. Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are especially known to support digestive health.
  2. Beans: Beans are rich in constipation-fighting soluble fiber, but consuming them may cause gas. A side effect-free way to boost your fiber intake is gluten-free Nature’s Calling Sunfiber. This fiber supplement made from guar beans is specially formulated to be gentle on your system. Plus, it dissolves invisibly into most foods and beverages, making it easy to care for your insides.
  3. Blueberries: This high-fiber fruit supports your digestive health. Sprinkle them on your cereal, blend them into a smoothie or eat them by the handful. They’re great for kids, too.