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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.


what helps relieve constipation fast while on atkins diet

Hi Tina,

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 poor digestion.

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 Cider Vinegar.




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 pain.

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.





By Diane Hanson


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