Causes of Constipation and Tips for Prevention

September 14, 2022 - Parul Saini, Webmedy Team

Updated Version - July 25, 2023

Our bodies are designed to remove toxins. Having regular, daily bowel movements is a means of removing toxins. Constipation contributes to toxins sitting idle in our bowels, leading to their reabsorption into the bloodstream and disruption of the normal bacterial balance.

Constipation affects up to 20% of adults worldwide and can significantly affect a person's health. Its symptoms include - infrequent bowel movements, hard feces, frequent straining to poop, and the sensation of incomplete emptying.

Why does Constipation Happen?

Constipation happens because your colon absorbs too much water from stool, which dries out the stool making it hard in consistency and difficult to push out of the body.

What Causes Constipation?

There are many causes of constipation – lifestyle choices, medications, medical conditions, and pregnancy. Here are some major causes of constipation:

  • Dehydration

    Our bodies require adequate water intake to help flush the system. Inadequate intake of water or consuming dehydrating foods like alcohol and caffeine can cause constipation.

  • Poor Diet

    Foods high in sugar and lacking nutrients negatively impact our bowel health. A low-fiber diet particularly diets high in meat, milk, or cheese can cause constipation. Fiber adds bulk and holds onto water to help move stool through the colon. Fiber also binds toxins and keeps them from absorbing into the bloodstream.

  • Thyroid Disease

    Hypothyroidism (under-functioning thyroid) is a very common cause of constipation.

  • Irregular Timings

    Travel or other changes in routine, as well as delaying the impulse to have a bowel movement, can cause constipation.

  • Age and Sedentary Lifestyle

    Constipation affects around one-third of people above the age of 60. A sedentary lifestyle or low exercise levels could lead to constipation.

Tips for Curing Constipation

  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Stop pro-inflammatory foods such as junk food and add more vegetables and fiber such as prunes or bran cereal to your diet.
  • Eat healthy fats daily.
  • Increase your digestion by chewing your food more.
  • Take Magnesium.
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can lead to dehydration.
  • Take probiotics, like those found in yogurt and kefir with live active cultures.
  • Train your body to have a bowel movement at the same time each day.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Get quality sleep.


Constipation is a common condition, but making basic dietary and lifestyle changes can improve your symptoms. Supplements such as magnesium, fiber, and probiotics can be particularly helpful.

Helpful Information

What are the common causes of constipation?

Constipation can be caused by several factors such as a low-fiber diet, lack of physical activity, dehydration, changes in daily routine, overuse of laxatives, ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement, certain medications, and certain health conditions or diseases.

How does diet affect constipation?

Diet plays a crucial role in preventing constipation. A diet low in fiber and high in fats, sugar, and salt can lead to constipation. On the other hand, a diet rich in fiber can help maintain a healthy digestive system and prevent constipation.

Can dehydration cause constipation?

Yes, dehydration is a common cause of constipation. Without adequate fluid intake, the stool can become dry and hard, making it more difficult to pass.

How can physical activity help prevent constipation?

Regular physical activity can help stimulate the natural contraction of intestinal muscles, aiding in bowel movements and thus preventing constipation.

Can stress lead to constipation?

Yes, high levels of stress can lead to changes in your digestive system, potentially causing constipation.

What role does age play in constipation?

Age can play a role in constipation. As we get older, metabolism slows down, which can affect the digestive system and lead to constipation.

Can certain medications cause constipation?

Yes, certain medications, including certain painkillers, antacids, antidepressants, and blood pressure medications, can cause constipation.

How does ignoring the urge to defecate lead to constipation?

Ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement can lead to constipation over time as the body may eventually stop sending signals to defecate, leading to longer stool transit time and harder stools.

Can constipation be a symptom of a medical condition?

Yes, constipation can be a symptom of several medical conditions such as diabetes, thyroid disorders, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, and bowel obstructions.

How does fiber intake prevent constipation?

Dietary fiber adds bulk to your diet and can help prevent constipation by helping bowel movements pass more easily.

Can probiotics help with constipation?

Yes, probiotics can help with constipation by balancing the gut microbiota, thus aiding in digestion and promoting regular bowel movements.

What types of foods should be avoided to prevent constipation?

Foods that are high in fat and low in fiber, like cheese, meat, and processed foods, should be limited to prevent constipation.

How can hydration prevent constipation?

Drinking plenty of fluids can soften the stool, making it easier to pass and thus preventing constipation.

How does a regular bowel routine help in preventing constipation?

Establishing a regular bowel routine can signal your body when it's time to have a bowel movement, thus helping prevent constipation.

Can lifestyle changes prevent constipation?

Yes, lifestyle changes such as increasing physical activity, eating a high-fiber diet, staying hydrated, and responding promptly to the urge to have a bowel movement can all help prevent constipation.

Are there any natural remedies for constipation?

Natural remedies for constipation include increasing fiber intake, drinking more fluids, exercising regularly, and establishing a consistent bathroom schedule.

How can overuse of laxatives lead to constipation?

Overuse of laxatives can make your body depend on them, causing your bowel muscles to weaken over time and eventually leading to constipation.

Can constipation be a sign of a serious health problem?

While occasional constipation is common, chronic constipation can sometimes indicate a more serious health problem, such as colon cancer or neurological disorders. If constipation persists, it's important to seek medical attention.

What should be the daily fiber intake to prevent constipation?

It's recommended that men aim for 30 to 38 grams of fiber a day, and women aim for 21 to 25 grams a day to prevent constipation.

Can caffeine consumption help in preventing constipation?

Yes, caffeine can stimulate the muscles in the digestive system to contract, which can lead to more frequent bowel movements. However, excessive caffeine can lead to dehydration, which can cause constipation, so moderation is key.


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