So it seems like all these discussions are somewhat tentative, or inversely, pretty far out-there. Maybe I can walk the line here.
I've been eating paleo for maybe 6 months now, no dairy besides butter, no fruit, no nuts besides macadamias. The transition followed a 4 year period of vegetarianism, the end of which (around 1 year ago) brought with it a bought of constipation identical to the kind I'm experiencing now. I was, and am, going seldom, and with little result. Then and now I've taken Miralax, which helps slightly, but obviously I don't want to depend on it forever. Last year, I had to be admitted to the hospital for a couple days so they could do x-rays and what-not, as well as a massive Go Lytely treatment, which worked, with my situation getting progressively better, especially during the summer.
Anyway, jump to the start of school, and my constipation was back. These days, though, I'm eating clean paleo, IFing a lot, and generally doing everything in my power to be healthy, which seems elusive. However, I'm living with my parents, who really question my eating, and think it could be behind my constipation. They also advocate conventional constipation cures (prunes, raisins, fiber). I don't think fiber is an issue. I eat a lot of vegetables/grass fed beef/salmon/butter/EVOO, and that's about it.
If anyone could answer any of the following, I would be really indebted. Thanks!
1) Could my constipation be from:
- Stress? (This jumps out at me, as the school year corresponds to the start of my constipation, and schoolwork is pretty demanding for me.)
- Lack of fruit? (Should I eat
prunes/raisins/any other fruit? Is
the conventional wisdom about prunes, specifically, accurate?)
- Intermittent Fasting? (I could be
doing it wrong. I don't eat from 7:30 PM to 3:00 PM every day.)
- Probiotic/Enzyme Stuff? (I'll be
honest, I just spent 2 hours reading about this stuff and I'm still pretty lost. It seems they are more
recommended for diarrhea, or I
- Physical Issues? (Could my gut be physically damaged?)
Once again, anything you could offer will be received gratefully. I hope that, since this is such a long question, others will benefit from it as well.
Get Free Paleo Recipes Instantly
I think it's generally accepted that constipation is due to deficient bacterial populations, not lack of fiber per se, though fiber is important for feeding those populations. I'd recommend probiotics for everyone raised in a conventional Western environment, as there is evidence most of us have poor bacterial populations.
Kefir works for some people, not for others, making your own is generally recommended. Otherwise dairy is known to be constipating, so I'd def avoid cheese. Prebiotics like FOS and inulin can also help, though they just give me gas.
What is the water content of your diet like? Do you drink enough fluids during the day? Why are you avoiding fruit? If you can get your hands on a bag of fresh cranberries, you can crush or cook them and eat them with meat. That's the kind of things Inuit ate and prized, though if you wanted to be super authentic you could preserve them in seal oil like they did :) Seaweed might also clear things up. Most scientists agree that paleolithic and hunter-gatherer diets were/are pretty high in fiber. Pastoral cultures that don't get much fiber like the Masai drink bitter herbal teas. Some of these might help you, I find licorice pretty soothing for the digestive tract.
What is your organ meat consumption like? Fish oil? Cod liver oil?
I wouldn't take Miralax again, it just messes with the gut bacteria that you want to nuture and that are responsible for keeping things going.
Definitely eat breakfast and lunch until it clears up. I started eating breakfast a few months ago and WOW my regularity has improved. Bacteria don't like starving :(
Err..what is your poo like? Does it have visible bits of food? If it does Betaine HCL might be advisable after meals.
Don't assume that all the paleo foods are OK for your digestion. Broccoli, raw cabbage, Kale and possibly collards all cause bloating and constipation for me. Broccoli is by far the worst, and it's a shame because I really like the stuff.
I drink a lot of water, and even with that, I cannot eat more than 35g or so of fiber and expect to poop regularly. If your gut is damaged, too much fiber is not helpful.
I also found that when I cut sweet potatoes and bananas (my two favorite paleo starch/sugar sources), things slow down. Adding more onions and garlic to my diet seems to help. It's my understanding that they contain pre-biotics.
I would also echo the others - take some magnesium at night before bed. Natural calm is definitely good, or you can try magnesium glycinate capsules.
I had the same problem on and off and it was one of the things that kicked me into paleo circles. I too was a vegetarian, but for 9 years, and thought high fibre was the holy grain of diets. Now, however, I eat no grains, occasionally pumpkin or cauliflower, but mostly fish, meat, eggs and vegetables. And a LOT of probiotics. I make my own kefir (milk and water variety), kombucha, kimchi and sauerkraut. I think this has made the biggest difference, as well as eating a proper breakfast. Kefir tends to promote peristalsis in the gut which gets things moving, which is why it's a great thing to take in the morning. I strain mine so it ends up as thick as sour cream and eat it with eggs and kimchi, which I find surprisingly effective.
