Does Cheese Cause Constipation?

Published on November 17, 2015

Constipation occurs when you strain or have difficulty going to the bathroom and pass hard or small stools. It’s generally thought to occur when you do not have at least three bowel movements in a week. Certain conditions can cause constipation such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), as does various dietary factors.

A 1994 study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology revealed that if you consume cheese in large amounts it could make it more likely that you will experience constipation since it could displace fibre-containing foods, but it doesn’t actually cause it. In this study, participants showed no significant difference in constipation levels when they consumed increasing amounts of cheese, a normal diet or a diet with no cheese at all.

Causes of Constipation

What causes constipation is always being studied; however, different lifestyle factors can cause constipation, often when worked in combination.  Such factors include:

  • A change in routine – Rhythmic and regular contraction of the bowels is what constitutes a normal bowel motion. Changes in routine can often upset the body’s internal ‘clock’.
  • Low-fibre diet – Fibre is essential because it’s indigestible which helps by adding bulk to the faeces and allowing the body to easily push the waste along the digestive tract.
  • Fluids – Insufficient fluid intake is a cause of constipation
  • Lack of routine exercise – Restricting movement can cause constipation.
  • Putting off a bowel movement – When you ignore the urge to go, you are essentially extracting more water from the stools, which makes them harder to pass.
  • Medications – Different medications such as antidepressants, narcotics, calcium-channel blockers and iron supplements can slow down bowel movements.
  • Pregnancy – The pressure against the intestines caused by the growing uterus, reduced activity, and hormone actions can cause constipation in pregnant women.

Pregnant Women and Constipation

Constipation is a common health issue in pregnancy. Around 10 to 40 percent of pregnant women will eventually experience constipation at some point.

Many women change their diets when they become pregnant. Some foods can actually exacerbate constipation like dairy foods, milk, red meat, and excessive cheese. It can be more difficult to digest protein dense foods and cereals.

To prevent and relieve constipation, making lifestyle changes could prove effective. As far as cheese is concerned, you should not eat more than a couple servings of cheese per meal. Choose fat-free or reduced-fat cheeses to help keep the amounts of fat down. Check out the package labelling to find out how much a single serving of cheese is.

If constipation should happen, a good temporary constipation cure is laxatives like Dulcolax®. Before taking laxative tablets, however, it’s best to talk with your doctor first. Constipation relief can happen through modifications in your diet and lifestyle as well as watching the food you eat. If you are experiencing severe constipation (you normally go to the bathroom on a daily basis, but haven’t in 4 or 5 days), see your doctor. If the constipation you are experiencing is on and off, a dietitian will be able to assess your diet and give you advice.

Always read the label. Use only as directed. If symptoms persist, see your Healthcare professional.

Learn about which Dulcolax product may be appropriate for you.

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