Do starchy root vegetables cause constipation?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created May 10, 2013 at 6:26 PM

I was recently having some mild constipation, and about a week ago I was a friend's house and after looking at the ingredients on "Ezekiel bread," had 2 slices of it toasted with a side of scambled eggs at breakfast. THe ingredients aren't great, but not bad either, in my book, and I've heard the name mentioned on this site and "health" sites as well. Normally I would eat eggs with a sweet potato, but I was hungry and ate the bread anyway. Well, anyways, sure enough that day I was relieved of my discomfort.

I actually ended up going to the store and buying some of the bread myself and have been eating that instead of sweet potato or potato at breakfast. I branched out further and made oatmeal a few times as well. Been having the best bowel movements I've had in years. Not the kind of unformed, runny kind that I get from fruit. Just healthy, well formed, regularity that I like.


I am just wondering, is it just me or have other people experienced this as well? Are starchy root vegetables constipating? Do "whole grains" have a special benefit for healthy bowel movements and GI functioning?

My worries are two-fold. First, I'm hoping that this isn't just a short term thing. It's been 9 days with everything going smoothly, but I just hope that it doesn't suddenly stop on day 14 or something. Also, I don't have gluten sensitivity, but will this positive (better bowel function) be outweighed by the negatives of grain consumption (diminished nutrient density and absorption)?

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on May 10, 2013
at 07:19 PM

I've had the opposite experience - starchy root vegetables == happy bathroom times; bread == a slew of lower GI issues that would horrify you if described. Whole grains were the basis of years of pain, blood, tears, and thinking I was dying - as a food, they are not helpful for all of us, so I can't say they are "good". However, some grains may have helpful components (soluble fiber and resistant starch).

I do have GSE, but before that was figured out, years ago, I was trying all sorts of things to alleviate my GI issues. I found bread and potatoes extremely binding (i.e. constipating), rice somewhat binding, and other starches very helpful - binding, but in a smoothing / easing kind of way. Ezekiel bread was one of the last true breads I ate, and it bound me up terribly - just as much as white bread.

Lately, I've come to realize that the roots and tubers that I found helpful are so probably because of resistant starch, which is an indigestible fiber, and acts more like soluble fiber than insoluble / roughage as it's moving through you. It just so happens that most of the paleo-lauded roots and tubers are very rich in resistant starch (and often soluble fiber ... and suffice to say, we all eat vegetables, so we get enough insoluble fiber).

I do think sprouted breads are less horrible for people than standard breads, but I think non-wheat, fermented breads are even less horrible than that.

If you don't have celiac, GSE, or any of genes that make gluten sensitivity likely, then frankly sprouted grain bread on occasion isn't going to kill you. If you don't eat it daily, but as a sometimes food, I would worry less about anti-nutrients. If you are concerned about them, just don't eat the bread, and keep exploring whole food options for soluble fiber and resistant starch.


on May 11, 2013
at 05:42 PM

It's interesting that you write about that, because I eat those things on occasion too, but notice the exact opposite affect that you do. What I mean by this is that oatmeal, when eaten in anything beyond quite small amounts, seems to make my digestion more sluggish, while sweet potatoes seem to make it move along comparatively more expeditiously.

To each his own I guess, but just thought I'd share my experience since I do eat oatmeal or Ezekiel bread from time to time.


on June 11, 2013
at 09:46 AM

Lack of fiber in food is often linked to constipation. Yet fruits such as watermelons contain little fiber, and they make your bowels work. Many remedies use vegetables when you have constipation, but some vegetables may have the opposite effect. Ideally, a digestive system should have one or two meals in the bowels, but many people carry up to four days worth of waste in their colon, says allonhealth.com. Constipation is becoming increasingly more common. The problems are linked to our modern lifestyle and lifestyle choices.

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