How do I solve constipation is a question that pops up fairly frequently on the low carb social media platforms and sometimes it seems that constipation on a LCHF diet is a given. This is not true. Only some people who have not experienced constipation before become constipated when they start Banting/LCHF and in many cases people complaining of constipation have previously suffered some type of gut pathology in the past from eating a poor diet. Even the best of us can suffer constipation occasionally from eating incorrectly or when stressed or travelling. Never underestimate the constipating effect of having to use a strange loo!
Constipation is usually a transient problem that resolves within a couple of weeks (if not sooner) of starting to Bant. Depending on the damage we have done to our guts, this may take longer.
Ask how to overcome constipation on any social media platform and you will get dozens of different answers. What works for one person may not work for another but do take care when following general advice as many of the solutions offered by well meaning lay people are neither healthy nor harmless.
There are a few tricks that are a helpful preventative or treatment for minor constipation.
The first one may seem obvious. Drink enough water. If you don’t have enough water in your body already — if you’re dehydrated — the large intestine soaks up water from your food waste. This makes hard stools that are difficult to pass. When following a low carb diet we do experience some water loss ( which is why many people see a decrease in blood pressure) So be sure to replace this fluid.
If you find it difficult to drink enough water, make a good bone broth that you can have once a day.
The next very important point to consider is that we have spent years knocking of healthy gut bacteria by eating sugar rich and processed foods and taking all sorts of medication that has a dire effect on our gut microbiome. For optimal digestive function we need to correct this.
Taking a course of good quality probiotics can really help. The official definition of a probiotic is “live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.” Probiotics are bacteria that can be bought in supplement form. Add some pre-biotic fermented foods like sauerkraut, yoghurt, kefir and kombucha that will feed the good bacteria. Different probiotics work for different health conditions so ask your pharmacist or health shop which are best for you. Be sure to get a reputable brand and check that the CFU (colony forming units) are in the billions.
Be sure that you are eating sufficient vegetable matter as well as sufficient fat. Many people start out on a diet by being too restrictive.Some folk think that it’s a protein rich fat feast which results in eliminating a large amount of vegetable matter and therefor fibre from their diets. Some people find that supplementing with Psyllium husk helps relieve constipation and another good source of viscous fibre that has been shown to help relieve constipation is glucomannan. Glucomannan is a natural, water-soluble dietary fibre extracted from the roots of the elephant yam, also known as konjac. Many banters will have seen this in the form of shirataki noodles.
There are many other tips for relieving constipation naturally. Some natural health practitioners recommend lemon juice or Apple Cider Vinegar 10 mins before a meal to help with the secretion of digestive enzymes or drinking ginger tea which has been shown to stimulate peristalsis and regulate stomach acidity.
A magnesium supplement may be beneficial too. Low levels of magnesium affect the peristalsis ( movement of the gut). Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant and it helps relax skeletal muscles as well as the smooth muscles of blood vessels and the gastrointestinal tract by keeping peristalsis – the natural muscle relaxation and contraction of the colon working properly.
Regular exercise may also help with bowel motility, even a brisk 15 minute walk.
It is very important to keep in mind that most of the commonly used laxatives available are gut irritants and will damage the lining of the gut. In fact irritating the gut lining is exactly how they work! Remember we are trying to heal the gut here, not damage it further. If your attempts to get your bowels working do not yield results, please check in with your doctor.
For more information on how to follow a low carb diet or correct lifestyle disease through following a LCHF lifestyle , invest in our book. The Banting Solution.