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{Note from Jessica: Today’s post is shared by my good friend, Lauren, author of Lauren Fowler. She is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and yoga teacher who promotes a non-diet approach to nutrition and health. She wants everyone to connect to their bodies intuitive wisdom rather than following diets. She encourages the tools of intuitive eating and health at every size. Stop by LaurenFlower.co to read more about nutrition, intuitive eating, heart-based health, and yoga.}

Have you tried any of the methods to relieve constipation in Part 1? Don’t be discouraged if they haven’t worked. If you’ve had chronic constipation for years, it may take time for things to get moving normally again. If nothing seems to work, or you have other symptoms, there may be deeper underlying cause.

5 Underlying Causes of Constipation

Stomach Acid

Your whole digestive system works best at different pH levels. If your stomach doesn’t have enough acid, it impairs the rest of digestion, and you won’t be able to fully digest nutrients, especially proteins and vitamins like Vitamin B12.

Remember: you are what you DIGEST, not what you eat.

If you have heartburn and are on acid reflux medications to “lower the acidity,” you’re putting yourself at risk for nutrient deficiency. [Note: these medications are only meant to be used for short-term relief, not for years on end.]

You can support stomach acidity by chewing your food really well, managing stress, and eating mindfully. You could also try digestive aids like ginger tea or chewing on a piece of ginger before meals.


If you have other symptoms like fatigue or weight gain, it may be a thyroid problem. Have your physician check these thyroid labs to identify an underlying hormone imbalance. A functional medicine doctor will know to run a full panel of thyroid labs rather than the basic few your physician may check.

Digestive Distress & Food Sensitivities

If you have other symptoms like fatigue, consider celiac disease. To be tested properly, you need to be currently eating gluten. It may be beneficial to do a breath test for small intestinal bacteria overgrowth (SIBO). SIBO has been shown to be less common in IBS-C (constipation), but it is a consideration.

Even if you test negative, it could be a food intolerance, such as gluten, dairy, or FODMAPs. Many people react to proteins in certain foods like gluten or dairy. A FODMAPs reaction is to carbohydrates in certain foods, especially many fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans. The carbohydrates ferment in your gut, which creates gas. Studies have found people with IBS-C (constipation-prone) produce more methane, which may slow down the gut.

If you’ve been told you have IBS-C (constipation), try a low-FODMAP diet trial. In research studies, it’s shown to be effective in 75% of patients with IBS. A low-FODMAPs trial will eliminate gluten and most dairy. There are many Registered Dietitians who guide clients through a low-FODMAPs trial and will work with you to re-introduce foods.


Many women notice changes in their digestion based on their cycle. If you have missing, irregular, or painful periods, there may be an underlying hormone imbalance. Throughout the menstrual cycle, different hormones fluctuate.

During the second half of your cycle before your period, progesterone is the main hormone. This hormone can delay stomach emptying and slow your gut down. Many women complain of constipation before their period.

During your period, it is common to have looser stools or go more frequently. As estrogen increases in the beginning of your cycle after your period, it increases serotonin and gut motility.


Stress management is essential for health. Stress can help improve your digestion and regulate your hormones. Eating mindfully in a stress-free state may be all it takes to help your chronic constipation. Find something – anything – that you know will help you relax. It could be meditation, exercise, deep breathing, or calling a friend. Choose a stress management activity daily.

Chronic constipation can be misery. I know what it feels like to desperately just want a normal poop! I hope this constipation series has helped. Don’t be afraid to find a functional medicine practitioner or Registered Dietitian specializing in digestive health.

If you have friends or family that are struggling with constipation, forward this article, or share on social media.

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