10 Healthy Foods that Cause Constipation & Bloating

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Written By

Lauryn

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Expert Reviewed By

Dr. Lauryn Lax, OTD, MS

Dr. Lauryn, OTD, MS is a doctor of occupational therapy, clinical nutritionists and functional medicine expert with 25 years of clinical and personal experience in healing from complex chronic health issues and helping others do the same.

Food 1080X675 1 | 10 Healthy Foods That Cause Constipation &Amp; Bloating

We all know that processed foods, fried foods, sugar, low water intake and often times gluten can cause constipation.

But what about when you are “eating healthy” and “doing everything right” when it comes to a clean diet?

Just because a food is healthy does NOT mean you cannot fully digest it.

Here are 10 (common) healthy foods that may be giving you some GI discomfort or distress:

  1. Lean Meats (Ground Turkey, Tuna & Chicken Breast)
    Protein does a body good, but if you are low on HCL (stomach acid) then you may struggle more with bloating and/or constipation—especially after a meal. Healthy fats can also aid in digestion—helping lubricate the digestive tract to move food through the digestive process. Since lean meats are low in fat, if we don’t have enough fat in our meal, constipation may be a side effect. Lastly, since proteins are low in fiber, it’s also important to eat veggies (especially leafy greens) with your meal.
    Choose This:
  • Add fat and veggies alongside your lean meats.
  • Vary up your protein
  • Take a Betaine HCL or 1 Tbsp.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar in water to boost stomach acid.
     

    1. Almonds & Other Nuts
      “Nut gut” is real—that feeling of constipation after eating nuts. Nuts contain Phytic Acid—the main storage form of the mineral phosphorus in nuts, beans, soy and grains that helps protect these plants from predators and weather conditions in the wild—(like “steel armor”).

    Although birds, rodents and some insects have the “guts of steel” to eat and digest phytic-acid foods (grains, nuts) in the wild, humans do not. We simply don’t have the enzymes necessary to properly digest phytates. When we eat phytic-acid rich foods (like nuts), a war breaks loose in out gut—disturbing the natural process of digestion and food breakdown.
    Enter: Undigested food (or impaired digestion).
    Enter: Constipation. Bloating. And the fermenting of foods (in your gut).

    Choose This:

  • Opt for “raw, natural” nuts and soak nuts overnight prior to consuming if you get constipated easily on nuts.
    1. Yogurt

    Yogurt gets ALOT of praise in health and nutrition world for being a “good source” of probiotics. However NOT all yogurts are created equal, and if you’re opting for a low-fat, processed, commercial brand of yogurt, chances are that you are NOT getting your daily dose of probiotics nor the “gut-boosting” benefits they claim.

    For example, you’d have to eat 25 individual Danon Active-yogurts (Scourboutakos et al, 2017) to actually get any benefit of the probiotics on the label. Most commercial yogurts are highly processed and heated to the point that they extract the probiotic (live and active) cultures in the first place.

    Many commercial brands also add thickeners, sweeteners and additives to yogurts to make them look more better, “taste better,” and, consequently, leave you feeling bloated.

    Lastly, yogurt, like other dairy products, contain lactose. Most human bodies are LOW in the digestive enzymes “lactase” to help you digest that lactose. Couple this with a low fat or fat free variety (missing fats to help with digestion), and bloating is a natural side effect.

    Choose This:

    • Full fat, fermented, grass-fed plain yogurt
    • Coconut yogurt (Like Koconut  OR Coyo)

     

    1. Eggs & Egg Whites
      “Egg belly” is real—that feeling of nausea, bloating or peristalis—like food is sitting in your belly. The most common culprit? Egg whites. Egg whites contain a protein known as albumin that often triggers a histamine (allergic or inflammatory) response in the gut—including: stomach cramps, diarrhea, constipation and nausea.Eggs are also subject to contain more bacteria than other foods—like salmonella—in their raw and undercooked state. In addition, bacteria and toxins on the outer egg shell can come into contact with the egg, prior to cooking, when we crack them or the shell ends up in the omelet.Lastly, egg quality matters. We eat what our animals eat, and if we eat animal products and animals that ate rat feces, chicken poop and processed-food diets, then the proteins we consume are not as healthy. If we eat animals (and egg byproducts) that were fed nourishing real-food diets and roamed well and free on their land, we are more likely to feel better as a result.

