Low Carb Diet Constipation? You can do that!
Whenever you change your eating habits, you will also notice changes in digestion. For example, many people who start a low-carb diet suffer from constipation, which is still known as “keto constipation”. Over time, the digestive system will get used to the diet, but there are several ways to relieve symptoms and help your body adjust.
What is constipation?
Generally, longer periods without bowel movements, such as fewer than three bowel movements per week, are called constipation. However, what is considered “normal” varies greatly from person to person. If you normally have bowel movements every day and suddenly don't have any for several days, and / or if you have abdominal pain and bloating, you are probably constipated.
Constipation occurs for several reasons. Sometimes the constipation is not caused by the stool, but by intestinal problems. Medications, state of health, your physical activity and even stress can cause the bowel to work more slowly, which means that the stool takes longer to move through the bowel.
However, constipation can also be caused by factors other than your diet. Certain medications and some health conditions can also be the cause. Although dietary changes are a common cause of indigestion, you should see your doctor if constipation persists.
Low carb and keto diet constipation
Any change in diet can change your bowel habits, especially if you are just starting out. In studies in children with epilepsy treated with the keto diet, constipation is a known side effect. Although it generally does not last long and cannot be treated, some people find the side effect of persistent constipation so worrying that they do not eat a low-carb diet.
One reason people get constipated from a low-carb or keto diet is that they usually eat less fiber (soluble fiber, insoluble fiber, or both). Reduced fiber intake is especially common when people are unsure of what to eat on a low-carb diet.
For example, according to the dietary rules, you might eat less starchy vegetables, but don't realize that you should increase your intake of non-starchy vegetables. Although fiber is a carbohydrate, most low-carb diets do not consider it part of your daily carbohydrate needs because it has no effect on your blood sugar.
Even if you understand your eating plan and goals, a low carb or keto diet can still lead to constipation. If this is the case for you, use these tips and tricks to relieve your symptoms until your body gets used to the change.
Drink enough water
Drinking enough water every day is important for your overall health, but good hydration is especially important for regular bowel function. If you don't drink enough water, your body begins to draw water from your colon to fight dehydration.
Not all liquids are the same when it comes to staying hydrated. Avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks that can cause constipation. If you're struggling with flatulence, avoid carbonated drinks.
Do not eat starchy vegetables
Vegetables that are not starchy have a high fiber content, are nutrient-rich and have a very low content of digestible carbohydrates. These properties mean that they have little to no effect on your blood sugar level, making them a good choice for a low-carb diet compared to starchy vegetables.
You can increase the benefits to gut health by lightly salting your vegetables. On a low-carb diet, especially if you reduce or completely give up processed foods, the sodium balance in your body will change. The changed fluid balance can lead to constipation. Even if you don't want to eat a lot of salt, you still need to include sufficient amounts in your diet. A pinch of salt when cooking or to taste is considered healthy.
Add natural laxatives
Many foods have a natural laxative effect. Foods that are high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids promote regular, healthy bowel function.
Some of the most popular natural laxatives are:
Spices and herbs such as cayenne pepper, turmeric and ginger
If you eat a low-carb diet, avoid high-sugar fruit. Instead, opt for low-sugar fruits like berries and citrus fruits, which can be a great source of fiber. Packed with lots of vitamins, minerals and fiber, nuts and seeds are a quick and easy way to fight constipation. Flax seeds and chia seeds are popular natural remedies for constipation because they contain more soluble fiber than other varieties.
You can easily add many of these foods to your yogurt for breakfast (which is also full of well-tolerated probiotics), or use them as ingredients in a high-fiber smoothie. However, you should not feed the body with too much fiber. Otherwise, you may experience indigestion and bloating.
Use fiber supplements
While you should focus on getting as much fiber as possible from food, fiber supplements can also be helpful if you are struggling with constipation.
The most common dietary fiber supplements are made from psyllium husk. Psyllium is mostly soluble fiber, but also has insoluble fiber. Once the powder is dissolved in water, you need to drink it fairly quickly – otherwise it can become muddy and viscous because the fiber absorbs the liquid.
However, if you are on a low-carb or keto diet, these variations can be a problem: these products, which are mixed as a powder in water or in your morning coffee, contain a significant amount of sugar. You can also take psyllium capsules, but you'll need to take more of them to offset the effects of the powder. Make sure you take them with plenty of water. An alternative to powders or capsules is to purchase whole psyllium husks from your local health food store.
Other dietary fiber supplements are mainly insoluble fiber. One example is wheat bran. While they can be an effective remedy for constipation, they are high in carbohydrates. If you are on a low-carb diet, pay attention to the starch content of bran.
Eat dairy products in moderation
If you eat fewer carbohydrates, you may add more dairy products to your diet, especially cottage cheese and yogurt. While milk is often associated with the symptoms of lactose intolerance, some people even find milk products to be constipating.
If you've recently started eating low in carbohydrates and added more cheese, milk, and yogurt to your diet, try reducing their levels and checking to see if your symptoms improve. You can also try replacing cow's milk with milk alternatives like rice, almond, and soy milk.
Pay attention to your magnesium intake
Constipation is a common side effect of magnesium deficiency. Even if you are on a diet, you should avoid a lack of nutrients. If you cut or reduce certain food groups from your diet, there is a risk that you will not get enough of certain vitamins and minerals. Fortunately, it is easy to find other sources of these important nutrients.
If you lack magnesium and are unable to adequately meet your magnesium needs through food, consider taking a dietary supplement. However, some forms of magnesium are better absorbed than others. If you take a form of magnesium that your body does not tolerate well, these supplements could cause diarrhea.
Research on probiotics is far from conclusive, but some preliminary studies suggest that certain foods, such as yogurt and kefir, can have a positive impact on the colonies of bacteria (or microflora) in the colon. In some cases, the right type of bacteria (and in the right amount) can help with certain intestinal problems.
While intestinal health research is still under development, there are many ways to try probiotics and see if they benefit you. In addition to probiotic foods, there are also probiotic capsules and even drinks.
Use fish oil
Some research suggests that insufficient amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in our diet can lead to constipation. Fish like salmon are rich sources of food for omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for a low-carb diet.
If you don't eat a lot of fatty fish, you can also try taking fish oil as a supplement, although they can have side effects. These can be nausea, heartburn, diarrhea, abdominal pain and a fishy aftertaste in the mouth. If you try fish oil supplements and find these side effects worrying, talk to your doctor about ways to reduce them, or try to get more omega-3 fatty acids from your diet instead.
Bring more movement into your everyday life
Regular exercise, even something as simple as a walk at lunchtime or a walk with your dog after dinner, can help address various possible causes of constipation. Exercise boosts metabolism and can help relieve stress, anxiety and worry that can all contribute to constipation.
Should You Use Laxatives For Keto Constipation?
Avoid laxatives or medications to treat constipation unless your doctor tells you to. Herbal constipation remedies like senna have their own side effects and risks – and they may not offer long-term relief.
Other over-the-counter products such as stool softeners can help relieve the symptoms of constipation. These products can be helpful if your constipation is caused by hard, dry stools, but may not work for other causes.
If you are certain that a change in diet is the cause of your constipation, but these tips to relieve your symptoms will not help, you should definitely speak to your doctor. Constipation can be caused by a number of health problems. Knowing the reason for this can help you find the right treatment more quickly.
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