Various foods, such as chocolate, cheese, milk and red meat, can cause constipation, according to MedicineNet. Certain foods, such as unripe bananas, coffee and other drinks containing caffeine, can make constipation worse, especially if the body is dehydrated.
MedlinePlus also suggests avoiding processed foods, such as sausage, or foods high in fat content, such as French fries and hamburgers. It also advises to stay away from foods containing white flour, such as pastries and desserts.
To relieve constipation, MedlinePlus advocates eating foods high in fiber, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes, as well as drinking eight to 10 cups of water daily and exercising regularly. It suggests training the bowels by going to the bathroom around the same time each day.
More specifically, MedicineNet highlights such foods as prunes, pears and rye bread as especially effective at stimulating the bowels. These foods contain higher amounts of fiber than most fruits and vegetables, and prunes also contain sorbitol, a natural laxative.
Normally, a low-fiber diet, dehydration and lack of exercise cause constipation, claims Health.com; however, other factors that can cause a constipated bowel include hypothyroidism, narcotic painkillers, iron and calcium supplements, laxative overuse, inflammatory bowel disease, pregnancy, diabetes and depression.