Stress from school can be a major thing too, especially if you have to hurry in the morning to get ready. I would recommend getting up a little earlier just to have a cup of hot tea and sit quietly, then eat breakfast and continue to sit, and maybe your guts still start to rumble (!) Another thing that got me on the right track, but I find too strong now, is the Ayurvedic remedy Triphala, which I took in capsules. That plus a tbsp of olive oil before bed (stimulates bile from the liver which moves things along) and the probiotics worked absolute wonders. Good luck!
Dr Art Ayers at http://coolinginflammation.blogspot.com/search?q=constipation is an advocate of healing the gut flora for a myriad of the diseases of civilization. Look around his site and you will find a wealth of information.
"Constipation Means Dysfunctional Gut Flora" to quote Dr. Art.
I do know that to heal the gut and restore good gut flora, he advocates ingesting soluable fiber inulin products. Inulin products are pectin, burdock root, chicory, artichokes, jeruselam artichokes, fresh jicama. I got my burdock root and chicory from a mail order company in Calif. Can't remember name now. Bulk Pectin for low/no sugar jam is avail from http://www.kitchenkrafts.com/search.asp?t=ss&ss=pectin&image1.x=0&image1.y=0
I mix the chicory root and burdock root powder and pectin in my Greek Goddess plain yoghurt.
The only other suggestion dietwise is to increase your fat intake to 75% of total kcals.
And the suggestion of supplementation with magnesium may work. Mag Citrate seems to be the most absorbable.
I would agree with the magnesium (Serene Calm or Natural Calm)! This may be TMI but for as long as I can remember since I was a little kid I would only poop once a week MAYBE and that was with great strain. I just started taking magnesium maybe a month ago and it seems to have started my bowel movements/gut. It also helped me lose a couple of pounds, I figure I was literally full of shit!
My issue (which predated my autoimmune illness - ankylosing spondylitis) is a redundant, torturous colon (it's really called that!). Apparently, my colon has a few twists and bends (as well as "flaccid" or weak colon muscle from long-term problems). I went through 2 separate colonoscopies...as well as many other tests. The best the gastro docs could tell me is, "You have functional constipation." Of course, they just give meds that don't end up working. As of now, no one has given me a solution. At the age of 35, I feel like my colon should be the nursing home.
Paleo diet helps a little. Homemade sauerkraut seems to add good bugs back. I drink hot green tea every morning for around 1 hour on an empty stomach (usually works).
Would love to see more advice on this topic. I think many of us with autoimmune have major colon issues. :(
When posting about constipation you will usually get the same litany of answers about what to put in your body. Coconut oil, cold water on an empty stomach, enzymes, ripe bananas, fiber, coffee etc. You should be doing some/all of this but it is also important to remember that sometimes the problem is not what is going in your body but your body itself. Two pieces of advice for those with constipation.
1) Do not take laxatives. Ever. Sometimes constipation stems from loose intestinal muscles that cannot properly move the bowels along. Using laxatives makes your intestines dependent on the flush of water to the intestines that laxatives cause, instead of training your intestines to do their job properly. Just wait it out, it will come.
2)AND MOST IMPORTANTLY When you are on the toilet, practice the "Asian Squat". http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_Ky72KqArodY/TUpL2d_S9LI/AAAAAAAAAPY/79iq9FvOqTs/s320/AsianSquat.jpg
The way modern toilets are built are actually not optimal for doing one's business because the sitting position turns your intestines into an L shape which is actually supposed to hold everything in. The Asian squat however, aligns your lower intestines and they become "more open" -it is the optimal way to "go". An easy way to do this is to put your feet up on the toilet and with your arms on the back of the toilet to help you with equilibrium. Another way is to sit on the toilet normally but lean forward as much as you can, with your feet on a rest stool, sort of as if you are skiing. This will also relax the bowels. Do this everytime you are in the rest room for a few minutes. It should help.
Here is some more info, in of all places cracked.com. Read #7 http://www.cracked.com/article_19121_7-basic-things-you-wont-believe-youre-all-doing-wrong.html
HIIT also seems to help, as it gets everything pumping and moving.
LET'S BE CLEAR HERE:
Nicole wrote above at:
"...Broccoli, raw cabbage, Kale and possibly collards all cause bloating and constipation for me..."
Bloating sure, but food cannot cause constipation folks.
Constipation is caused by lots of things, generally the absence of something
or the presence in the system of some medications, but there is no way
any food you consume can cause it. I know Nicole's not lying, and I'd never
suggest she was, she's simply making obvious, but incorrect connections.
As Gary Taubes often says: "...correlation does not equal causality!..." ;-)
For the most part, constipation is the result of dietary ommision, not the inclusion of something.
This is as dangerous a 'mythtake' as "eating cholesterol gives you cholesterol"
or "you must drink 8 glasses of water per day" or "milk creates mucus" (for me,
milk creates lots of things, but it doesn't and can't 'cause' mucus, it merely 'feels'
like it does and this is where people become confused.)
Peace and porkchops,
"I'm not a doctor but..."
I would key in on two issues:
You might ease up (or stop completely) the IFing until the constipation clears up. How you're doing it isn't necessarily wrong, per se. But it might not be the best course of action for you until you get the constipation thing figured out.
