What do low carb, Keto, Whole30 and detox program dieters have in common? They are all posting questions asking how to relieve constipation daily.
No one wants to be constipated but the fact that the dieters and detoxers, who are exerting great effort to get healthy and lose weight, are getting constipated instead is just plain unfair.
I’m sure these dieters are not alone. A recent survey conducted by the American Gastroenterological Association Technical Review on Constipation shows 16% of all Americans are constipated.
Constipation Can Sabotage Weight Loss Efforts
We all know that constipation is a pain in the rear (sorry I couldn’t help myself), but constipation can hinder weight loss results too. Constipation causes toxicity and inflammation. In his article Toxins and Fat Gain: What You Need To Know, Alex Fergus explains how stored toxins not only make us fat, but they disrupt fat burning. Jonathan Bailor’s article Inflammation: The Hidden Cause of all Disease, Including Obesity, says that studies are showing neurological inflammation can be the main cause of weight gain and obesity!
In the article How Constipation Can Make You Fat, the author, Lynda Griparic, a Naturopath and Nutritionist who specializes in constipation, gut health, and weight loss shares some of the problems constipation can cause. Bacteria overgrowth, inflammation, leaky gut, gut bacteria imbalance, blood sugar imbalance, appetite control, thyroid issues, poor energy, and digestion issues are all possible effects of constipation. All of these conditions are linked to weight gain and can hinder weight loss.
Plan to Alleviate Constipation
Since the beginning of this article was less than pleasant, please allow me to turn it around for you. I have compiled a list of foods and supplement to alleviate constipation. The great news is there are a ton of options, so you should be able to form a plan!
Foods that Can Help Alleviate Constipation
Eat Your Veggies
Introduce 5+ servings of fresh and frozen veggies to your diet daily. Sweet potatoes, corn, peas, carrots, tomatoes, spinach, broccoli, and cauliflower are all fiber-rich veggies.
You know that yummy green fruit we all love? Kiwi has been found to be excellent for digestion. Advances in Food and Nutrition Research reported eating kiwi promotes regular bowel movements. Researchers in Taipei found eating two kiwis a day increased the number of bowel movements in adults with constipation.
An apple a day just doesn’t keep the doctor away; it can also keep constipation at bay. The same goes for a glass of apple juice or apple cider, just like apples, all three act as natural laxatives after a meal.
Artichokes are well known for having a prebiotic effect, promoting good gut health and regularity. One medium artichoke has 6 grams of dietary fiber! That’s a quarter of the recommended daily amount and more fiber than in one whole cup of prunes! If you are like me and can’t imagine eating an artichoke, don’t worry, there is a great artichoke supplement that will be mentioned later in this article.
Berries such as blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries are some of the healthiest food and they are delicious treats too!
Flaxseeds have been used for centuries as a remedy for constipation because they have numerous natural laxative effects. They are also rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber which makes them a great digestive aid. Spectrum organic ground flax seeds are a favorite in my house.
Kefir is a fermented milk beverage that originated in the mountains in West Asia. It is a probiotic and it contains bacteria and yeasts that benefit your health.
In case you are unfamiliar, kombucha is a sweetened and fermented tea that can be found in the refrigerated section of most health food stores. It has probiotics that help bring balance to the flora of your digestive tract. It also detoxifies and eliminates toxic metals and toxins….and unfortunately, we all know, if you are constipated your body has built up toxins. We just started drinking GT’s Raw Kombucha and I can personally vouch for its effectiveness!
Pears are not only delicious they are rich in fiber, with about 5.5 grams in a medium-sized pear. One pear is equal to 22% of the recommended daily fiber intake!
I vividly remember my Nonnie handing out prunes to any of her grandchildren who were constipated—she was on to something. Prunes are extremely rich in fiber and a compound that stimulates the colon.
Rhubarb pie was another of my Nonnie’s favorites. It acts as a natural laxative because of its stringy consistency. If you don’t have a good pie recipe, try it in your morning smoothie.
Nature’s candy is extremely high in fiber as well as tartaric acid, which has a laxative effect on the digestive systems.
Sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds have the roughage the body needs to bulk up stool and soften food waste in the intestines, therefore making bowel movements gentler on the body.
Oat bran is a great source of fiber and has much more fiber than quick oats. In a one-third cup of oat bran, there are 4.8 grams of fiber, compared to 2.7 grams in quick oats.
Olive oil, sunflower oil, soy oil, and other vegetable oils lubricate the intestines and make elimination go more smoothly. Try mixing a tablespoon of your favorite oil with herbs, a little lemon juice, and red wine vinegar and use it as a salad dressing or bread dip.
Supplements & Other Things You Can Do To Help Constipation
Artichoke extract has been studied and proven to reduce the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Jarrow Formulas makes a great artichoke supplement.
Epson Salt Bath
When you add Epson salt to either your bath or a foot bath, your body absorbs the magnesium transdermally through your skin, therefore Epson salt baths are a fantastic source of magnesium. I add about 2 cups of Epsom salt to my bath and soak for at least 20-45minutes or 1/4cup to a foot bath and soak for 30-45minutes.
Magnesium citrate works by pulling water into the intestines because the water combines with the dry stool it makes it easier to pass. My integrative physician suggested Klaire Labs Magnesium and told to me to start by taking one pill a night before bed. If I still needed additional constipation help, he recommended I take two the next day, and potentially three the following day if I still wasn’t stooling. He suggested I titrate down once I started to “feel like a goose”.
Buffered Ascorbic Acid
High doses of this antioxidant (1,000-4,500 mg/day) are well-known to relieve constipation when taken on an empty stomach. Pure Encapsulations makes a great buffered ascorbic acid. I can personally vouch for buffered ascorbic acid because my family has been using it for over 5 years. Because it can be a little tough on the tummy, we typically start with magnesium but don’t hesitate to take it when necessary.
Restoring healthy intestinal flora balance in the gut should be part of any regimen to improve bowel function because it can be a long term solution for constipation. Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum are very helpful strands. Klaire Labs Ther-Biotic Complete is one of my favorites and is also recommended by Melissa Hartwig, creator of the Whole30. Be sure to rotate your probiotics for best results.
Natural Calm Magnesium Citrate
I know several people who swear by Natural Calm Magnesium Citrate. It is great for people who cannot swallow a pill because it is a powder that dissolves into water or juice. It is known for restoring healthy magnesium levels and balances calcium intake.
Smooth Move Tea
Smooth Move Tea is a favorite among my friends. It is a senna-based herbal tea because Senna works by gently stimulating your intestines and aiding your body’s natural elimination process. When it is combined with fennel, coriander, and ginger to reduce the likelihood of unpleasant feelings like cramping. Smooth Move is best taken at bedtime.