12 surprisingly common reasons we get constipated
Here’s something we don’t often talk about by the water cooler with our co-workers: constipation. It’s described as the most common digestive complaint in the United States, yet you wouldn’t think so based on the number of conversations we have about this topic (aka, ZERO). Since we do love talking about all things that don’t get talked about, we decided to find out more about the condition of constipation.
Specifically, we want to know: What are some surprisingly common constipation causes?
1. Dairy Products
Registered dietitian Mark Spielmann divulges that dairy products tend to bind food together, which is what leads to constipation. This is mainly due to the high-fat, low-fiber elements contained within the dairy products we consume.
2. Irritable Bowl Syndrome
According to the International Foundation for Functional Intestinal Disorders, constipation is one of the main symptoms connected to irritable bowl syndrome (or IBS). However, when it comes to IBS, constipation tends to occur along with abdominal discomfort.
3. Not Enough Fiber
“People who eat a diet high in fiber are less likely to become constipated,” states Professor Stephen Bickston. That’s because fiber helps our poop soak up water, which is important because…
4. Not Enough Water
Constipation is linked to dehydration in the colon, meaning that water is essential if you want to keep your poop flowing properly. This is especially important because water helps to soften our stool and makes it easier for our intestines to push poop through our bodies.
A study published in Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica reveals that around three out of every four pregnant women will deal with constipation. That’s because pregnancy causes an increase in the hormone progesterone, which relaxes your intestines. Since the intestines will then start to move slower, the entire digestive process slows down and constipation begins.
6. Resisting the Urge to Poop
“When you get in the habit of holding things in, your rectum gets confused and doesn’t know how to react when you have poop ready to come out,” says gastroenterologist Dr. Sophie Balzora. “That can lead to constipation or problems later on.”
Dr. Satish Rao emphasizes that it’s important to relax and take care of ourselves – especially because stress can impact how our entire body relaxes. This includes our bowels, which may not be able to work as well as they should when we’re feeling stressed.
Hypothyroidism involves an underactive thyroid, which Harvard Medical School states can affect every single system in the human body. Specifically, this condition can cause the digestive system to slow down and, thus, can lead to constipation.
Gastroenterologist Dr. Thomas Park explains that several studies have concluded that chocolate can lead to constipation. However, this was much more likely to be seen in those with IBS and chronic constipation. Also, considering that many chocolates contain milk, we recommend that you review #1 on this list.
10. Certain Vitamins
It’s important to note that not all vitamins automatically lead to constipation. However, American Gastroenterological Association spokesperson Dr. Carla H. Ginsburg explains, “I would tell a patient to stop taking the iron [or calcium] unless they really need it and, if they do need it, I would put them on a stool softener to counteract that.”
The Research Institute for Gastroenterology and Liver Diseases once conducted a study revealing that “the prevalence of mood and anxiety disorders in constipated patients is much higher than general population.” Columbia Psychiatry Professor David Hellerstein adds, “[T]his may reflect several issues, including decreased physical activity, decreased water intake, changed diet, and possibly depression-related changes in the activity of the bowel.”
12. Certain Medications
Antidepressants, blood pressure drugs, and even antihistamines have been linked to constipation. The Columbia University Go Ask Alice! team explains that antidepressants can cause bodily functions like digestion to slow down. Blood pressure drugs, on the other hand, can increase how much we pee and leave less water for our digestive system to run smoothly. As for antihistamines, Dr. Valencia Porter explains that they can be so drying that they take water away from our poop (just like blood pressure medication).
In the end, we wish your bowels the best.