I have compared your information about constipating foods with some other sources.

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Thanks for your response. I replied to let you know about some of the conflicting advice out there. I have compared your information about foods that tend to be constipating with some other sources.

One source is a spinal cord injury manual written by the staff of the Kessler Rehabilitation Hospital, where Christopher Reeve went through rehab. Foods that they recommended avoiding included bananas, cheese, white rice, and white bread. They also mentioned that dairy products and meat could tend to cause hard stools.

Another source was a spinal cord injury manual, titled “Yes, You Can”, published by the Disabled Veterans of America ( I’m not totally positive on the publisher). Foods to avoid in this book included bananas, cheese, white potatoes without their skins, meats, and dairy products. In both of these books, apples were on the list of good foods for regularity.

One source that I found on the Web was the University of Washington Rehabilitation Hospital. Their site offers some tips for a successful bowel program. Their list of foods to avoid included bananas, cheese, white bread, and white potatoes. Other tips included eating whole grains, bran, fruits, vegetables, Metamucil, drinking lots of water and getting some exercise. The spinal cord manuals also made similar suggestions.

In consulting with the dietitian at my local hospital, she hadn’t heard that apples and bananas were constipating. She said that some people do run into problems with dairy products.

As you can see, some of the advice that I have gotten can be confusing. I will have to continue my experimenting with various foods to see what works best for me. Thanks again for your time.

Here are some Web addresses that you might find interesting. University of Washington Rehabilitation Hospital in Seattle Washington and Craig Hospital in Denver Colorado. This site has information about spinal cord injuries and aging with them.

Good to hear back from you and thanks for websites. I am very familiar with the University of Washington Rehabilitation Hospital and have communicated with a dietitian there. Will check out Craig Hospital.

First, there is some confusion about bananas and apples. These foods are not constipating. Here’s how this idea got started. For children and adults with diarrhea, dietitians often prescribe a BRAT diet which stands for banana, rice, apple, and tea, but some people think the T stands for white toast. Anyway, the apple part is usually apple juice, but also refers to scrapped apple without the peel or applesauce. You see, apples are a good source of pectin which is used to gel fruit juice into jelly. Pectin works the same way with loose stool in gelling the liquid contents to a more solid form thereby stopping diarrhea. BTW, pectin is a soluble fiber found in fruits. You can buy pectin in the grocery store in a liquid form or as Kayopectate medicine for diarrhea which has pectin as an ingredient. Hope this is not too graphic for you. Since diarrhea is not your current concern and constipation is, I would not recommend bananas, rice or tea on any regular basis. However, wild rice (actually a grass seed) would be OK. Peeled apples or applesauce would be OK in that they would contribute soluble fiber which helps retain more water even in constipated stool. Soluble fiber works both for diarrhea (gelling loose stool) and constipation (increasing water in constipated stool).

I have heard from people that various foods including cheese or dairy products constipate them, but this is attributed to individual opinion rather than research due to the variability of people’s intestines.

More than you ever probably wanted to know about apples, pectin or soluble fiber, but…