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Most Common Constipation Culprits Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by [deleted]

Most Common Constipation Culprits

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.


Consti­pation / IBS-C are real problems which can cause signif­icant inconv­eni­ence, discom­fort, and even disability for some indivi­duals. For most people, these are likely to be food sensit­ivity problems, as opposed to irreve­rsible pathol­ogical diseases. Chronic consti­pation is not an inevitable conseq­uence of aging; it can usually be alleviated by knowing which foods are gumming up the works.


Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, is commonly divided into two main types: “IBS-C” (IBS with consti­pation) and “IBS-D” (IBS with diarrhea). This article focuses on IBS-C.

GOLDEN RULE OF IBS-C: IBS-C is primarily about indige­stion. If a food is hard to digest, it will slow things down. It’s that simple.

When exploring the connection between your symptoms and these foods for yourself, keep in mind that poorly­-di­gested foods can cause delayed or prolonged symptoms because they are processed so slowly. Most of these foods can affect digestion for several days after you swallow them. It is also important to recognize that sluggish digestion can cause all kinds of other problems north of the intest­ines, including heartburn, reflux (“GERD”), burping and hiccups.


Gluten is a sticky protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and triticale. This protein has a special globular structure that our enzymes can’t fully break down. Other grains can pose problems for our digestive tract, though, even those that don’t contain gluten, such as corn and oats. The grain that seems easiest on the innards may be rice, so some people may tolerate rice better than other grains.


Casein is a sticky protein found in most dairy products. Baby cows come with a special enzyme in their stomachs called rennet, which is designed especially to break down casein. Humans do not have rennet, so casein is very hard for us to digest. Hard cheeses and high-p­rotein yogurts (such as “Greek style” yogurts) are especially good at triggering IBS-C.


Lots of veggies happen to be crucifers, including broccoli, kale, and cabbage. This veggie family contains high amounts of an indige­stible short-­chain carboh­ydrate (or oligos­acc­haride) called raffinose. Human enzymes cannot break down raffinose into sugar, but bacteria in the colon love to munch on raffinose and turn it into a lovely gas called methane. This will not only make you unpopular at parties, but can slow digestion and cause signif­icant bloating and discom­fort, as well.


Legumes are beans and pod vegeta­bles, including soy, lentils, green beans, peas, and garbanzo beans. There are two main reasons why these foods are hard to digest. One is that they contain lots of raffinose (see #3), and the other is that they contain high amounts of soluble fiber. Soluble fiber acts like a sponge in the digestive tract—it absorbs water and swells into a big sticky gel that can form a large, lovely CLOG. Soluble fiber cannot be digested except by bacteria in the colon, so it also eventually forms delightful gases.


Nuts are very closely related to legumes. Nuts and legumes are both types of seeds, and therefore contain similar compounds, namely indige­stible short-­chain carboh­ydrates and soluble fiber. All seeds also contain enzyme inhibitors which interfere with our ability to digest the proteins within these foods. These inhibitors are damaged or destroyed by cooking, but we often do not cook nuts before eating them. This may be why some people find nuts even more difficult to digest than legumes, which are always thoroughly cooked before eating.