I found entirely eliminating fiber very helful. I consume offal, gelatin, muscle meat, fish, eggs and some creamed coconut/oil. It has been the best for my digestion.
You must learn to accept your poop and not question it. If you try to fight your poop, your poop will fight back. One technique I have found to be helpful is that when I am sitting on the commode, I repeat the mantra "Poop I embrace you!"
This gives the poop the feeling of security that it needs to venture out into the world, the poop thinks "No matter what happens, once I leave this place at least I will have a friend."
Put yourself in the position of the poop and make its entrance into the world a warm and inviting one.
It sounds to me you need to heal the gut! I am a big supporter of the GAPs diet for people with gut issues. I had IBS for 7 years and after 3 days on GAPs I saw significant improvement. Bone broth/stock is key here though and it needs to be homemade!
I'm also a big fan of magnesium- I take 400 mg (I have read you can take up to 1200 mg per day, but I wouldn't take more than 400mg at a time until you know how it will affect you in the poo department) of magnesium citrate every night before bed. It can also help with headaches & sleep, as an added bonus! I would also start probiotics; they aren't just for those with diarrhea- Dr. Ohira's brand is great. I hope you feel better, & I'd follow up with your doc; if you're having chronic constipation it may warrant a trip to the gastroenterologist. It may be stress-related, but there could be something physically wrong, maybe a blockage?
I asked a similar question many moons ago on another forum:
The best answer was from Samantha (she's a bit of a legend over there):
"My body was exactly the same...for a long time...and over time constipation episodes lasted longer and longer until I just wasn't going but once a week or less.
The solution? Daily exercise. Plenty of fluids. Plenty of fat and vegetables everyday."
- I followed her advice and it proved to be very effective. I think the additional recommendations here of improving gut health (pro/pre-biotics and fermented foods) make a lot of sense and I do this as well these days.
I would encourage you to read this as well for any pointers.
Food intolerance is a possibility. Do a little reading over at celiac.com. You are getting plenty of gluten exposure in that kitchen.
When you eat cleaner you naturally detoxify. You awaken toxins as your body cleanses itself. Your body's main way to eliminate toxins are via the bowel. Sometimes when you eat cleaner you awaken more toxins than your bowel can handle, which results in constipation. To really enjoy the benefits of a clean diet, get a gravity method colonic to remove the excess toxins and help tone the bowel. Read 'The Raw Food Detox Diet' by Natalia Rose or 'The Body Ecology Diet' by Donna Gates for more information. Peace out @memostotle
Good responses so far.
Here are some general guidelines and things that work for me:
Too much protein can back things up. I have IBS (possibly caused by SIBO) and if I eat too much meat, I get constipated. Red meat is bad if you have SIBO since bad bacteria thrive on iron-rich meat. Eat fish instead.
Not enough fat. Avocados seem to help me. Eat coconut oil frequently.
Avoid hard to digest vegetables. Stick with easy digesting vegetables (i.e. romaine lettuce, cucumbers, etc.) & nothing too tough.
Eat some fruit, why not?
Magnesium before bed.
What works for me: 1. getting up around the same time every day (between 7-8 am) - today i have slept until 10 am and - no luck! Make sure it is 1,5-2 hrs before you need to go, so you have enough time for a proper breakfast and quality toilet time. 2. having the same breakfast every day, the one that works for you (for me, a smoothie and a coffee) 3. going to toilet almost immediately after breakfast and sit as long as you need, reading books, comics, playing games on your phone, whatever makes you relaxed. Do not let anyone rush you! 4. make sure you eat enough. Undereating stops my system. Fatty food helps.
1.What are the vegetables you eat? Some folks find cruciferous and some steamed types of vegetables constipating. 2.Try some safe starch consumption and see if it helps. 3.Take magnesium supplements before bed. 4.Increasing fiber is not the way. 5.Eat some quality saturated fat. 6.Take Vitamin C 7.Try to get early nights. 8.Exercise wisely. 9.Don't skip meals(helps me a lot in stressful college days) 10.Maybe try to stop butter for some time,replace with animal fat.
Drinking water helps to soften the stool and ease the symptoms of constipation. How much water? Probably more than you're drinking at present, and probably more than it might occur to you to drink. Try 6 to 8 glasses per day.
I suffered with this, and found that I had the problem after the days when my carb intake was extremely low due to IF (like less than 20 grams).
I found that keeping my carbs above 30 grams every day (through veg, salad and fruit) solved the problem.
I'm certainly not an expert but have experienced some constipation at times, usually when I travel. I liken that to your stress-induced constipation. The prolonged IFing, to the average Paleo guy's eye, seems at the very least like it would not help one maintain regularity.
I had a similar issue, not fun to experience. Since then I've been making sure my water intake and mineral/electrolyte intake is adequate... I eat a good share of veggies but I'll also do a little inulin (fiber from root veggies) - I'm not sure what everyone's take is on that supplement. But after that I've been doing pretty well, except for some gas. I'm not sure this is the answer you're looking for, just my anecdotal experience.