by Alane Palmer, ND, CNC and Annah Gillette
Any shift in an eating pattern needs to address one of the most common issues people have when transitioning into a low carb, keto diet, which is new digestive issues. There can be some funky things starting to occur with your gastrointestinal tract at the beginning of any new diet routine. The beginning stage is a time to adjust to your new way of eating. It is not the ketones or healthy foods that may be causing GI issues, it is your gut. Your gut needs time to adapt and heal. This can take varying lengths of time depending on the person.
Usually, with a dramatic increase in fat and reduction in carbs, some people may experience a period of loose bowels which is normal. Your gut microbiome is adjusting to the decrease in readily available glucose, and there is a certain amount of “die off” of these bacteria that is occurring. One of the pathogens dying off may be candida. This can create a bit of a smelly, loose stool for some people, so you don’t freak out if it happens to you. All in all not to worry- if it persists beyond a few weeks then talk to your nutritional practitioner or doctor, there may be something else at play (allergies, food intolerance’s, parasites and other fun stuff….).
These symptoms may last just a couple of days. For others, this period is longer, and it can be a little trickier.
If you are experiencing diarrhea, you could try the following:
1. DRINK MORE WATER
Many people don’t realize that when you start a low carb, keto diet that your body is flushing water much more rapidly than you have before. When this happens, it’s extremely easy to be dehydrated. Make sure you are drinking enough water to stay hydrated. You will notice that you will go to the bathroom a lot more frequently, but this is also an adjustment period. After a week or so, your body will be used to the increase in water intake and will level off.
2. CONSUME MORE ELECTROLYTES
When water is flushed from the body, electrolytes are also excreted through the urine. If the electrolytes aren’t replaced, you could very easily become dehydrated and develop diarrhea, among other things. Some good ways to replenish these electrolytes is to eat avocado, consume salty bone broth daily and if that isn’t cutting it, try using HIMALAYAN PINK SALT with your food (this can replace your regular table salt). Drinking bone broth will also contain collagen which could help bulk up stools and aid in the gut-healing process. There are a few good electrolyte replacement supplements that are unsweetened you can try.
3. ADD PROBIOTICS AND FERMENTED FOODS
Probiotics are excellent for bulking up stool and for supporting your immune system. While it’s ideal to get probiotics from food, there aren’t too many options available for low carb, keto diets because of sugar contents. Try some raw sauerkraut or a small amount of pickled carrots. If food seems to be too complicated, try a high-quality probiotic supplement which should be sold in the refrigerated section of the store and contain at least 50 billion live cells per capsule and contain a variety of strains of bacteria.
4. ADDING MORE FIBER
Since low carb, keto diets are very high in fat; some people forget to make room for vegetables. You should try and include a reasonable amount of veggies, twice daily minimum. Broccoli, cauliflower, and avocado are superb for bulking stool.
5. USE DIGESTIVE ENZYMES
This step could be the make or break moment with a low carb, keto diet, especially if you have a hard time digesting fats or proteins. Some try and up their fat and are inevitably left with weeks of projectile, yellow diarrhea (a sign of fat malabsorption). This is especially true if you’ve had your gallbladder removed. If it’s clear you are not digesting fat, try a digestive enzyme supplement. For fat specifically, you want to make sure you find one that has Ox Bile in the ingredient list.
Is a ketogenic diet right for YOU? If you are overweight and have nervous system distress you may want to give it a good try. Our office has a holistic nutritionist plus a health coach that can sit down with you and discuss your concerns. We can also run comprehensive bloodwork to make sure your metabolism is working the way it should be.
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Medical disclaimer: Nutritionally Yours is not a medical clinic. Testing cannot be used to diagnose, treat or cure any disease. All test results are to be used as educational materials and as a guide to help support your overall health and wellness. Always discuss health concerns with your medical doctor. We have a nutritionist, naturopath and a medical doctor on staff to help you feel your best.