    Choose This:

    • Whole pasture-raised
    • Try duck eggs (if chicken eggs bother you).
    • Eat the yolks.
    • Wash the outer shell prior to cracking for consumption.
    • Vary up the way you cook your eggs (you may find you feel better eating scrambled as opposed to “over easy,” etc.)

     

    1. Brussels Sprouts, Kale & Broccoli

    Veggies do a body good, but cruciferous veggies—like Brussels, kale, broccoli as well as cauliflower and cabbage—contain complex sugars called raffinose that can produce gas. They’re also rich in soluble fiber, which doesn’t break down until reaching the small intestine causing gas and bloating as well

    Choose This:

    • Fully cooked and roasted cruciferous veggies in olive oil or coconut oil.
    • Remove the stems from kale and broccoli.
    • Eat in moderate amounts.

     

    1. Avocados & Apples

    Avocados and apples are nutrient rich foods, but they do contain FODMAPS—difficult to digest complex sugars—which can be constipating or bloat-inducing for some. If your gut is already “leaky” or less digestively sound then avocados may not make you feel the greatest.
    Choose This:

    • Smaller Amounts of Avocado/Apples
    • Baked Apples
    • Guacamole (stirred and mixed) Raw Avocado Slices
    • Avocado Oil Mayo over Raw Avocado

     

    1. Coconut Milk & Almond Milk

    Many dairy-free alternatives contain the additive carrageenan (a gum derived from seaweed and used as a stabilizer in organic and natural foods), linked to ulcers, inflammation, and other gastrointestinal problems.

    Choose This:

    • Carrageenan-free Almond and Coconut Milks.

     

    1. Smoothies

    Smoothies are an easy “healthy” option for most, but for some, smoothies can cause bloating that lasts for hours. While smoothies seem “simple,” they can actually be complex with multiple food sources packed in one power house shake. In addition, sometimes the protein powders we choose to put in smoothies contain a long list of artificial ingredients that our body does not recognize as real food—a foreign invader.

    From a physical standpoint, smoothies are usually cold. Optimal digestion happens when foods are warmer and cooked, so this punch of cold to the digestive system can also shock it. Lastly, many people consume smoothies rapidly—within a matter of minutes. Without the act of chewing our food—and slowing down our digestive process—this can also shock the system, as well as lead to trapped gas (through the inhalation of more air as we drink as well).

    Choose This:

    • Sip your smoothie slowly.
    • Keep smoothies simple: Water or (Carrageenan-free) coconut milk + spinach + 1/2 banana or some frozen berries + protein powder + healthy fat source (coconut oil, avocado, sunflower-seed butter, etc.).
    • Try a “warm” apple pie smoothie (warmed coconut milk or unsweetened almond milk + cinnamon + vanilla protein powder + 1/2 baked apple slices + ground nutmeg + optional ginger slice).

     

    1. Sweet Potatoes

    Starchy veggies, like sweet potatoes, winter squash and carrots, contain more sugars than fibrous (green) veggies. Starchy veggies are NOT a bad thing, but for those who may have more bacterial overgrowth in their gut, bacteria LOVE to feed off sugar. If you experience bloating after eating sweet potatoes, fruits or other carbohydrate based foods, it may be worth a look to assess for SIBO.

    Choose This:

    • Eating a smaller serving of the sweet potato or squash to see if it makes a difference (you can increase your healthy fat at the meal to help counter the smaller portion);
    • Try other types of heartier veggies to see if it makes a difference (beets, carrots, squashes)

     

    1. Salads

    Simply put, raw veggies are harder to break down and digest than cooked foods since there is one more step involved in the digestive process. Salads are NOT bad, but a variance between raw leafy greens and cooked leafy greens can offer some relief.

    Choose This:

    • Warm” salads (atop cooked leafy greens).
    • Top your greens with healthy fats (like olive oil, olives, avocado, raw nuts/seeds, coconut butter, etc.) to help digest appropriately.

     

    SUMMARY

    This list is not meant to “scare” you, but instead to help you become more aware of your own body’s cues—Especially when you’re “eating healthy” and “doing everything right,” but still can’t seem to explain WHY your stomach is acting like it is.

    NOT all of these foods may affect you, but are there any that you eat frequently that may be worth substituting with another food in its place to see if you feel better?

    Sometimes, we can also become intolerant to foods we eat TOO FREQUENTLY (In other words: your body develops an intolerance due to over-consumption).

    Vary things up and you may find you can come back to your faves.

    Ultimately, listen to your body and be your own experiment.         

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