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What can I take to move my bowels? I'm on a low carb high protein diet (not as strict
as Atkins) for a few weeks and have lost quite a bit of weight. However I find myself
getting severely constipated a lot and have to use laxatives (Dulcolax) in order
to get my bowels moving every day. I'd like to know how can I relieve constipation
quickly without ruining my low carb eating plan. Thank you so much! – Tina, Ohio.
Feeling constipated while doing the Atkins diet or any other diet that lowers carbohydrate
intake is a very common occurrence. This is because foods that contain carbs such
as fruits and vegetables, legumes and whole grains, which are also the main source
of dietary fiber, are restricted.
If you take a close look at a sample of Atkins diet plan phase 1(Induction Phase),
you'll notice that it allows the consumption of only 13 grams fiber, assuming you
eat 4 cups of raw lettuce and 2 cups of sauteed spinach daily. For a good digestive
system and to have regular bowel movements, most health experts agree that you need
at least 25 to 30 grams of total fiber (soluble and insoluble) every day.
Without getting into too much in depth about the difference between soluble and insoluble
fiber, you should keep in mind that it is the insoluble fiber that promotes regularity
as it doesn't get digested. When insoluble fiber reaches the large intestines or
colon intact, it draws water to the gut and add bulk to the stool. This will in turn
cause you to have bowel movements more often and help empty your bowels without straining.
Insoluble fiber (or indigestible fiber) can be found in many different foods such
as wheat, wheat bran, corn bran, and flax seeds.
I know it can be really tricky when it comes to increasing fiber intake on low carb
high protein diet. Fortunately there are a few things you can do to help relieve
constipation naturally and won't cause massive damage to your carb counting obsession.
What Helps Relieve Constipation Quickly While on a Low Carb Atkins Diet?
1. Coffee as a Bowel Stimulant
Believe it or not, coffee is a potent home remedy for constipation that can help
provide significant relief from the condition due to its natural laxative effects.
Coffee contains caffeine which stimulates and increases peristalsis in your colon.
Peristalsis is a series of rhythmic contraction of smooth muscle tissues that moves
food and push indigestible waste products through the anus. In other words, coffee
shortens colonic transit time.
So when you drink hot coffee or any other warm caffeinated beverages like tea and
hot chocolate, especially in the morning, it'll make you have a bowel movement fast.
Interestingly, I've a few friends who avoid strong coffee altogether because it stimulates
their bowels too much and cause them to have chronic morning diarrhea.
2. Lemon Water or Apple Cider Vinegar Constipation Remedy
If coffee gives you headache, then use fresh lemon or organic ACV (apple cider vinegar)
mixed in water as a natural constipation remedy to make you go to the toilet.
Squeeze the juice from half a lemon into a glass of lukewarm water. Mix and drink
twice a day, before bedtime and upon waking up on an empty stomach.
Water is a natural lubricant that softens stool and encourage bowel movements. Pure
lemon juice is naturally acidic and works on your digestive system to clear toxins
from your body and get things moving smoothly. Together, these two ingredients make
a powerful remedy to stop constipation.
Alternatively, use apple cider vinegar. It contains significant amounts of pectin,
which is a water soluble fiber that normalizes acid levels in your stomach to improve
Add 2 tablespoons of ACV to a glass of water, stir and drink it down 3 times a day.
Fresh squeezed lemon juice has minimal carbohydrate content while acv contains zero
carbs and calories according to the nutritional label on my bottle of Bragg's Apple
3. Fish Oil for Constipation Relief
You probably have heard about the many amazing health benefits of fish oil – everything
from improving heart and brain health to weight loss, but did you know that fish
oil can help alleviate constipation quickly?
Fish oil helps lubricate colon and induce a bowel movement. In addition, the oil
also forms a layer in the intestinal lining to hold moisture, thereby preventing
small hard-to-pass stools.
Choose a high quality brand such as Nature's Bounty odorless fish oil 1200mg capsules.
Take note that fish oil may cause bloating and gas in some people.
4. Castor Oil Laxative
Castor oil has been used for thousands of years as a natural stimulant laxative to
treat chronic constipation and thoroughly clean out both the small and intestines.
How to and how much castor oil to take for constipation? You can take 1 teaspoon
of castor oil mixed with 1 teaspoon of honey to ease constipation. If you've severe
constipation, I suggest you consume castor oil with ginger tea before going to bed.
Place a few fresh ginger slices in a cup of boiling water, and add 2-4 teaspoons
of castor oil. You may need to adjust your dose to what works for you. Ginger powder
can be used instead of fresh ginger root.
Pure castor oil is pretty strong and highly effective so don't be alarmed if you
don't have another bowel movement for 2-3 days after using this home treatment. Make
sure you're near a bathroom when you use the castor oil laxative cure because it
works fairly quickly, usually within 4-5 hours from ingestion.
You can buy a small bottle of castor oil from your local grocery store at a cheap
price. Don't use castor oil if you're suffering from appendicitis, bloating or abdominal
Aside from castor oil, coconut oil, linseed oil, and olive oil are also natural laxatives
to relieve mild constipation and help you move your bowels frequently. You can take
1 teaspoon of lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of olive oil mixed together every morning,
before anything else is consumed. Alternatively, take 2-4 tablespoons of virgin coconut
oil a few times a day to facilitate regular bowel movements.
5. Abdominal Exercise or Massage to Move Your Bowels
Other than insufficient water and fiber intake, a sedentary lifestyle that lacks
regular exercise can also cause constipation. All exercise, particularly gentle abdominal
exercises that strengthen abdominal muscles, will help constipation considerably.
Try abdominal contraction exercises (abdominal curls), straight leg raises, pelvic
tilts, or breathing exercises to stimulate bowel movement.
How to massage stomach for bowel movement? Lie on your back with your knees slightly
drawn up and relax. Pour a small amount of massage oil (or body lotion) on your hands
and rub them together. I use olive oil as it's cheap and works just as well as any
expensive commercial massage oil.
Using your palms or fingertips, make clockwise motions from right to left around
your navel, spiraling outward. Don't massage over areas that are tender.
Make sure you don't do this stomach massage within 2 hours after a meal or while
your bladder is full. It is also not recommended for people who have high blood pressure
or when you're having your period.