Sitting too much
When figuring out what causes constipation, the answers may be surprising. Our modern sedentary lifestyle is bad for more than just your waistline, says Atif Iqbal, MD, a gastroenterologist and medical director of the Digestive Care Center at Orange Coast Medical Center, in Fountain Valley, CA. Staying in a sitting position for long periods of time kinks up your colon, discouraging stool from passing through and causing constipation. Take regular breaks to stand up and move around. Walking and deep squats, in particular, are two movements that are particularly effective for producing a bowel movement. If constipation is a chronic problem and you don’t feel like squatting on top of your toilet, many have found relief using a “squatty potty,” which elevates the legs to a more natural pooping position.
A dairy-heavy diet
Cheeseheads, take note: Eating a lot of this melty, delicious food is one of the main explanations for what causes constipation that Dr. Iqbal gives. While all dairy products have the potential to stop you up, cheese seems to be the biggest digestive troublemaker—not because it’s inherently constipating but because many people eat it instead of healthier fiber-filled foods like whole grains, fruits, and veggies. If you’re eating pizza, for example, you’re probably not eating a salad. Make sure that you save room in your stomach for fiber-filled fare. A review of studies published in 2018 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that eating a high-fiber diet reduces your risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke, type diabetes, and several cancers (including pancreatic, gastric, colon, and breast). These are the things that your bowel movement can reveal about your health.