As a long-time jelly maker and having suffered from constipation an even longer time, I’ve been wondering whether those luscious homemade fruit treats could be adding to my digestive problems. I decided to do a little research on the subject, and here is what I found.
Jelly can cause constipation if it is high in sugar as sugar can make stool firmer. Also, people become constipated when jam or jelly is eaten with white bread or other gluten-filled foods that are known to cause constipation.
Here are a few ways eating jelly can directly or indirectly cause constipation:
- Eating a lot of jelly with high sugar content can make stool firmer and lead to constipation. In this case, it is actually the sugar that is causing the constipation problem.
- Jam made with fruit like blackberries containing small seeds could cause a digestive problem in people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Here again, it is not the jam directly causing constipation but, actually, the IBS condition being aggravated by the tiny seeds from the fruit.
- Eating jelly or jam on white bread or other gluten-filled foods that are known to cause bowel issues, especially in people with gluten allergies, will most likely be the culprit causing constipation and not actually the jelly or jam.
Let’s look a bit closer at what is in most types of jellies and explore the possibilities of each ingredient causing constipation.
The Main Ingredients in Jelly and the Risk of Constipation
Fruit and Fruit Juice
- The main ingredient in jelly and jam is fruit and/or fruit juice. But most fruit and their juices relieve constipation rather than causing it.
- By drinking only 1/2 to 1 cup per day of fruit juice can relieve constipation.
- Fruits such as prunes, plums, and pears are especially helpful in maintaining healthy bowel habits because they contain fiber that bulks up stool and sorbitol that softens stools making them easier to pass.
- If you have certain conditions such as chronic constipation or Crohn’s Disease, drinking too much fruit juice could make those conditions worse.
- The only fruit I know that may cause constipation is banana, and I have never personally used bananas in making jam.
- The most commonly used thickening agent in jelly is fruit pectin.
- Fruit pectin is a water-soluble fiber that has many health benefits such as alleviating constipation, improving digestion, and maintaining normal blood pressure.
- There are several other substances that can be used as a thickening agent such as cornstarch which could cause constipation or other digestive issues if a person had corn allergies. But, most of the alternative thickening agents are primarily used in home jelly and jam making, so if you have food allergies, be sure to check the ingredients list before you purchase any fruit products to avoid these problems.
- Granulated sugar is the most commonly used sweetener in jelly and can lead to constipation if consumed in large amounts.
- But, some alternative sweeteners like honey can be used to relieve constipation.
- So, whether the sweetener in jelly can cause constipation would depend on the type of sweetener that was used in preparing the jelly you are eating.
The only ingredient in jelly that could cause constipation is granulated sugar when used to sweeten the jelly.
Recommended commercial brands:
You may find one or more of these brands to be much easier on your digestion. The lessened sugar and overall more natural ingredients generally make them much milder on the digestive system.
- 365 Organic Strawberry Conserves (Click to see Amazon Listing) A child-friendly store brand of Whole Foods.
- Bionaturae Organic Fruit Spread, sweetened with fruit and fruit juice and 30 calories per tablespoon. Bionaturae uses only organic, hand-harvested heirloom fruits. Heirloom fruits have never been hybridized.
- Polaner All Fruit Spreadable Fruit, sweetened with fruit and fruit juice, 35 calories per tablespoon, and certified non-GMO.
- Smuckers Fruit & Honey, sweetened with honey and 35 calories per tablespoon.
- Smuckers Low-Sugar Preserves, low sugar content and 40 calories per tablespoon. (Downside is added color and preservatives.)
- Smuckers Simply Fruit, no added sugar and 40 calories per tablespoon.
What Else Could Be Causing My Constipation?
First off, constipation is often described as having fewer than 3 bowel movements per week. But, chronic constipation according to patient health information from Mayo Clinic is infrequent bowel movements and difficulty in passing stools that lasts for several weeks.
So, if you have one or two days where you are having trouble going to the bathroom then it’s probably nothing to worry about. Just try to eat more fiber for the next few days and contact your doctor if it does not improve.
Here are a few other things that could cause constipation you might be consuming with jam or jelly:
- Dairy – Everyone loves a glass of milk with their peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The problem is, full-fat dairy can cause slow digestion and constipation whether you are sensitive to lactose or not.
- Cereal – A lot of people eat jelly on toast for breakfast and a bowl of cereal as well. Processed grains along with milk can cause a double whammy when it comes to becoming backed up.
- Fried Foods – Having bacon with your breakfast as well as jelly on a biscuit? The high fat of fried foods can contribute to digestive issues, including constipation.
The Bottom Line
Constipation is an uncomfortable condition that many people do battle with on a daily basis and if allowed to continue indefinitely could lead to greater problems such as diverticulosis.
However, jelly or jam is probably not causing your constipation. If eaten in moderation and if there are no underlying health conditions at play. You are probably eating something with it that is the true culprit.
But yes, if there is a health issue such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease or IBS and on a regular basis you eat a lot of jam made with berries that contain small seeds.
The probable cause of your constipation is the toast, sandwiches, biscuits, and muffins you are spreading the jelly on and not the jelly itself, especially if you have one of the gluten allergies like celiac disease.
By the way, I also did an article on oatmeal and constipation if you want to check it out.
Do eggs cause constipation?
Similarly to jelly, it is usually what you are eating with eggs that causes constipation and not the eggs themselves. Drinking milk and eating foods high in fat along with eggs are usually the culprits.
Does yogurt cause constipation?
While many dairy products can cause constipation, yogurt is not typically one of them. Yogurt has healthy bacteria and probiotics that are actually known to help relieve constipation.
Foods That Can Cause Constipation
- Dairy products like cheese, ice cream, and milk.
- Foods made with white flour, like bread, bagels, cakes, and cookies.
- Fried foods like fried chicken, fried fish, and French fries.
- Gluten products made with wheat, barley, rye, and other grains.
- Processed foods like white rice.
- Processed meats like salami, bologna, and hot dogs.
- Red meat, although grass-fed and pasture raised beef would probably not adversely affect your digestion.
Other Factors That Can Lead To Constipation
- Being a woman.
- Calcium and iron.
- Certain medications such as painkillers and antidepressants.
- Depression and other mental health issues.
- Medical conditions such as underactive thyroid and inflammatory bowel disease.
Natural Aids To Relieve Constipation
- Avoid the foods that you know or suspect cause a problem.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Eat a balanced diet that includes a sufficient amount of fiber.
- Exercise regularly.
- Don’t avoid the urge to go.
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