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Getting frustrated with digestive issues (constipation) - Please help!

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created July 02, 2013 at 2:10 PM

I have been eating Paleo for over four months and all is lovely EXCEPT for (get ready) the hard stools I've been experiencing for 3 of those months! I'm in my early 30s, still breastfeeding a 19 month old, and have 1st degree bladder prolapse which means pushing on the toilet is a big N-O! (Too much stress on already stressed pelvic floor). The first month of Paleo I had the opposite problem as my body adjusted to digesting fats instead of carbs. And then my digestive system seems to have slowed down. It is stressful and can be uncomfortable at times. I still go every day or every other day, but it requires effort and they are hard little bastards. The things I've tried:

  • I use a squatty potty
  • Used Magnesium (Natural Calm) daily and it helped EXCEPT I stopped using it because it seemed to make my prolapse symptoms worse (since it relaxes smooth muscles, it seemed to also over-relax my pelvic floor).
  • I have been trying Dandelion Root as a digestive bitter before meals - have not noticed much of an effect
  • I add coconut oil to my tea (trying to add fats)
  • I've been taking probiotics 2-3 times a day (Jarro D) - still not really seeing a change
  • Dabbled in: raw sauerkraut, kombucha... not noticing any effects (although I love kombucha).

I have done more traveling than usual the past month and have chosen to eat cheese and some gluten-free (but non-paleo) foods like gluten-free pizza, etc on my travels. Whenever I eat these foods I have NO problems going to the bathroom. Actually, I've always considered myself somewhat lactose intolerant and had loose stools for years before pregnancy. I cut dairy before going paleo and my digestive system seems STUCK in this slow mode. Perhaps it's damaged from years of abuse.

Any suggestions? Despite my medium-level dairy intolerance, I've been considering trying kefir. Another thing I'd like to try possibly is digestive enzymes. I'm concerned about creating a "crutch" - taking something that really is a laxative that will continue to train my body to NEED laxatives. Anyone with any wisdom on this subject?? I'm almost considering backing off the Paleo for now because the constipation is very stressful, but I don't really want to do that.

Thank you for your help.

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on July 02, 2013
at 04:45 PM

Well, in the end, it was a guess, and that is usually what I tell people who have similar issues (and why I was so sure!). Yes, I would avoid supplemental fibers, and get any dietary fiber from ... your diet!

Bcd52745567da40c849c4aa31d3165dc

(0)

on July 02, 2013
at 04:33 PM

Kevin, that's really interesting! I started taking them because they are enteric coated. I also had GBS during pregnancy (which resulted in needing antibiotics during labor) and I read that Jarrow enteric probiotics could help clear that up as well. I'm not interested in another mega-dose of antibiotics if I end up having a another baby. However, I'm definitely going to look into the PresciptAssist brand. Thanks!!

Bcd52745567da40c849c4aa31d3165dc

(0)

on July 02, 2013
at 04:30 PM

Hi Greymouser, thanks for your response! I would say I do eat a lot of veggies but I'm definitely not carb/starch-averse. I eat sweet potatoes, spaghetti squash, parnsips, and carrots, but maybe not enough?? I think this could have something to do with it but I also think I have some damage to my gut. I've been exploring the Fiber Menace website and trying to make sense of his suggestions (I find his site interesting but confusing in terms of layout and am a little suspicious of being sold supplements). It may be that I'm eating too much fiber. Here is a sample day of meals: breakfast: 3 scra

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4 Answers

3
Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on July 02, 2013
at 03:12 PM

Would you say that when you are "eating paleo" you generally have a metric fuck-ton of vegetables, and little to no starchy foods?

I ask the above, because you stated ... "foods like gluten-free pizza, etc on my travels. Whenever I eat these foods I have NO problems going to the bathroom," which tells me that you are likely eating a lot of insoluble fiber, and very little soluble fiber or resistant starch.

Stool made up of just roughage will not be easy to pass -- soluble fiber and resistant starch help give the stool "body", but also keep it hydrated, easing it's passing. There are a plethora of paleo foods that contain this sort of fiber - veggies from the ground like beets, carrots, parsnips; other veggies like squashes; and tuber/roots and starchy fruits like sweet potatoes, potatoes, plantains, bananas, yuca, taro, and more.

Experiment slowly and purposefully -- you don't want to eat something that binds you up even more in excess -- e.g. I can't really handle potatoes, even though many people can.

Bcd52745567da40c849c4aa31d3165dc

(0)

on July 02, 2013
at 04:30 PM

Hi Greymouser, thanks for your response! I would say I do eat a lot of veggies but I'm definitely not carb/starch-averse. I eat sweet potatoes, spaghetti squash, parnsips, and carrots, but maybe not enough?? I think this could have something to do with it but I also think I have some damage to my gut. I've been exploring the Fiber Menace website and trying to make sense of his suggestions (I find his site interesting but confusing in terms of layout and am a little suspicious of being sold supplements). It may be that I'm eating too much fiber. Here is a sample day of meals: breakfast: 3 scra

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on July 02, 2013
at 04:45 PM

Well, in the end, it was a guess, and that is usually what I tell people who have similar issues (and why I was so sure!). Yes, I would avoid supplemental fibers, and get any dietary fiber from ... your diet!

0
Bcd52745567da40c849c4aa31d3165dc

on July 15, 2013
at 05:55 PM

I wanted to post an update in case it's helpful for others. I dropped the probiotics, upped my fat intake and have seen definite improvement. I was already taking coconut oil in my tea, but I'm probably taking about 2-3 tablespoons of added coconut oil a day now. That might not be including what is in my cooking. I add it to tea and smoothies.

I've also begun using gelatin (Great Lakes in the green bottle) in my coffee and here and there, but can't say I'm consistent about its use yet. I'm also giving it to my daughter since she has also been having constipation issues, poor thing!

I do also wonder if the probiotics were actually making things worse... I'm off them completely for now and maybe will add them back in later (or try a different brand) once I'm sure that things are regulated (so to speak) for the long term.

I am also making sure to keep starch on the menu and try to seek out fattier meat - we had been having a lot of super-lean grassfed ground beef (from a local farmer whose cows seem EXTRA lean compared to others) and I think that not enough fat is a big part of the picture.

I hope that this is helpful to anyone else having similar problems! And I hope that things continue to improve!

0
F62e0124c106938b90f28123571ca272

on July 02, 2013
at 04:53 PM

Greetings...same issue when I started Paleo dieting. I have found that psyllium husk will get the digestive system back on track. A teaspoon with 12-16 oz of water once a day--approximately 24 hrs in advance of my usual, ah... sitting, works pretty good. I use the GNC brand. Added benefit (for myself) is a lower cholesterol reading at checkup time.

Cheers

0
D396b126240f584bc358e6e4fd84e9e3

on July 02, 2013
at 04:21 PM

I would drop the Jarrow probiotics. I've found them to greatly reduce motility and induce constipation and bloating. Once I switched to PrescriptAssist (amzn.to/16FYdCf), those issues went away. It's one of the few probiotics that has been studied.

Bcd52745567da40c849c4aa31d3165dc

(0)

on July 02, 2013
at 04:33 PM

Kevin, that's really interesting! I started taking them because they are enteric coated. I also had GBS during pregnancy (which resulted in needing antibiotics during labor) and I read that Jarrow enteric probiotics could help clear that up as well. I'm not interested in another mega-dose of antibiotics if I end up having a another baby. However, I'm definitely going to look into the PresciptAssist brand. Thanks!!

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