In Part 1 of Troubleshooting Your Digestive Issues, I covered some signs and symptoms (diarrhea, constipation, bloating, gas, etc.), potential causes of disrupted digestion, and why it’s important to address these issues right away – most notably, to calm systemic inflammation.
In Part 2, I detailed a top down approach to Improving digestion function. Following those recommendations alone will take your far along the path to healthy digestion.
Now, in Part 3, I'll provide some addition tips that are specific for easing both constipation and diarrhea.
Specific recommendations for constipation-
- All the recommendation from Troubleshooting Your Digestive Issues Part 2 – Improving digestion function plus…
- Fat intake – are you consuming enough? Bile, as addressed in Part 2 of this series, helps remove toxins from your body via elimination through the intestines. You need enough to keep things moving! Try adding a little more in each meal to see if it makes a difference.
- Don’t hold it! Listen to your body. When the urge to poop comes, find a bathroom-waiting too long can cause water, including toxins and hormones that were meant to be eliminated, to be reabsorbed back into your body, as well as causing dry, hard stools.
- Movement – walking and yoga can help get things moving!
- Epsom salt baths – 2 cups in water for 20 minutes (water should be hot enough that it is still enjoyable and doesn’t burn your skin). Rinse in the shower and end with a shot of cold water. This is a natural detoxification trick and will increase blood flow.
- Magnesium – Natural Calm magnesium powder mixed with warm water before bed (start with ½ tsp. and increase each night to 2 tsp. or until you have lose bowls in the morning). Note: you may not want to take this if you are taking an Epsom salt bath too, or you may need to experiment (maybe reduce the amount used in both your bath and in your magnesium drink).
- Address your iron and calcium supplementation with a practitioner (if you are taking either or both-they can cause constipation). Typically, the top down approach addressing stomach acid will go a long way in helping you absorb both calcium and iron. Most people get enough dietary calcium, they are often missing the co-factors needed to absorb it. Please read my post on non-dairy forms of calcium as well as Liz Wolfe’s calcium without dairy post.
- Fiber – this one is tricky, lack of fiber does not typically cause constipation but sometimes fiber can either help or hinder elimination. Often times, too much fiber can be more menacing than helpful. While trying to heal, stick with easy to digest and well cooked vegetables such as peeled zucchini, other summer and winter squashes, and even fermented veggies rather than big raw salads or stir fry mixes.
- Elimination position – to get things moving more efficiently, and thoroughly, get a stool to elevate your legs so that you are in a more squatting position- straightening your colon (see this article on How to Poop Better by Paul Chek). You can use a stool you already have or try this popular one that hugs your toilet when not in use demonstrate here by Sean Croxton of Underground Wellness Poopn’ 2.2: The Squatty Potty
- Thyroid support – add iodine-rich foods such as nori seaweed paper, kelp, dulse, or other seafood if you are not sensitive to them. You can season food with kelp granules and make yummy nori paper roll-ups with coconut oil and almond butter. Seek out a holistic practitioner that can help you with more specific recommendations and support.
Specific recommendations for diarrhea – a sign that your body wants whatever you put into it-out fast! It’s important to do some detective work to determine why:
- Improving digestion function from Troubleshooting Your Digestive Issues Part 2 plus…
- The top down approach (as detailed in Part 2 of this series) is important to ensure sufficient HCL is killing potential pathogens and your food is being properly broken down and the nutrients assimilated.
- Fat – Perhaps you need to adjust your fat intake (less) until a potentially sluggish gallbladder can keep up. You may need to start coconut oil slowly and build up, as it is a natural anti-microbial and may trigger a temporary die-off reaction.
- Take a serious looks at potential food triggers as addressed Part 2. Some common triggers are too many nuts, too much fiber, too much sugar, and too much fruit. Another common problem is accidental exposure to gluten and dairy. Artificial sweeteners are often a culprit too.
- Be sure to stay well hydrated and most definitely make sure you consume bone broth daily with unrefined sea salt daily.
