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Constipation causes irregular and infrequent bowel movements that are often dry, hard and difficult to eliminate. Symptoms of constipation include stomach pain and swelling. Eating a balanced diet high in fiber can help prevent constipation. Drinking plenty of fluids will also help to prevent or ease the symptoms of constipation. Exercise may also keep you feeling regular.
Dairy foods, especially cheeses, tend to cause constipation. Consume milk, yogurt, cottage cheese and other dairy foods in moderate amounts, and eat plenty of foods high in fiber. Try cheddar cheese paired with an apple or mix fruit in your yogurt. Many varieties of yogurt and cottage cheese are enhanced with fiber to prevent digestive upset.
Processed foods are often stripped of dietary fiber, a necessary agent for regular digestion. White bread, cakes and cookies made of white flour may cause constipation. Processed foods, like chips and fast food, also tend to contain high amounts of fat, which can cause further constipation. Choose foods prepared with minimal processing. Foods low in fat and containing whole grains are a good choice for relieving and avoiding constipation.
Coffee and other beverages containing caffeine can cause or worsen constipation. Caffeine dehydrates the body, pulling fluids out of bowels and resulting in dry feces that is difficult to eliminate. Avoid coffee, soft drinks and other beverages that contain caffeine, and increase your water consumption to prevent or remedy constipation.
A diet low in fiber can also cause constipation. Diets high in meat, fish and poultry and low in fiber will result in irregularity. Eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains to avoid constipation.