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Does Peanut Butter Cause Constipation? A Common Question Answered
Gut Health

Does Peanut Butter Cause Constipation? A Common Question Answered

Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Published on 2022 July 13
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6 min

Does peanut butter cause constipation? Let’s examine what’s behind this sweet treat and its effects on gut health.

does peanut butter cause constipation

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It is packed with protein, healthy fats, and dietary fiber, enjoyed in a variety of ways, from smooth to crunchy with chopped nuts. 

But do you ever wonder if this thick, creamy spread could also be the cause of your constipation? Before you go grab another spoonful, let’s find out if peanut butter consumption really does cause gut issues.

Does Peanut Butter Cause Constipation? 

Good news to all the sweet tooths: peanut butter doesn’t cause constipation as long as you don’t have peanut butter intolerance. 

In fact, peanut butter is a good source of both soluble and insoluble fiber that promotes digestion as it passes through your intestinal tract.

The soluble fiber in peanut butter is in the form of gum and pectin, and it absorbs water to form a thick gel in the digestive system, helping you feel full for a longer period. Meanwhile, insoluble fiber adds bulk to stools to regulate bowel movement and make the passage of stools easier.

However, it is worth noting that commercially savvy manufacturers add additives to improve the taste and texture of peanut butter. This may tamper with its nutritional value and affect people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), who may suffer from peanut butter constipation after consuming the sweet treat.

Nutritional Information

According to U.S. Food Data Central, one serving (two tablespoons) of peanut butter contains 188 calories, 16 grams of fat, 8 grams of protein, and 1.9 grams of crucial dietary fiber. It also provides plenty of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E, magnesium, zinc, and selenium.

In fact, a two-tablespoon serving delivers 7% of the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for folic acid and 9% for vitamin B6. 

Peanut Butter Benefits

Did you know that the unique combination of protein and fiber in peanut butter helps increase satiety, suppress hunger, and reduce cravings?

Peanut butter is also a great source of p-coumaric acid. This compound is enriched with health-promotive antioxidants to combat inflammation and oxidative damage associated with cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis. 

Research also suggests that natural peanut butter is enriched with a healthy phytonutrient called resveratrol, which has been known to fight free radicals that can cause heart disease and cancer.

One of the main constituents of peanut butter is oleic acid, which is a type of monounsaturated fat or “healthy fat” that can lower your bad (LDL) cholesterol. 

And let’s not forget that peanut butter also has lots of magnesium which is an essential nutrient for those with diabetes. It’s because low levels of magnesium have been linked to both prediabetes as well as type 2 diabetes, and those who consume large amounts have a lower risk. 

Peanut Butter Side Effects 

While peanut butter is a great source of protein, it’s also high in fat, and its creamy texture makes it especially easy to go overboard the recommended limit – which is about 2 tablespoons a day for adults. 

Overconsuming peanut butter may cause gas, bloating, and abdominal discomfort. Some conventional brands of peanut butter even include saturated fat in the form of partially hydrogenated oil, which can cause your cholesterol levels to increase.

Naturally, peanut butter is made from ground dry roasted peanuts, which sometimes contain mold and bacteria that can cause allergic reactions. Peanuts also go rancid easily, and if the butter is not processed wisely, it can also be a trigger for food allergies and inflammatory immune reactions.

Peanut Allergy and Intolerance 

It’s important to note that peanut allergy and intolerance are two different health conditions. Peanut allergy occurs when the body has an overreaction to peanuts or foods containing peanuts. 

In this case, your immune system does not recognize the peanut proteins and rejects them, which triggers allergic symptoms like hives, swelling around the upper airway as well as swollen lips, tongue, and throat that can cause difficulty breathing or sharply reduce oxygen levels. 

Alternatively, being peanut intolerant is a different story. Peanut intolerance may be a symptom of gastrointestinal distress caused by an irritated bowel overreacting to foods that contain fiber. As a result of this food intolerance,  you may experience a variety of symptoms such as nausea, stomach pain, gas or abdominal cramps, vomiting, heartburn, and diarrhea.

