Constipation refers to an uncomfortable reduction in the frequency of bowel movements.
According to the Medical Journal, one can be constipated when they have three or fewer bowel movements per week.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CONSTIPATION AND PATHOLOGICAL CONSTIPATION?
However, there is a need to differentiate the natural decrease in frequency from pathological constipation.
Pathological constipation symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, gas, bloody stool, and difficulty in passing stool.
In the case, these symptoms aren’t present. The chances are high that this is a natural reduction of frequency in stool and not constipation.
A variety of things triggers constipation, one of them being a low-carb diet.
Low carb diet constipation often happens while the body is adjusting to the start of the new diet. Our bodies are meant to digest three types of macronutrients: Fats, proteins and carbs.
The gastrointestinal tract digests the normally high carb content. However, a low carb diet means lower carb levels, and the gastrointestinal tract now has to digest high levels of fat.
The resulting stress on the gastrointestinal tract induces constipation.
Although low carb diet constipation can be quite uncomfortable initially, the body gets used to high-fat digestion eventually.
That said, there are ways to remedy or prevent low-carb diet constipation. They include:
1. STAYING HYDRATED
Drinking water is essential to every anatomic process in the human body. As such, hydration is a vital part of bowel function.
When you are dehydrated, the body will go to extreme measures to keep things running. This adversely affects bowel functions.
For instance, water is often drawn from the colon in a state of dehydration. This means the stool can’t be hydrated or lubricated as it is passed.
This, therefore, leads to constipation.
2. EAT NON-STARCHY VEGETABLES
Non-starchy vegetables are high in fibre—a core nutrient when it comes to proper bowel function. A lot of times, low-carb diet constipation is fueled by neglecting adequate fibre within the meal plans.
However, by including low-calorie, water-packed vegetables to your diet, you improve bowel function. This is because the fibre in the vegetables doesn’t break down during digestion.
Instead, they bulk up and soften the stool. Approximately 21 to 38 grams of consistent servings of vegetables depending on gender and age should provide you with enough fibre.
Examples of non-starchy vegetables include spinach, carrots, spinach, broccoli and asparagus.
3. INCORPORATE NATURAL LAXATIVE FOODS
Laxative foods refer to foods that stimulate bowel movements and loosen up a stool to ease its passage. This should be pretty helpful in the case of low-carb diet constipation.
There are a plethora of foods with laxative properties. They include avocado, aloe vera, beans, garlic and spices such as ginger, turmeric and cayenne.
Incorporating such foods into your diet should help in the case of laborious passing of stool.
4. CONTROL YOUR DAIRY INTAKE
Due to the nature of a low-carb diet, it might be necessary to add dairy products. For instance, many yoghurts and cottage cheese are used in a low-carb diet’s meal plans.
Generally, it increases your dairy intake. As such, excessive dairy may be causing digestion discomfort as it can’t be digested quick enough, which leads to constipation.
It is thus recommended to cut back on the dairy products and observe whether the symptoms go away. In the case you don’t want to wait, there are non-dairy alternatives such as rice and almond milk.
You should note that excessive milk can give you constipation whether you are lactose intolerant or not.
5. DONT OVEREAT
A low-carb diet might sometimes prove difficult for those used to empty carbs that aren’t too filling. This means they are used to eating not for sustenance but until they are well and truly full.
This often leads to overeating even when on a low-carb diet. Filling up on food to this extent overworks the liver and kidneys.
As a result, they end up using lots of water, including some from the intestines, leaving you dehydrated. As highlighted above, this leads to an unlubricated stool that is hard to pass.
6. OBSERVE YOUR MAGNESIUM LEVELS
A new diet means you cut down on many things by eliminating certain food groups from your diet. As a result, you run a risk of ending up with certain nutrient deficiencies.
One such nutrient is magnesium, one of the common side effects of low magnesium is constipation. Low-carb diet constipation can therefore be caused as a result of a magnesium deficiency.
Magnesium levels can be raised by incorporating foods filled with similar nutrients. However, in the case, these foods don’t provide adequate help, yo; you resort to magnesium supplements.
However, you would be advised to ensure you use magnesium that is well absorbed by your body. This is because choosing the wrong supplement can have counterproductive effects, i.e., diarrhoea.
As such, consult with your doctor before taking any medication.
7. TRY OUT FISH OIL
Inadequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids or fish oil can cause constipation. As such, consumption of foods filled with such nutrients is used to raise your fatty acid levels.
As the name suggests the foods filled with these nutrients are oily fish. Fish such as salmon are prevalent in low-carb meal plans.
Although oily fish is the more popular source of fatty acids, omega-3 supplements are also widely used.
They are, however, less popular due to their side effects. These effects include a fishy aftertaste, diarrhoea and nausea,
You should, therefore consult your doctor before opting for supplements.
8. ENGAGE IN PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
Physical activity doesn’t necessarily mean having to sweat it out in a gym. Simple low impact exercises can help out with low carb diet constipation.
Exercising has a couple of benefits that directly help remedy constipation. First, exercise reasonably speeds up the digestion process.
It also increases the nitric oxide levels in your body which helps empty your colons. All these benefits can be achieved by doing something as simple as taking a stroll.
9. SNACK ON FRUITS IN MODERATION
Many low-carb diets discourage the inclusion of fruits into your meal plan due to their natural sugar. However, there is a way around this. Seek out low-sugar high-fibre fruits.
The best of such fruits happens to be berries. Berries tend to have lower sugar and higher fibre than other nutrients.
For instance, berries have 15 grams carbohydrates per cup with 8 grams purely coming from fibre.
10. SALT YOUR FOOD
The dangers of too much salt are well-documented. However, a lot of these reservations are in regards to processed foods. Whole foods allow more laxity.
Therefore, you can salt your food to taste when eating whole foods. In fact, it is highly recommended that you salt your food.
This is because the low-carb diet lowers salt levels which can cause constipation.
HOW PREVALENT IS CONSTIPATION IN A LOW-CARB DIET?
There is a raging debate on how likely it is for users of the low-carb diet to get constipated. One section of the medical community alludes to a 50% prevalence.
On the other hand, the other section alludes to a 25% prevalence. There is, however, lack of conclusive airtight evidence as to how prevalent constipation is among dieters.
Low-carb diet constipation can be an inconveniencing impediment to the start of your weight loss journey. However, this shouldn’t discourage you from pursuing your weight loss goals.
There are numerous remedies to help cope with the situation in the event it occurs. Pick what’s most suitable for you.[related_posts_by_tax posts_per_page="4"]