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The Paleo Diet for Constipation

author image Jason Boehm
Jason Boehm has been writing about food and nutrition since 2000. He has written for publications like "New York Spirit" and "The Brooklyn Paper." Boehm is a Board Certified Nutrition Specialist with a Master of Science in human nutrition from the University of Bridgeport and a Master of Mass Communication from the University of Georgia.
The Paleo Diet for Constipation
Barbecuing steak and veggies. Photo Credit: Design Pics/Tomas del Amo/Design Pics/Getty Images

You can get enough fiber and long-term constipation relief by adopting a paleo diet, with its abundance of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and even meat. Most people have experienced constipation’s uncomfortable symptoms, including infrequent bowel movements, strained and painful bowel movements when they do occur and stomach cramping.

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A Paleo Diet Eliminates Constipation-Causing Foods

The modern diet, including dairy and processed foods, contributes to constipation. The paleo diet eliminates these culprits, as well as wheat products like bread and cereals, which usually contain paltry amounts of fiber. On a paleo diet, you eat the whole, unprocessed, fiber-rich foods nature intended. You'll likely find constipation becomes a thing of the past.

Fiber-rich Fruits and Vegetables

A paleo diet includes copious amounts of nutrient- and fiber-rich fruits and vegetables to relieve constipation. According to Dr. Jonny Bowden, author of "Living Low Carb," people used to receive about 60g of fiber daily. Now most people get less than 10g. Fruits and vegetables, along with other paleo foods, offer two types of fiber. Soluble fiber binds water and softens stool. Insoluble fiber increases stool bulk and frequency. You need both kinds to effectively combat constipation.

Let’s say within a day’s paleo-based menu, you include 2 cups of spinach, 1 cup of broccoli, 1 cup cauliflower, 1 cup of blueberries and 1 cup of raspberries. Altogether you’ll get 29g of constipation-relieving fiber.

Meat Can Also Reduce Constipation

Fiber isn’t the only silver bullet to get things moving again. Paleo meats like bison and grass-fed beef, which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, also help improve constipation. A study in the "European Journal of Clinical Nutrition" showed that a higher-fat diet, compared to lower-fat diets, speeds up gastrointestinal transit time. Food waste passes quickly rather than lingering in your gut. That's because your gallbladder releases bile to break down fat. Adequate bile secretion triggers peristalsis, or digestive-muscle contractions, to speed digestion.

Nuts and Seeds: A Healthy Fat/Fiber Combo

To round out your constipation-relieving paleo diet, incorporate beneficial fat- and fiber-rich nuts and seeds. A quarter cup of raw walnuts, for example, provides nearly 10g of omega-3 fatty acids. Combine that with 1/4 cup of almonds, and you’ll get 6g of fiber.

Water and Constipation

Your body contains about 60 percent water. Dehydration means your colon absorbs water from food waste, creating hard, strain-inducing stools. Water is an underrated ally to relieve constipation. The Institute of Medicine’s Dietary Reference Intakes recommend that healthy women consume about 91 oz. and healthy men about a gallon, of water daily. Strenuous physical activity and numerous other factors can increase or decrease those recommendations.

Constipation is Multifactorial

Many factors, including stress, lack of exercise and even depression can contribute to constipation. While for many people a modified diet with exercise can reduce or eliminate the problem, visit your doctor if you experience frequent constipation for more than a few weeks.

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