Does Yogurt Cause Constipation Or Help Relieve It?

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Dairy products such as yogurt are said to cause constipation. Research and recent studies have shown that yogurt and other dairy products can actually relieve constipation. In fact, probiotic yogurt can significant reduce defecation frequency, defecation pain, and abdominal pain. Though dairy products are low on fiber, they do not cause constipation. Constipation can occur due to various other reasons.

Constipation is a gastrointestinal condition that affects all of us, from children to adults to the elderly, some time or the other. The frequency of passing stools differs from person to person. Many factors such as food habits, lifestyle, and physical and mental health have an impact on our bowel movement.

Some people clear their bowels every day, or even thrice a day; others may go only thrice a week. Some healthy people may have soft or near-runny stools, while others have firm stools but no trouble passing them.1 Here, we find out if yogurt causes constipation or not.

Can Dairy Products Cause Constipation?

Can Dairy Products Cause Constipation

High intake of dairy products is often associated with constipation. The lack of fiber in dairy products is said to cause constipation. However, there may be other causes to this and dairy products alone are not to blame. Though the bacteria in yogurt can help your digestive tract, it is also a dairy-based food that can cause constipation. Whether or not yogurt causes a problem with digestion or eases it is largely dependent upon the individual and how they respond to consumption of dairy products. Research shows that yogurt can ease constipation.

Can Fiber Cause Constipation?

The only food that can actually cause constipation is dietary fiber because it is the only known food that reaches the colon undigested. Usually, healthy stools do not contain any food remnants, and a healthy bowel does not require any food remnant to function properly. Stools are not made from food unless these foods contain indigestible fiber. However, fiber in the right quantities is essential for digestion. Moderation is the key.

Consuming a pound of fiber results in the exact same pound reaching your bowel undigested. While passing through the digestive tract, fiber absorbs water and expands 5-10 times its original size and weight. On the contrary, if you consume a pound of meat, dairy products like cheese, or rice, only about 5 grams will reach your bowels, which is not enough to cause bowel movement problems or constipation.2

What About Yogurt? Does It Cause Constipation?

can yogurt cause constipation

In the last few years, many studies have been conducted on the health effects of yogurt and the bacterial cultures used in the production of yogurt. Some studies using yogurt showed promising health benefits for certain gastrointestinal conditions, including constipation.3

Yogurt containing Lactobacillus GG (LGG) has shown to relieve the adverse gastrointestinal effects including constipation.4

Probiotics, or “good” bacteria, keep the intestines healthy. Studies show that daily intake of yogurt containing galacto-oligosaccharides, prunes, and linseed reduced the severity of constipation in elderly people with mild constipation. In a trial conducted on 59 constipated students, the cases who received probiotic yogurt had significant improvement in defecation frequency, defecation pain, and abdominal pain compared to students who consumed only yogurt.5

What Else Can Cause Constipation?

Constipation is usually caused by a low-fiber diet, lack of physical exercise, dehydration, or controlling the urge to defecate. Stress, travel, and medication can also cause constipation. In fact, certain mental health conditions such as depression can cause constipation. Since constipation can result due to various reasons, the cause must be ascertained by considering all the factors involved. It is most likely that yogurt may not be the cause.

How Can Constipation Be Prevented?

Chronic constipation is a common problem not only in adults but also among children. Instead of using only medications, constipation can be successfully and efficiently treated by adopting healthier lifestyles and by including a proper diet. Diets including fruits, fluids, and probiotics are good for constipation.6 Keeping the body well hydrated, eating right quantities of fiber and regular exercise can help improve the regularity of your bowel movements.

References   [ + ]

1. Constipation. University of Maryland Medical Center. 2015.
2. Konstantin Monastyrsky. Why Do Some Foods Cause Constipation? Gut Sense.org.
3. Adolfsson, Oskar, Simin Nikbin Meydani, and Robert M. Russell. “Yogurt and gut function.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 80, no. 2 (2004): 245-256.
4. Hongisto, S. M., L. Paajanen, M. Saxelin, and Riitta Korpela. “A combination of fibre-rich rye bread and yoghurt containing Lactobacillus GG improves bowel function in women with self-reported constipation.” European journal of clinical nutrition 60, no. 3 (2006): 319-324.
5. Sadeghzadeh, Mansour, Ahmadreza Rabieefar, Parisa Khoshnevisasl, Noreddin Mousavinasab, and Kambiz Eftekhari. “The effect of probiotics on childhood constipation: a randomized controlled double blind clinical trial.” International journal of pediatrics 2014 (2014).
6. Bae, Sun Hwan. “Diets for constipation.” Pediatric gastroenterology, hepatology & nutrition 17, no. 4 (2014): 203-208.