- Address magnesium and/or Vitamin C supplements (too much can cause diarrhea)
Disrupted digestion can be frustrating and tricky to deal with. Everyone is a little different so individual tweaking and patience is required. Some adjustment is normal at the beginning of a new diet, however, don’t wait until things get out of control before you find a holistic practitioner who can help you get back on track, especially if you think you are dealing with a thyroid conditions, leaky gut, dysbiosis, candida, SIBO or IBS. Also, don’t forget, there is much more information in Practical Paleo!
Parts in this Series:
Part 3: Specific Recommendations for Constipation & Diarrhea
I've addressed various digestive issues, troubleshooting ideas, and possible solutions at-length in many podcast episodes:
- Podcast Episode #8: With guest Chris Kresser on digestion
#1 Digestive function – normal and abnormal, signs and symptoms
#3 Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
#4 Gut pathogens
#5 Maintaining healthy gut flora
#6 The best nutritional approaches for gut healing
- Podcast Episode #37: Low-Carb Cruise, Nutrition Ed., FODMAPs, Carbs & Satiety?
#2 Digestive issues: FODMAP intolerance? Solutions? [37:31] #3 Digestion 4 months into Paleo: Symptoms & Solutions? Stress & gut function [47:52]
- Podcast Episode #38: All About Poop
#1 : From backed up to too loose. [4:09] #2: Child with excessively loose stools daily. [16:12] #3: Messy eliminations. [29:15] #4: HCl supplements, mucus and hard stool. [38:18] #5: Trouble going and a stressful life [44:06]
- Podcast Episode #43: Low residue diet, weight gain, cooking methods
#1. IBS/Crohns & a low-residue diet [8:51] #5. Food sensitivities [50:06]
- Podcast Episode #54: Top 10 Questions we get – “protein overload,” gall bladder removal, agave, Cod Liver Oil and more!
#6. I don’t have a gallbladder, do I need to do something differently? [35:59]
- Podcast Episode #56: Gall Bladder, tongue toxicity, gastric bypass, hula hoops & hormones
#1: How to balance fat and protein with no gallbladder. [8:53]
- Podcast Episode #57: Hormones, multivitamins, post-op & special diets (oh my!)
#6. FODMAPS, SCD and GAPS, oh my! [50:29]
- Podcast Episode #58: News, PCOS, sleep, sugar & calories
#5. Probiotic foods options [54:08]
- Podcast Episode #59: BIG news, weight loss time, non-paleo family, cold care & more!
#5. Symptoms of gluten exposure [37:21]
- Podcast Episode #63: Dizziness, adrenal fatigue, Tourette Syndrome, HCG Diet
#5. Gut healing [47:20]
- Podcast Episode #68: Back to Basics – gut healing, leanness, calcium & Paleo
#1. What is leaky gut and how do you heal from it? [11:05]
- Podcast Episode #72: Sarah of ThePaleoMom.com talks Autoimmune & Paleo!
#5. Have SIBO,SCD and Autoimmune, still scared to go starch free, help! [50:50]
- Podcast Episode #73: Blood type diet, candida, CrossFit, light therapy
#3. Foods on an anti-Candida diet [23:39]
- Podcast Episode #74: Cankles, birth control, constipation & copper
#4 Hereditary constipation [31:30] #7. Prebiotics & FODMAP concerns [48:30]
- Podcast Episode #83: All about digestion: bloating, constipation, IBS & more
#1. Multiple Digestive issues
#2. Shy Bowel Syndrome
#3. Bloated all the time
#4. Child with too much stomach acid?
#5. Chronic IBS
- Podcast Episode #91: All things digestion
#1. A link between menstrual periods and constipation?
#2. Chronic Constipation
#3. Stressing about not going often enough
#4. Stomach pains and bathroom use even though I haven’t eaten all day!
#5. Multiple issues – digestion related?
#6. No regular BM’s ever!