Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Can soy milk cause constipation?"
Since I developed a dairy-allergy, I've been drinking a lot of soy milk. Recently, though, I've been having a hard time staying regular. Can soymilk cause constipation, or is there some other culprit?
Constipation may be caused by any number of food items. In people that have become intolerant to cow’s milk, soy milk is typically a very good option. In fact, just about ten years ago there was a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that reported on a randomized controlled trial that evaluated symptoms of constipation in children initially drinking cow’s milk. The study showed that switching to soy milk was associated with improved regularity and decreased symptoms of pain. Unfortunately, there is very little information in the medical literature about soy milk and constipation specifically, though it is known that soy protein can be an allergen and be associated with constipation. You can always try switching to almond milk to see if this improves your symptoms. Any number of foods can be associated with constipation including egg, wheat, rice, corn, potato, chicken, beef, etc. However, there are many other causes of constipation beyond specific food items, most notably not drinking enough liquid or eating enough foods with fiber. Without sufficient quantities of both in the diet constipation is likely to occur. Another important factor in constipation is lack of exercise, and though it is not precisely clear how increasing exercise improves symptoms it frequently can. Other common factors in constipation include changes in your normal routine, travel, stress, pregnancy, medications (there are many), or problems inherent to the GI tract. Your primary care physician or a nutritionist can best help you look for the causes in your life and help you find solutions that will work for you. Good luck!