On my walk today I listened to The Paleo Solution podcast episode 113. The first question tackled by Robb and Greg was from a woman concerned that her bowel movements weren’t frequent enough since going paleo. Robb points out that most people find that they have more frequent bowel movements after going paleo but that women seem to ask about infrequent bowel movements more often. He has some good recommendations about how to tackle the issue. I’m going to discuss it from the female point of view and review tips for dealing with the issue.
Why do women seem to have more issues with bowel movements on the paleo diet? I don’t know that we really do. I think women are generally just more focused on details like this. We’re an obsessive bunch and tend to think something is wrong just because something is different. Different isn’t always wrong.
Next is the scale issue. Women weigh themselves a lot more than they admit. I’ve heard from many women who weigh in regularly that they wait to get on the scale until after they’ve gone to the bathroom. If you weigh in every day, you’re going to notice when it’s been a day or two since you’ve pooped. I don’t hear this from men so that may be why more women notice a change in bowel movement frequency.
Getting To the Bottom of It
If the frequency of your bowels movements really has decreased since going paleo, there are a few things to consider. First, you were probably pooping too much before. If you were eating a diet high in grains or eating an excessive amount calories before, chances are you were producing a lot more waste than is really necessary. If you aren’t a weigh and measure kind of gal, you may be eating many fewer calories than you used to pre-paleo. Since you’ve removed grains that were contributing a large amount of calories and are most likely feeling more satisfied from the healthy fats in your diet, you may not be consuming as many calories.
If you are practicing intermittent fasting you will most definitely see a reduction in bowel movements due to the change in calories and the small window in which you are ingesting those calories. I know since starting regular intermittent fasting I don’t go nearly as often as I did when I was simply eating paleo.
Also, any major change in diet, even for the better, can result in a temporary change in bowel movements as your body adjusts. As long as you feel fine and aren’t noticing major bloating, enjoy the extra time you have now that you’re not sitting on the toilet every day.
If you are noticing bloating or are actually feeling constipated, there are some easy remedies that will be beneficial to your body overall, not just your bowels.
Make sure you are well-hydrated. If you are working out or if it’s hot, make sure to increase your water intake to compensate.
Ingest probiotics daily in the form of kimchi, sauerkraut or kombucha. A little bit of these goes a long way towards repairing your gut and keeping things moving along nicely.
Consider a trace mineral supplement. As Robb mentioned, magnesium is important for peristalsis (the muscle contractions that move waste through your system). In The Paleo Diet, Dr. Cordain estimated that humans consumed upwards of 1,500 mg per day of magnesium in the Paleolithic Age. The current recommended intake is 310 mg per day for a woman 19-30 years old and it’s estimated that most people don’t even get that much. So, it can’t hurt to use a magnesium supplement. But, I don’t like to recommend taking stand alone vitamins or minerals since most work best in balance with others. For that reason, I recommend incorporating a trace mineral supplement like ConcenTrace Mineral Drops into your routine. I put a few drops in my water bottle each time I fill it up so kill two birds with one stone. If you do use a trace mineral supplement, start out slow. Too much magnesium right away can really clean you out in a hurry.
Alternatively, you could drink home made bone stock daily to get minerals that leach from the bones and vegetables. Although it’s harder to ensure you are getting enough minerals in this fashion. It’s tasty though and it can’t hurt.
Avoid any accidental gluten exposure. If you’ve been gluten-free for a while, reintroduction of gluten can cause a host of problems. These problems are different for everyone but for some gluten exposure can cause constipation. If you eat at a restaurant or have another meal you don’t prepare, you may ingest gluten without being aware of it. Even if you think you ordered a paleo meal, flour may be used in a sauce or there may be ingredients used that were made with wheat products. If you find that you become constipated after eating at certain restaurants, gluten contamination may be the reason.
Have you noticed any change in your bathroom habits since going paleo? If Oprah can talk about it, so can we. Drop a comment below!