How to end constipation on the GAPS Diet
Constipation is one of the most common issues I see in my clients, in addition to their main health concerns. The recommendations below, for how to end constipation on the GAPS Diet, are what I share with these clients.
You will see that I have broken the options down into categories. I have listed the simplest first (food), and then proceeded from there. One can work through the options to see what works best for their body’s needs.
NOTE: The ideas below are not meant to be taken as medical advice. Please consult with your own primary care provider about what foods and supplements are best for you.
Constipation Food Supports
HIGH-FAT DAIRY: Add/increase high-fat dairy such as sour cream, butter & ghee, while reducing high-protein dairy like yogurt and kefir.
LEMON WATER WITH FAT: Drink warm lemon water with ghee or coconut oil first thing in the a.m. + a pinch of sea salt. Make sure you are drinking 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water throughout the day.
BEET KVASS: Beet kvass is a potent stimulator of the liver/gallbladder, which in turn facilitates peristalsis of the colon and helps to digest fats which are essential for good digestion.
FULL GAPS 1ST: Starting with the Full GAPS Diet rather than the Introduction Diet is useful in the case of constipation, as there are higher amounts of fiber in the Full GAPS Diet.
MORE VEGGIES: If you are on the Introduction Diet and struggling with constipation, increase your amount of cooked vegetables in proportion to meats, especially cooked beetroot.
GELATINOUS MEATS: Reduce muscle meats (high-protein) and replace them with gelatinous meats instead: meats around joints, bones, skin of the poultry, bone marrow, tongue and feet of the animal. Puree soft tissues (skin, connective tissue, etc.) into a pate’, add salt, and add to soups and stocks.
GAPS MILKSHAKES: If following the Introduction Diet and struggling with constipation, I recommend introducing freshly pressed juices earlier. If raw eggs and sour cream have been introduced, you can begin drinking the GAPS Milkshake every morning, which is excellent for constipation.
ANIMAL FATS: Consume about 4 tablespoons of added fat with each meal, including animal fats like lard, tallow, and ghee.
OLIVE OIL: If following the Introduction Diet and struggling with constipation, I recommend introducing olive oil earlier. Liberally drizzle olive oil on your meals.
Constipation Supplement Supports
COD LIVER OIL: Increase the amount of cod liver oil you consume (I recommend Rosita Extra Virgin Cod liver oil). The normal dose is 1 tsp for older children and adults, and 1/2 tsp for younger children and babies. Double or even triple your dose for a while to help constipation.
PROBIOTICS: The two main probiotics I think about in cases of constipation are Bio-Kult and Prescript-Assist (*non-pea protein version). A therapeutic dose of Bio-Kult is about 20 billion CFU’s for an adult and a therapeutic dose of Prescript-Assist is about 4 capsules per day for an adult. The important thing to do with probiotics is to start out with a really tiny dose and increase slowly as your body dictates.
NORTH-TO-SOUTH DIGESTION #1: It is critical to work on digestion from a north-to-south perspective. This starts in the brain (see below) but next is to support proper stomach acid expression. Please see my guide to self-testing your dose of Betaine HCl.
NORTH-TO-SOUTH DIGESTION #2: Next, after checking in on your stomach acid expression, I recommend two options for supporting the liver and gallbladder part of digestion. These are 1. Biotics Beta TCP or 2. Allergy Research Ox Bile. Some folks find that a bottle of the ox bile is helpful and then they move to the Beta TCP.
SPIRULINA, BLUE-GREEN ALGAE, CHLORELLA OR DUNALIELLA: High-quality supplements of these can be very useful in resolving constipation, particularly for children. Best introduced after the Introduction Diet is complete but can be used as a last resort. Spirulina is also helpful for sleep.
MAGNESIUM: Supplement with amino acid chelates of magnesium as a daily supplement. Some good options are Vital Nutrients Magnesium Glycinate or Biotics Mg-Zyme. As a laxative, you can use magnesium oxide occasionally or magnesium citrate for short term use. Alternatively, Mag O7 has been shown to be effective where other magnesium has not. Typically magnesium is increased to bowel tolerance.
Constipation Brain Support
PARASYMPATHETIC BLEND EO’s: This wonderful blend of essential oils is made by Vibrant Blue Oils. The Parasympathetic Blend helps the brain go into the parasympathetic “rest and digest” mode of the autonomic nervous system, which is important for digestion.
Constipation Brain Exercises
DR. DATIS KHARRAZIAN EXERCISES: The following exercises support digestion from the brain → down.
While you are working on your brain “firing” digestion, you’ll also need to eat a therapeutic diet & take digestive supplements to help aid digestion until your brain & digestion get back on track. Neurons have to connect (fire) into each other in the brain so that your brain connects (fires) to the vagus nerve, then your vagus nerve fires into your gut nervous system, and that stimulates the gut migrating motor complexes (the muscle neurons that cause your intestines to contract & move) to work. All of this stimulates parasympathetic function (our rest & digest mode) which sends blood flow to the gut, releases digestive enzymes, & stimulates motility.
- GARGLE: Take water into the back of your throat & go “AHHHHG” with intensity, multiple times a day. It should be strong enough that you begin to tear up in your eyes. This fires the pallet muscles, which fire the vagus
nerve. This may be hard at first, especially if there is brain degeneration. Start with a small amount of water & work up in intensity, until you are able to do several minutes & the superior salivary nucleus is causing your eyes to tear up.
INITIATE YOUR GAG REFLEX: Several times a day – purchase a box of tongue blades and induce your gag reflex by pushing down on the back of your tongue until you have tears coming from your eyes.
Constipation Topical Applications & Enemas
CASTOR OIL RUB: This remedy helps stimulate peristalsis and circulation, particularly with children. At night apply a handful of castor oil on the abdomen and massage it well with gentle clockwise movements (moving along the natural peristalsis of the bowel from the right hip up, across the belly and down to the left hip). Cover the abdomen with a tea towel, put a hot water bottle on it, and go to sleep. The oil absorbs through the skin overnight and helps to loosen the stool (even compacted stool) for release in the morning. Castor oil packs done like this are also extremely useful alongside daily enemas for loosening up old, compacted stool that causes pain and inflammation after bowel movements. Do daily until pain & discomfort are resolved.
As an occasional remedy, castor oil can be taken internally to provide constipation relief.
OTHER OILS: Apart from castor oil other cold-pressed oils may be used: olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, hemp oil, or a mixture of oils.
ENEMAS: Enemas are a subject of their own. In GAPS, enemas are used if there is constipation for more than 2 days, and they are also used as a detoxification remedy. There are many different types of enemas. For the purposes of constipation, start with a simple saltwater enema. Optionally, follow with one of the options below.
COFFEE ENEMA: The caffeine in coffee enemas stimulates the vagus nerve & the gastrointestinal nicotinic cholinergic receptors, causing the gut to move. Holding it in as long as possible fires the frontopontine vagal enteric axis & builds your endurance, helping you to regain your gut-brain axis.
RED BEET ENEMA: Peel 500 grams of fresh organic raw beet, finely grate, and put into a suitable bowl or a pan with a lid. Pour in 1 liter of boiling-hot water and mix with the beet. Cover and leave for 20-40 minutes at room temperature. After that filter, the beet solution and cool down to body temperature; using the liquid as an enema.
Constipation Vitamin C Flush
VITAMIN C FLUSH: This can be useful as both a constipation remedy and a cleanse.
INSTRUCTIONS: There is more than one way to do the flush but in general the method is to start with 1,500mg of buffered Vitamin C and take 1,500mg every 15 minutes until watery diarrhea is attained.
BUFFERED VITAMIN C SOURCES: