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Constipation on Keto: How to Avoid and Treat

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  • Constipation on Keto: How to Avoid and Treat

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    When you first embark on the Keto diet, there are certain side effects that you will have to face in the starting days or better known as transition period. Your body completely makes the switch from burning carbohydrate-rich foods to burning fats for energy.

    Fruits, vegetables, and other carbohydrate-rich foods are rich in fiber and due to this high fiber content, these foods are either poorly digested or not at all digested. But when you start the keto diet, you will be consuming food that is low in fiber.

    All the proteins and fats that you consume are completely digestible. This means that after digestion they are completely absorbed by the body and leave very little or no residue at all. And this leads to a decrease in the quantity of the fecal matter that you produce.




    Click on the image to see Video: Keto and Constipation: 3 things to know




    Functional Food Items are Digested with Minimum or No Residue


    When we evolved, our intestines and excretory organs evolved to be affected by the food that we consume. If our diet is rich in fiber and carbohydrates, then the stool or residue that we produce is more in volume and is easy to discharge.

    But, on the other hand, if the food we consume is devoid of fiber and includes mostly soluble components, then constipation comes into our lives.

    During situations of the intestinal tract functioning perfectly, the time taken from food consumption to passing stool is somewhere between 12-24 hours. But when you are suffering from constipation, it might take 3 to 4 days for the stool to pass. This is a lot of time and people complain of suffering from irritability, gas attacks, bad breath, gynecological pain, and nausea.

    Ever noticed how a child, despite feeding on just breast milk that has no fiber or other insoluble components, passes soft stool at least once during the day without the help of any abdominal muscle in squeezing out the stool? Well, that should be the case with you too.



    Click on the image to see Video: Keto and Constipation: 10 Tips for Going with Ease


    What actually is the issue with fiber? Doctors and dieticians recommend a fiber-rich diet but what is the reason behind it? Does fiber have the power to reduce constipation? The answer is yes. But the act of constantly squeezing out stool causes a lot of harm along with the presence of too much fiber in food.

    Cellulose is an insoluble fiber that can cause the release of certain gastric enzymes and juices. The reason being that the intestine finds it hard to tolerate undigested food. If there is constant digestion in the intestines, it might lead to a loss of important minerals, acidity, and dehydration.

    In addition to everything above, insoluble fiber creates an ideal situation for pathogenic bacteria to thrive in the gut. Whenever bacteria exist, there is bound to be putrefaction and fermentations.

    Whenever fermentation starts, you start feeling nausea and acidity. In the long run, it might even lead to polyps, malignant tumors, and ulcers. Here are a few things to encourage you to reduce fiber from your diet.
    1. Do not be afraid to cut fiber during consumption of food even though people are hysterical about the good benefits that fiber has.
    2. Always remember that fiber-rich food is bad for the internal organs. Once that is imbibed in your mind, it might be easy for you to let go of fiber-rich food.
    3. You should learn to have self-control. If not, then limiting and sticking to a particular diet will not be easy.
    4. Do not be afraid to go against the recommendations of your doctors. If you do not agree with something they say, do let them know. Sometimes they incorporate the patient's demands as well. Just do not follow them blindly.





    Click on the image to see Video: Diarrhea & Constipation on Keto - EVERYTHING you've ever wanted to know explained by Dr. Boz



    If you want to know the correct consistency, smell, and color of the stool that you should produce, have a look at the stool of baby feeding on mother’s milk. If you experience a stool with similar consistency, then that implies you are very good at digesting food.

    This means that all of your food is absorbed with minimum or no by-products and there exists a plethora of symbiotic microflora inside. Of course, once you start getting older, the act of passing stool gets harder.

    There are two most important segments of constipation. They are dysbacteriosis and intestinal atonia.




    Intestinal Atonia


    The fecal mass that we produce passes throughout the intestines because of three factors:
    • Pressure created by the newly arriving fecal matter
    • Contraction of the muscles located within intestinal walls
    • Gravity of the Earth

    The involuntary contraction of the muscles of the intestine is known as Peristalsis. The autonomous nervous system exerts influence on the muscles to act unconsciously and involuntarily, leading to easy passage of fecal matter. It is not in our power to exert control over the actions of the autonomous nervous system.

    Gastroenterologists from America have uncovered a very “wise” resolution to the above problem when we consider fiber-rich food. They have discovered a way by which we can control the involuntary muscles of the intestines and hence decide when whether we want to pass stool or not.

    According to them, there are certain exercises that are necessary for us to make those muscles strong, especially after pregnancy. After pregnancy, the abdominal muscles get weak and lax, so there are exercises that can help to reverse that outcome.

    But this idea sounds stupid. Why would you want to do that, right? Babies and young kids also have weak abdominal muscles, but do they suffer from constipation? No, right. But people who have strong peritoneal muscles suffer from a lot of constipation issues.