Ways to Improve Digestion 

A healthy digestive system is essential for good health because your body cannot absorb nutrients or fight illness without a healthy gut. Here are some ways to improve digestion and keep your digestive system running like clockwork.

Eat high-fiber foods 

Fiber is the part of plant foods that our body can’t break down. It absorbs water and makes stools soft and easier to pass. People who don’t get enough fiber in their diet may run a greater risk of developing hemorrhoids or a painful inflammation of the rectum. 

To help regulate your digestive system so that it works properly and efficiently, research suggests that women should aim for 21–25 grams of fiber a day, whereas men should target 50–55 grams a day. Eating a healthy diet rich in fiber, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, and legumes, will help you feel fuller quicker, promoting healthy bowel movements and making you less likely to overeat. 

Pro Tip: One way to help get you started is by choosing a piece of fruit for a snack instead of chips or dessert, adding more vegetables to your favorite salad or sandwich, substituting brown rice for white rice, and choosing hummus instead of tahini.

Stay hydrated 

By staying hydrated, you ensure that your body is getting enough water to function properly. Water also carries important nutrients throughout your body and aids greatly in softening stools and relieving constipation. 

The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that men should drink about 3.7 liters of fluids a day and women should drink about 2.7 liters to flush out food waste and toxins that cause digestive discomfort. As an added bonus, drinking plenty of water may also boost your metabolism and improve your skin’s elasticity! 

Pro Tip: In order to maximize your fluid intake, you can try adding fruit (lemon slices and lime wedges), cucumber, or mint leaves to a glass of water. Or try drinking green tea instead of coffee or soda.

Reduce stress level 

Stress affects our intestines in a variety of ways: it can stop peristalsis (the muscle movement responsible for digestion), constrict blood vessels in your GI tract, and can even cause inflammation throughout your intestinal wall.

Exercise is one of your best bets for reducing stress levels. Any form of exercise is beneficial, from simple walking to jogging or lifting weights. If you’re looking for something more specific that addresses anxiety and tension, try practicing yoga, meditation, or other relaxation techniques.

High-fiber supplements

If your diet is lacking in fiber, it’s probably interfering with your digestive health too. In fact, an average American consumes only 15 grams of fiber per day. That doesn’t even come close to meeting the recommended amount of 25 to 30 grams each day. Getting enough dietary fiber from natural sources can be a bit tricky, so you can always reach out for a high-fiber supplement instead.

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For instance, ColonBroom is a safe, natural, and effective high-fiber supplement to relieve chronic constipation and help you lose weight – naturally. ColonBroom cleanses your body of toxins, stimulates bowel movements, and keeps your digestive tract in working order. 

It is scientifically made with psyllium husk – the essential fiber – that attracts liquids into the intestinal tract, forming a soft gel. This gel gently massages your intestines to stimulate regular bowel movements.

A Word From Nutritionist

While the theory behind peanut butter causing constipation may be widespread, there’s no concrete evidence that peanuts or peanut butter will cause constipation.

But since everybody’s body is different, it can be good to check out the peanut butter brand’s back label to ensure it’s made of organically-grown peanuts and doesn’t contain any added ingredients or natural food chemicals that you may have an allergy to.

Additionally, eating nut butter all by itself or with dry ingredients like wheat bread, bagels, and crackers may not be the best choice for your digestive tract. Adding milk products like yogurt, fresh fruit, and vegetables will aid in the lubrication of your digestive system to process peanut butter more easily, which means healthier bowel movements.

Conclusion

When it comes to the question of “Does peanut butter cause constipation?” it is safe to say that it does not lead to constipation. 

As long as you don’t eat too much peanut butter and have it in moderation, and drink plenty of water throughout your day, you shouldn’t have a problem. 

Remember that as long as you stay hydrated, eat fiber-rich foods, and exercise regularly, you can enjoy peanut butter as a treat.  

But if you are experiencing peanut butter constipation and have a history of peanut or other severe food allergies, consider eliminating nut butters from your diet until these issues have been addressed by a medical professional.

Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed byRosmy Barrios, MD
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