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Relieving Chronic Constipation

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The Best and Worst Foods for IBS With Constipation

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Healthgrades Editorial Staff on October 4, 2020
  • woman stocking pantry
    How to Stock Your Shelves
    When you have irritable bowel syndrome with constipation (IBS-C), changing how you eat can influence your symptoms. For instance, smaller, more frequent meals may help your digestion proceed more smoothly. But what you eat matters, too. Some foods stand a better chance of aggravating your symptoms. Others help so much they nearly qualify as treatment. Here’s what to stock in your kitchen—and what to skip. 
  • raspberries
    Best: Raspberries
    One cup of these sweet, juicy fruits provides a whopping 8 grams of fiber. That’s a good portion of the 21 to 38 grams the average adult should consume per day. Fiber can help alleviate constipation symptoms, but take care not to boost your intake too quickly. Aim to add an extra 3 grams or so per day to avoid gas or bloating.
  • Quinoa salad with arugala peppers almonds
    Best: Whole Grains
    Though you may want to steer clear of wheat, many other whole grains can provide belly-soothing fiber. For instance, try a cup of cooked quinoa for 5 grams of fiber. Air-popped popcorn even counts: there’s 3.6 grams of fiber in three cups.
  • Smiling woman holding a kiwi fruit in front of her eye
    Best: Kiwi
    These small, green fruits act as natural laxatives. In one study, four weeks of kiwi consumption increased the speed at which food left the colon of people with IBS-C. The fruit eaters successfully passed stools more frequently and improved their bowel function. What’s more, kiwis may also boost immunity, fighting other illnesses such as the flu.
  • low-fat-yogurt
    Best: Yogurt
    Serve yourself a heaping spoonful of probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that may relieve IBS-C symptoms. Other foods containing probiotics include sauerkraut and kefir, a type of fermented milk beverage. Talk with your doctor about the best strains and amounts for you and where to find them. Many studies suggest a type known as Bifidobacterium is particularly effective. 
  • Woman holding a glass of Milk
    Worst: Milk
    Most dairy products pose a high risk of irritating your gastrointestinal tract, perhaps because of a sugar called lactose. Cheese and ice cream also make the “no” list. But there’s at least one exception: yogurt.
  • Cocoa
    Worst: Caffeine
    Any caffeinated beverage may trigger IBS symptoms, including coffee, cola and tea. But some other compounds in coffee likely irritate the gut, too. Many people find decaf equally bothersome.
  • Coke
    Worst: Soda
    Forget the fizz. Even if they don’t have caffeine, carbonated drinks can aggravate your gastrointestinal tract. Full-calorie sodas often contain the gut-unfriendly high-fructose corn syrup. And don’t think you’re safe with diet versions. Artificial sweeteners such as sorbitol can cause problems, too.
  • bread-with-wheat
    Worst: Wheat
    A family history of celiac disease—an abnormal reaction to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley—predisposes people to IBS. Though it’s a different condition, some people with IBS-C find that gluten irritates their symptoms. To find out whether wheat affects you, try keeping a food diary, noting what you eat and how it makes you feel.
  • White kidney beans in a brown pot macro and bread
    Worst: Beans
    Yes, beans have fiber, which may help constipation. But beans also frequently cause gas, which doesn’t help your overall gastrointestinal health. Consider skipping other foods linked to flatulence as well, including cabbage.
The Best and Worst Foods for IBS With Constipation

About The Author

The Healthgrades Editorial Staff is an experienced team of in-house editors, writers and content producers. Our team has a wealth of experience in the fields of journalism, TV and video production and the healthcare industry. We are committed to providing our audience with actionable content and tools to help them make the best decision when it comes to choosing a healthcare professional.
  1. Frequently Asked Questions: Irritable Bowel Syndrome. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health. http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/irritable-bowel-syndrome.pdf. Accessed January 5, 2015.
  2. Irritable Bowel Syndrome. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/digestive-diseases/ibs/Pages/facts.aspx. Accessed January 5, 2015.
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  4. Chang FY. Irritable bowel syndrome: the evolution of multi-dimensional looking and multidisciplinary treatments. World Journal of Gastroenterology. 2014 Mar 14;20(10):2499-514
  5. Anastasi JK, Capili B, Chang M. Managing irritable bowel syndrome. American Journal of Nursing. 2013 Jul;113(7):42-52.
  6. Quinoa, cooked. United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/6539?fg=&man=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=25&offset=&sort=&qlookup=quinoa. Accessed January 5, 2015.
  7. Ways to Boost Fiber. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6442478886. Accessed January 5, 2015.
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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Oct 4
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