    Now, where did the idea of strengthening peritoneal muscles begin? It began from the very simple act of pushing while trying to pass stool. We strain the muscles a lot to stimulate the act of defecation. This is the first symptom that you will find of constipation - too much pressure to pass stool. Straining the peritoneum muscles too much is the primary cause of hemorrhoids. So it doesn’t have an advantage if you see it.

    Hemorrhoids are a common occurrence after pregnancy. The woman offers extreme strain on the abdominal muscles to give birth. This strain leads to hemorrhoids in many women. There are some women who give birth right where they are standing.

    They thank the uterus muscles rather than the peritoneum for such a painless birth. But are we to know for sure which muscles to appreciate in those circumstances?

    To understand the smooth and involuntary muscles better, let’s take a peek into the medical encyclopedia. As per the encyclopedia, involuntary muscles are formed by the smooth and non-defined tissues of muscles.

    These muscles form the shells of organs that are hollow, lymphatic vessels, and blood walls. They consist of a structural element known as myocyte that is composed of myofibrils or thin fibers.

    The smoothness of these tissues leads to peristalsis of the hollowed organs, lymphatic vessels, and blood walls. Now, these myofibrils are made up of a protein called myosin. When different myosins present in the muscles interact with each other, the myofibrils become short in length.

    This particular act from a larger perspective leads to the contraction of tissues in the muscle. Another protein called myoglobin brings in oxygen to the muscles and releases it during the contraction of the muscles.

    As you can see, it is the proteins and the oxygen that is responsible for the strengthening of the abdominal muscles. These strong muscles can belong to the uterus, intestines, or blood vessels, and they are all connected.

    If you are in a keto diet, then you are in luck. The reason is that when you are in keto, you are already taking in the required proteins that your body might need. Other than that, you can just do some fast walking exercises coupled with some breathing exercises. This will help you to improve the functionality of your lungs as well, not just constipation.




    Dysbacteriosis


    The fecal matter of a person in good health consists of at most 10% digested consumed food and the remaining matter belongs to bile and blood, symbiotic bacteria, unclaimed fats, dead cells, and water.

    There cannot be a situation where the bacteria completely vanishes from the stool. In that case, the scenario would be similar to a car without oil.

    Now, if in case such a scenario occurs, it is known as dysbacteriosis. Dysbacteriosis is the condition in which the intestines lack the required symbiotic bacteria for processing the waste produced. Now how is this condition identified?

    Well, the old school method is to examine the stool of the concerned person and analyze it for the content of symbiotic bacteria. Another method is through interrogating the patient but that is not so much reliable.

    The primary symptoms of the condition dysbacteriosis include gas, bloating, diarrhea, indigestion, vaginal yeast infections, chronic fatigue, low immunity, chronic respiratory problems, and deficiency of B and K vitamins that leads to clotting of blood and absorption of minerals by bones.

    As per the observations of MME, this disease is an indication of the alterations in the composition of a species and the relations that the species has with the normal microflora coupled with the development and growth of unusual microbes. This happens under the authority of microorganisms that are competing in nature, nutritional changes, and antibiotics.

    Even though about 90% of the population in the world suffers from dysbacteriosis, it is not regarded as one of the “recognized” disorders by the medical authority. Acute-infants who are feeding on milk from formula and elderly persons are the biggest sufferers of this disease.

    But even the doctors are unaware of this disease. They just prescribe medicines for some other conditions even though the patient is suffering from dysbacteriosis.

    When almost all the population endures from a particular disease, it can no longer be considered as a disease. It should be considered as a condition. This should be the point of view of the epidemiologists.

    And since this condition is no longer considered a disease, it is also not being treated properly. This acts as a beneficial step for the producers of fiber-rich foods. People will keep on buying this stuff because there is no awareness of the same.

    And the manufacturers of fiber-rich food items just camouflage the disadvantages of their product with nice looking packaging and 1-2 advantages. People go on to buy them considering they are good for their health. So, everybody from the manufacturer to the sellers benefits, other than the customers.

    The first step that you should take for a perfect immune system and a healthy intestine is to take precautions to eradicate dysbacteriosis. You should work toward maintaining the good bacteria present in your intestines. You should try to maintain their microbes in their primal and optimal state.

    There are certain protections provided by the phagocytes, a type of cell. They tend to absorb bacteria and viruses to protect the body. Our blood cells have this ability along with various other organs.

    And do you know who signals these phagocytes? Well, the microbes in your intestines. This is the reason they need to be left alone to do their job. They are protecting your entire body.



    What to do if you are facing constipation?


