How Can We Prevent Constipation on the Ketogenic Diet?
By creating a hospitable environment in the gut for your host microbiota by eliminating toxicity. Microbiota toxins are antibiotics, alcohol, anti-inflammatory drugs, excess sugar, and artificial sweeteners. To prevent Keto Constipation you must also introduce the correct ratio of vitamins, minerals, water, prebiotics, probiotics, and fiber.
Improving digestion is dependent on healthy intestinal microbiota.
I get this question quite often and I have even experienced the constipation problem myself when I started on the Ketogenic Diet. The first thing we have to understand is that our bodies are different now, we fuel it differently and we don't put as much junk into it. So we just aren't creating as much waste as before and probably won't have as frequent of bowel movements as what we are used to.
There are some things that you can eat that will get things moving in your colon a little faster, however. Basically, there are three external things we can consume to make our entire digestive system more efficient. Soluble and insoluble fiber, prebiotic fiber and probiotic bacteria. Fiber helps to provide bulk and the probiotic beneficial bacteria feed on the prebiotic fiber which together helps digest the food we eat. When you sit down and come up with your Keto Diet Grocery list make sure to include plenty of green leafy vegetables and asparagus.
It's a lot more complicated than that and scientist are still discovering new ways the stomach, through its gut bacteria, signal the body and mind. Healthy gut bacteria has positively been linked to a strong immune system. When an infant is born he/she does not have a built up immune system and hasn't developed the proper gut bacteria. That's one of the reason breastfeeding is so beneficial, the mother passes beneficial bacteria to the infant through her breast milk, which strengthens the infants' immune system. Beneficial bacteria can even inhibit harmful bacteria.
How To Prevent Keto Constipation (Video)
So how does all that keep us from being constipated?
The best way to jump-start and maintain our beneficial gut bacteria is through the consumption of milk kefir. I drink it on an almost daily basis and it's one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. I recommend using organic, grass-fed, whole milk to grow the culture. They call the culture "grains" and you can get them from a friend or buy them off Amazon. I am going to write a complete article on making Kefir soon so check back.
The (culture) grains consume most of the lactose and make it Keto friendly. After about 24 hours of fermentation, the milk turns into a tart, creamy delicious drink, kind of like liquid yogurt. Each batch varies, but Kefir has about 6-8 grams of carbohydrates, 6-8 grams of protein and 12-15 grams of fat. Calcium, Vitamin D, K2, B complex vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, bioactive compounds, digestive enzymes, organic acids, and peptides. The organic acids are similar to what makes apple cider vinegar so healthy.
How to Make Milk Kefir (Video)
But the star of the show is the symbiotic culture of bacteria or better known as probiotics. Kefir has 61 different strains of bacteria, far more than any other fermented dairy product. As a comparison yogurt has between 4 and 6 different strains of bacteria. It also contains a probiotic called Lactobacillus kefir, which is only found in kefir. This unique probiotic has been shown to inhibit bacteria including salmonella, Helicobacter and E. coli. Kefir is regarded as one of the most healthy foods on the planet.
The cure for constipation on the Ketogenic Diet is Prebiotics: Inulin and oligofructose to the rescue!
Inulin is an oligosaccharide and a noncaloric carbohydrate that is found in a variety of other carbohydrates called fructans. The beneficial bacteria need some food to eat while it's in your stomach. That's where prebiotics like inulin comes in. Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that feed the microbiota of the large intestine. Both inulin and oligofructose have been shown to be the most powerful prebiotics. Oligofructose and inulin, from chicory root, have been shown to stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria. Not only will inulin help keep you regular by ensuring your stomach bacteria remain healthy, but this study shows that inulin/oligofructose and the subsequent fermentation process reduces the risks for colon cancer.
Here is another amazing study that shows that inulin reduces inflammatory markers and improves insulin resistance in type 2 diabetics.
Here is another promising study that shows inulin improves lipid metabolism, can reduce triglycerides and lower very low-density lipoprotein (bad cholesterol).
Here is an example of supplemental inulin you can get on Amazon.
The best foods with Inulin and oligofructose are asparagus, chicory root, garlic, onions, leeks, Jerusalem artichoke, and dandelion greens. Most green leafy vegetables have some combination of Inulin and Oligofructose (prebiotics) in them.
Here is a list of some Keto approved foods and their percent of inulin* and oligofructose** content:
1. Chicory root: 41.6* and 22.9**
2. Jerusalem artichoke: 18* and 13.5**
3. Garlic (raw): 12.5* and 5*
4. Asparagus (cooked): 2.5* and 2.5**
5. Dandelion greens (cooked): 9.1* and 7.3**
6. Onions (raw): 4.3* and 4.3**
7. Leeks (raw): 6.5* and 5.2**
*Source: Presence of Inulin and Oligofructose in the Diets of Americans.
Apple and orange pectin (oligosaccharides) are derived from the peels of apples and oranges. Their fiber cannot be absorbed by the body, therefore, are calorie free. Also, pectin seems to protect probiotics from gastric acids and pancreatic juices.
Additionally, prebiotic pectins protect and feed your intestinal microbiota and have antioxidant and anticancer abilities. How ironic, the most healthy part of the fruit is in the skin.
Add probiotics to your diet to heal the gut and improve Keto Digestion
|Fermented Probiotic Kimchi|
If you have never tried beet Kvass you are really missing out. It's easy to make yourself at home. Here are instructions on how to make beet Kvass. If you let the beets ferment long enough the culture eats most of the sugar, similar to milk Kefir and the lactose consumption. Kombucha also has probiotics, but it's usually too high in sugar to be Keto approved.
And then there is fiber:
Magnesium Citrate helps with Keto Constipation.
Magnesium citrate is very effective against constipation because it's the most bioavailable form of magnesium. This study found on PubMed, compared the bioavailability of three common magnesium preparations (amino-acid chelate, citrate, and oxide). After 60 days the citrate group showed the greatest (P = 0.027) mean salivary magnesium concentration.
Not to give all the publicity to magnesium citrate, but electrolytes in general help with regularity. Sodium (salt), potassium and chloride also play a role. So don't be afraid of adding extra salt to your food and eat vegetables for your electrolytes. Supplementing your diet with magnesium citrate might be helpful.
So there you have it, be patient and eventually, you'll get used to your new bowel movement routine, but feeding your gut properly with fiber, prebiotics and probiotics will give you multiple benefits even more important than regularity.
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