Gastro

Does Chocolate Cause Constipation? Analyzing the Link

Chocolate is one of life’s greatest pleasures.

From after-dinner desserts to gifts for special occasions, chocolate is enjoyed by people worldwide.

While some indulge in the sweet treat from time to time, others consume it more regularly. But regardless of when you eat chocolate, many people share the same adverse side effect: constipation.

From those with chronic constipation to irritable bowel syndrome, many people claim that eating chocolate interrupts their regular bowel movements.

Diet plays a crucial part in supporting a healthy digestive system. It’s essential to provide your body with enough water and dietary fiber to keep things moving as normal.

This article discusses the link between chocolate and constipation. 

What Causes Constipation?

Constipation is the term that describes irregular and infrequent bowel movements.

People have more trouble passing stool with constipation as stool consistency becomes harder and dryer. It’s an uncomfortable experience that leads to stress and frustration with repeat occurrences. 

Constipation is often attributed to poor diet. Without enough fiber and water, you produce dry stools that cannot pass freely through the intestines.

Certain foods, like dairy products, white flour, and fried foods, may trigger it, but generally, you’re more prone to constipation with a diet low in fiber.

Another common factor causing constipation is medication, such as blood pressure medicines and iron supplements. It’s a good idea to check the potential side effects of any meds you take.

In some cases, constipation is simply the result of environmental changes. For example, you may suffer from constipation when you travel.

Does Chocolate Cause Constipation? 

There is not enough research to say definitively that the claim is true, but there are reasons to believe that chocolate is a culprit for causing constipation. 

Lots of people say that chocolate makes them constipated.

To understand why chocolate may cause constipation, let’s look at the ingredients.

Cocoa is the key ingredient, but chocolate bars and other chocolate-based foods have a high milk content. 

constipation

Dairy products are a common trigger of constipation in some people, often due to the protein found in cow’s milk.

The high-sugar and high-fat content may also prevent a healthy bowel movement. If you’re eating a lot of sugar, you may be missing out on fiber-rich foods that provide bulk to stool, making it easier to pass.

The cocoa in chocolate also contains a small amount of caffeine. Caffeine is a prime culprit of dehydration. When you’re dehydrated, your stools don’t hold enough water and become difficult to shift.

How Much Chocolate Is OK to Eat Without Getting Constipated?

You know your own body, so it’s easier for you to assess how much chocolate your stomach can handle before initiating constipation. How much chocolate you can eat to avoid constipation depends on the individual. 

If chocolate doesn’t affect your bathroom visits, you shouldn’t need to worry about becoming constipated. It only happens to some people, particularly those with digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome.  

As with anything high in fat or sugar, moderation is key. Even without constipation, you should be mindful about how much chocolate you eat. Small amounts can contribute to an overall healthy diet, especially dark chocolate, rich in antioxidants.

If you think chocolate may be the cause of your constipation, try removing it from your diet. That way, you can determine if chocolate has an impact on your digestive system. 

Once you know for sure, you can reassess your diet. If chocolate isn’t the cause, you can think about limiting other foods to find the source.

If you don’t want to eliminate it altogether, try cutting back. Have small pieces of chocolate as a treat, rather than indulging in multiple chocolate bars.

How to Prevent Constipation? 

Fortunately, there are many ways to prevent and relieve constipation. Here are our top tips.

#1 Look at your diet

A healthy, balanced diet is key to preventing problems with the digestive system.

Switch up your diet to include more fiber. High-fiber foods include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Good examples of whole grains include barley, buckwheat, and oatmeal

oatmeal

Swap refined foods like white bread and white rice for whole-wheat bread and brown rice. Avoid fast foods and frozen meals that are low in fiber and high in fat.

You can also educate yourself on various foods that are difficult to digest and may promote constipation. For instance, ripe bananas are beneficial to gut health, whereas unripe bananas can cause constipation due to resistant starch. 

#2 Add exercise

A combination of diet and exercise promotes good health overall, including a healthy gut. The colon responds well to physical activity, so keeping an active lifestyle is an excellent way to loosen your bowels and promote better bathroom habits.

water_and_sport

#3 Drink more water

Dehydration is a leading cause of constipation, as the intestines cannot add water to stools.

Drinking water helps keep your stool soft and easier to pass. When you drink plenty of water, it can quickly alleviate or resolve symptoms. 

#4 Try a stool softener

Stool softeners are a kind of laxative, providing fast relief for constipation by drawing in water. 

Various brands are available on the market, but ColonBroom is a leading fiber supplement and stool softener that promotes healthy bathroom habits within 24–72 hours. 

ColonBroom contains psyllium husk, a natural dietary fiber that helps provide bulk to stools, allowing them to pass comfortably. It also reduces bloating and supports individuals with weight management. 

A Word From our RD

Eating chocolate is a luxury we all enjoy from time to time.

In small doses, chocolate contains healthy compounds that benefit your overall health. 

Dark chocolate, in particular, is a heart-healthy food when consumed in moderation. 

Unfortunately, chocolate can cause issues with digestion in some people, notably constipation. 

To identify if chocolate is the source of your bowel discomfort, try eliminating it from your diet and note any changes. 

In the meantime, several home remedies can alleviate constipation. You can swap low-fiber foods for fiber-rich foods, eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and increase your water intake. 

Remove the likes of fast food, frozen dinners, and other foods lacking in nutritional value.

The Bottom Line

It’s possible that chocolate can cause constipation in some individuals, most likely due to the dairy content. The best way to know for sure is to remove it from your diet and see if your bowel activity improves.

Focus on food that promotes a happy gut to keep yourself regular and prevent bathroom discomfort.

Edibel Quintero, MD
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel's goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
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