    Now, what do you do if you are a frequent victim of constipation? Well, here are certain foods that you can try to soften your stool.
    • 1. Castor Oil and/or Mineral Oil: Castor oil has been used as a laxative for thousands of years in Europe and Russia. It works wonders for constipation. But keep in mind that it has a weird smell. In the United States, instead of castor oil, people use ordinary refined mineral oil. A few servings of the same and you get relief from constipation. It can be found in almost all the pharmacies and supermarkets in the United States.
    • 2. Milk of Magnesia: This has been used in the United States for as long as 125+ years. Milk of Magnesia contains magnesium hydroxide or burnt magnesia, around 400 mg per teaspoon of Milk of Magnesia, that has the power to attract a high level of water. Because of this, it has the ability to soften the stool and thus help during constipation. Once you purchase it, make sure you take a look at the label to understand the amount you need to use. This product will help you to break through the worst cases of constipation and emerge victorious!
    • 3. Colonics therapy or Enema: Enema is a procedure that is performed by an expert. In this procedure, the intestine of the patient is cleaned and the stool that is stuck at the mouth of the anus is completely eroded. But sometimes, stool clots are located in the circulatory and ascending intestines. Under such circumstances, even enema cannot clean it.


    Certain Practical Tips

    1. Firstly, try to exclude products containing gluten in your diet. Not eating gluten facilitates the intestine’s activities and decreases its swelling. This will improve fecal consistency.

    2. Try to drink up fermented milk stuff at least two times a day. Make sure to not include any sugars. Although the packaging of the yogurt says that there exists some amount of carbohydrates, you don't need to worry as that is the number of carbohydrates in the milk before turning into yogurt. Now the majority of the components of milk have been eaten away by bacteria.

    3. Exclude veggies from your diet that are rich in fiber. Replace them with vegetables like eggplants, zucchini, and peppers.

    4. Exclude veggies from your diet that are rich in insoluble fiber. Remove the skins of tomatoes and cucumbers before consuming them.




    Specific Situations
    • If you have never experienced constipation but as soon as you started the keto diet, you are visiting the bathroom every 2-3 days and your stool has become light, soft, and uniform without any difficulties. If that is the case, then you are okay. There is nothing to worry about. If you feel any discomfort while passing the stool, then just increase the intake of fermented food items.
    • If you have never experienced constipation but as soon as you started the keto diet, you are visiting the bathroom every 2-3 days and your stool has become hard and resembles small droppings of goats. In this case, you should know that it’s not normal. Such stool indicates that you are dehydrated and demineralized and may also be suffering from dysbacteriosis.
    • If you have never experienced constipation but as soon as you started the keto diet, you are visiting the bathroom every 2-3 days and your stool volume has decreased dramatically without any urges. In this case, you should know that it’s not normal. This might denote that your nerve receptors might have gone atrophied. In such scenarios, follow the steps mentioned above. Insert glycerine candles after you wake up in the morning. Drinking water while standing creates intestinal peristalsis. These steps lead to an increased urge.
    • If you have always been a victim of constipation and fiber-rich food has always been your diet and you abruptly changed to a ketogenic diet, you might sometimes not feel the need to visit the toilet for many days. Under such conditions, it is advisable that abrupt changes should be avoided. Try to make a slow transition by replacing one such food item everyday.
    • Finally, the most problematic situation is when the constipation problem continues for numerous days after the transition. Some people go back to their usual fiber-rich diet when something like this happens. But that is recommended to be avoided. Taking such actions might cause numerous problems such as hernia, diverticulitis, obstruction, intestinal perforation, etc.


    Conclusion

    In recent times, the normal diet of a person includes mostly carbohydrate-rich foods that are either not easily digested or completely not digested. Such foods include processed food, fruits, vegetables, cereals, and legumes. The carbohydrates are broken down into fructose, glucose, and galactose while the dietary fibers remain undigested. Is that beneficial for our health?

    The human intestine has not evolved to break down indigestible foods. As a result, people today are suffering from numerous diseases. Problems such as stomach ulcers, gastritis, and heartburn were not known to our ancestors.

    Now since we are eating indigestible foods, our stomach is producing more digestive juices that are acidic in nature. As a result, the walls of the stomach are getting corroded and people are suffering from ulcers and other disorders.

    Another problem with the newly evolved world is a hernia. Hernia involves bowel protrusion under the skin, into internal cavities and pockets, or between muscles. The small intestine is designed for the flow of liquid residue that is produced from the digested food.

    This liquid residue is known as chymus. Undigested food is very hard to move through the intestines. Sometimes this travel through the intestine is so hard that the bowel goes into unwanted places. This is the cause of hernia. Fiber-rich food coupled with the sedentary lifestyle of people today is the largest contributor to this.

    And last, but not the least, is constipation. As we have seen above, constipation has become a very common problem nowadays. The problems tend to increase with age. Greater the age, the bigger the problem of constipation.

    Keto diet is one such diet that can actually help you to keep track of constipation when you have grown old. As for gender, women tend to suffer more from constipation due to a number of reasons such as pregnancies, psychological factors, medications, etc. Even men suffer from constipation but they have a stronger tendency to ignore it.

    All of these problems occur due to fiber-rich food. It is easier to remove fiber from your plates rather than training your intestinal muscles to get stronger and absorb fragments of the indigestible food as well. So take steps to improve your diet.

    Now that we know so much about the workings of the intestine and the ways to reduce constipation, we have gained some knowledge of gastroenterologists. Now at least you can enable the smooth entry of yourself into the keto diet. Just take the little precautions mentioned above.

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