8 surprising causes of constipation... and how to cure it

Some people believe constipation is just a natural part of ageing, but it isn’t. In fact, constipation is not a good sign at any age, and can mean you are lacking in certain necessary nutrients.

If you aren’t sure why you’re constipated, there are some interesting lesser-known causes you mightn’t have considered.

Here’s what to look out for, and how to relieve that backed-up feeling.

1. Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid gland, slows the body’s metabolic processes so much so that it’s been found to cause constipation in many people. With that said, not everyone with an underactive thyroid has constipation, nor do all cases of constipation mean that your thyroid is underperforming however it is something to be looked into if there are no other probable causes.

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2. Too much dairy

Too much of one thing is never good, and if you’re eating dairy constantly, this could be backing you up. Some women think consuming more dairy will strengthen their bones however we don’t need to overdo it.

3. Painkillers

Painkillers often cause constipation, because they pass the digestive tract and slow down all function in this area of the body. Some studies suggest that chronic users of pain relievers like aspirin and ibuprofen might be a higher risk of constipation. Simply ask your doctor for a light laxative if you must take painkillers.

4. Depression 

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As depression causes a general slowdown of the body’s normal processes, it can also affect the bowel. As a double blow, antidepressants can also cause constipation. See your doctor for an alternative or if you are concerned.

5. Blood pressure medication

It’s a theme but it’s true: a lot of medications that are meant to alleviate one ailment may cause constipation. If you’re taking calcium channel blockers or diuretics to lower blood pressure, it could be dehydrating your body, resulting in constipation.

6. Bananas

The less ripe a banana is, the more it will cause constipation, so ensure any you eat are well ripened.

7. Frozen dinners
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Frozen dinners are so convenient but often the lack of fibre, high fat content and preservatives can equal a backed-up gut. Opt for fresh veges and meat – some companies sell fresh products that can be put in the fridge, if you really are pressed for time.

8. Antacids

If you have heart burn, you may have noticed the antacids you take can cause constipation, especially those containing calcium or aluminium. Look for a product without these ingredients, or speak to your doctor about alternatives.

Simple ways to prevent constipation

  • Squat – A 2003 study found that squatting to do a number two was the most satisfactory way to do it, compared to sitting. Apparently, sitting requires excessive effort whereas squatting is quite easy and requires little pushing. All you need to do is find a stool and use it to elevate your feet whilst on the toilet.
  • Eat health foods –  Make sure you get plenty of high-fibre food in your diet, including whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.
  • Drinking plenty of water – Not drinking enough water can lead to constipation.
  • Exercise – Keeping active on a regular basis can help you stay regular.