Constipation can be an issue for some people as they transition into a diet that includes more animal protein and fat and less carbohydrates (grains, beans, lentils, packaged cereals, sugars and refined flours) with a diet history of low fat.
Particularly those going on a low carb or ketogenic diet. Having to fix constipation is important to keep you on track.
Constipation (less than 1 bowel movement a day) can be uncomfortable and down right painful and while it may seem like a good idea to reach for something to fix it, instead, I would encourage you to take a bigger picture look to what’s causing it.
While it may be blatantly obvious that it’s because less fiber is in the diet due to the exclusion of grains, beans and lentils and possibly several servings of fruit a day, it may not be that simple an explanation for some.
3 Often Overlooked Causes of Constipation
1) Low Hydrochloric Acid (HCL)
When your body isn’t producing enough hydrochloric acid, it can cause serious and chronic constipation.
The importance of hydrochloric acid
Think of hydrochloric acid as the ‘started kit’ to proper digestion.
Your stomach acid is involved in many critical roles, including:
- Digestion of proteins necessary for 50,000 functions in the body, including mood enhancing neurotransmitters.
- Absorption of KEY minerals, including bone building calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, boron, iron, and zinc.
- Ensuring proper B12 absorption, critical for neurological health. B12 is a methyl donor, which is necessary for cardiovascular and brain health.
- Helping to kill unwanted parasites, viruses, and pathogenic bacteria to keep your immune system humming.
- Triggering the rest of the digestive system to work (pancreas, intestines), otherwise the contents of the stomach rots causing fermentation resulting in acid reflux, gas, bloating and stomach pain.
Causes of low hydrochloric acid
- A diet history of too many carbohydrates and sugars and not enough protein and fat
- Aging (it is estimated that those over 40 have half the HCL as those that are 18 yrs)
- Chronic stress
- Low zinc, thiamine, and vitamin C
- H. Pylori i(n excess)
- Antacids – they impair normal HCL production which in time, a chronic lowering of overall production
How to test for low hydrochloric acid at home
There are 3 easy ways to test for low hydrochloric acid production.
These tests are a simple way to see if low HCL are the cause of your constipation
Take both your hands and find your xiphoid process – the bottom of the sternum where it meets the ribs (located in the #3 spot in the above diagram).
Using both hands, slide along the rib cage in both directions while pushing in and up into your ribs.
Is your left side more tender than your right? It occurs when you have low hydrochloric acid production.
Apple Cider Vinegar Test
When you do experience digestive upset after eating, take 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar. Do your symptoms dissappear? It could be a sign of low hydrochloric acid production.
Betain HCL Tablet Test
Just before you finish your meal containing a good amount of protein and fat, pop 1 tablet of betain HCL. If you experience a slight burning sensation in your stomach, you have plenty of hydrochloric acid production. If you have no burning, this could be a sign of not enough HCL production.
How to fix constipation caused by low HCL
- Include 1 tsp of fermented foods to your evening meal or take a good quality probiotic.
- Take a digestive enzyme that contains enough betain HCL
- Take 25 – 30 mg of zinc, 1 cap, 2 X per day of B complex (methylated form), and 1-3 gramx of Vitamin C per day.
- Have 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar in a little water just before meals
- Be calm just before you eat
- Chew, chew, chew your foods
If you suspect low stomach acid as the cause of your constipation, there are many ways to fix it naturally. By working closely with a Nutritional Therapist or Natural Doctor, you can restore balance to your stomach acid and relieve widespread symptoms. You can contact me here
2) Low Bile Flow
Bile is a digestive fluid made by your liver and stored in your gall bladder.
Bile is important for the break down of dietary fats.
When your liver isn’t producing enough bile or it’s too thick to flow freely (peanut butter vs water like), fat can build up in the intestinal wall and slow down the digestive tract causing constipation.
The importance of bile flow
Think of bile flow as the ‘fat emulsifier’.
Proper bile flow is involved in many critical roles, including:
- emulsifies fat (de-greases with a detergent-like action) so the rest of the fat breakdown can happen in your intestines.
- Critical to the absorption of health building vitamins A, D, E, and K
- Sterilizes the gut of unwanted pathogenic invaders
- Helps your body rid excess cholesterol and waste products
Causes of Low Bile Flow
Since bile is made by the liver, a sluggish liver will cause an impairment to proper bile flow.
Signs of sluggish liver include:
- nausea following a meal containing fat.
- bad breath, excessive body odour, bad taste in mouth
- pain on inside of right shoulder blade
- high AST, ALT, and GGT on blood tests
Additionally, because bile is stored in the gallbladder, a sluggish gallbladder will reduce healthy bile flow
- Gall stones
Other causes of low bile flow include:
- old age
How to fix constipation caused by low bile flow
- Squeeze 1 full lemon into your water daily.
- Add 1 to 2 tsp of Celtic or Himalayian salt into your daily water amounts or add to meals
- Make sure to add 1 to 2 Tbsp of healthy, raw oils to each of your meals, daily (olive oil, flax seed oil, pumpkin seed oil, avocado oil), nuts, seeds, olives and avocados are a good choice too.
- Add bitter foods to your daily diet: radicchio, kale, arugula, dandelion leaves, and radish.
- Additional foods to stimulate healthy bile production: beets, garlic, and celery.
If you’ve had your gall bladder removed, it is important to take a good quality digestive aid that contains HCL and ox bile just before you eat.
3) Lack of movement
Sitting for too long can also lead to constipation issues.
Our bodies are meant to move to be healthy.
Physical activity increases muscle activity in your intestines.
Exercise can especially be helpful in the morning for getting the digestive system “fired up,”. Not to mention soothing stress and putting you a positive mindset.
How to fix constipation from lack of movement
Best exercise for best ‘poops’ would have to be something where you jump up and down.
For that reason, I recommend trying rebounding . Jumping on a mini-trampoline stimulates the bowels and lymphatic system, using gravity to get the waste products out and you clean and lean.
Or try kickboxing! Which is what I did this am at 9 Rounds 30 minute kickboxing fitness. They had me jumping up and down doing squat jumps! These explosive movements keep your body strong and healthy. The way we are designed by nature. I always feel better after and ready to take on the day. I recommend you incorporate a form of activity that challenges you. Whatever that may be. You will be glad you did.
Even light exercise can support bowel function. Movements like stretching, walking, jogging, yoga, swimming or dancing. The key is just to get moving!
Make it a goal to fit in more movement and formal exercise most days of the week. If you sit at work, set your timer and get up every hour for about 10 minutes. That can be all you need to ‘get things moving’.
Well, that’s it!
How to fix constipation starts with finding the underlying cause. As with many conditions, just treating the symptoms ignores the real problem. Additionally, waiting to see your Doctor about your constipation can make the treatment options limited to strictly medications.
If you experience constipation for more than a couple weeks, and looking for someone to help find the underlying cause and constipation remedies I am available to help relieve your constipation for good. Simply contact me by clicking here. Contact me
If you have a question and need an answer, Just Ask Michale by going here Askmichale.com
Want your own Personalized Diet plan? I currently have space for one on one consults. To learn more or to get started, simply go to Get one on one help
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