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Managing Digestive Health on a Carnivore Diet : Your Guide to Preventing Constipation

  1. Introduction

    1. What is a Carnivore Diet?

      Carnivore diet is a highly restrictive dietary approach that emphasizes on consumption of animal-based foods while excluding most of the plant-based foods. This means the diet is high in protein and fat and low in carbohydrates. This type of diet can sometimes lead to constipation. This diet is contrary to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which emphasizes on importance of fiber for good health.(10) Proponents of the carnivore diet claim various health benefits including weight loss, improved mental clarity, reduced inflammation, and relief from digestive issues. However, scientific evidence supporting these claims is limited.(11)

      Due to a lack of long-term research on the diet’s safety and efficacy, health experts often express concerns about potential deficiencies in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. The carnivore diet is not widely endorsed by nutritionists due to its lack of variety and potential nutritional deficiencies.

    2. Importance of Managing Digestive Health on Carnivore Diet

      As a carnivore diet poses unique challenges to the digestive system, therefore, managing digestive health is crucial for several reasons: 

      • Constipation is a common issue of carnivore diet. With proper management, this condition can be prevented.
      • A healthy digestive system is needed for efficient nutrient absorption.
      • Lack of fiber and plant foods can disrupt the gut microbiome, potentially leading to digestive discomfort and long-term health issues.
      • Some people may experience digestive distress such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea on transitioning to a carnivore diet. Proper management can help minimize these issues.
      • Focussing on meat intake may lead to a lack of water intake, exacerbating digestive problems.

      Digestive issues can impact mood, energy levels, and quality of life. Neglecting them can lead to discomfort and potentially deter individuals from adhering to the diet.

      Digestive responses to carnivore diet may vary in individuals. Managing digestive health allows customization and adjustment based on personal needs.

    3. Importance of focusing on Combating Constipation When on a Carnivore Diet

      Combating constipation is a significant concern for individuals on a carnivore diet as there is low fiber intake and a limited variety of foods. Addressing constipation is essential to maintain digestive comfort and overall well-being. The symptoms and treatment for constipation may vary in individuals. It may take trial and error to find the most effective strategy. The key is to prioritize digestive health to ensure a comfortable and sustainable dietary experience.

  2. Constipation on a Carnivore Diet

    Constipation can be a common issue in people following a carnivore diet. This is mainly due to strict restrictions on plant-based foods and low-fiber diets.

    The various reasons, why constipation occurs when on a carnivore diet are as follows: 

    • Low Fiber Intake: The carnivore diet is extremely low in dietary fiber as it eliminates all plant foods. Research shows an association between a lower fiber intake and a higher risk of constipation.(1) Fiber is essential for promoting regular bowel movements by adding bulk to the stool and facilitating its passage through the digestive tract. However, research also shows health benefits and high satisfaction rates, with fewer adverse effects in people following a carnivore diet.(2)
    • Glycogen Breakdown: Eating a low carbohydrate diet, requires the body to break down glycogen stored in muscles and liver. Glycogen attaches to water and is then expelled via urine.(3) This may lead to dehydration and lack of water for forming stool
    • Dehydration: Some people on a carnivore diet consume less fluids. This may lead to dehydration. Inadequate hydration may lead to hard stool.
    • Imbalanced Macronutrients: A carnivore diet mainly consists of animal-based proteins and fats, and lacks certain nutrients that promote healthy digestion. A balanced diet including carbohydrates can help regulate bowel movements.
    • Gut Microbiome Changes: A reduced intake of fiber and plant-based foods impacts the gut microbiome. A person’s gut needs to adapt to the new way of eating a carnivore diet, which is high in fat. The bacterial population that makes up the microbiome needs to change in response to the change in diet. While following a carnivore diet, carbohydrate-loving bacteria may die out while fat-loving bacteria may increase in number.(4) A less diverse microbiome leads to digestive issues including constipation.
    • Individual Variability: The digestive system of each individual is different. Some individuals may be more prone to constipation than others, even on a carnivore diet.
  3. Symptoms of Constipation

    According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, constipation is described as:(10)

    • Having a bowel movement less than three times in one week
    • Passing hard, dry, and large stool
    • Difficulty in passing stool

    Other symptoms of constipation include stomach pain, bloating, and nausea.

  4. Effective Strategies to Combat Constipation in Carnivore Diet

    Combatting constipation effectively involves adopting strategies that promote regular bowel movements and alleviate discomfort.

    Some of the strategies include: 

    • Hydration: Adequate hydration is crucial for softening of stool and maintaining regular bowel movements. It is therefore important to drink plenty of water throughout the day. The aim should be at least 8-10 glasses per day.
    • Electrolyte Balance: It is important to consume sodium and potassium to maintain the electrolyte balance.(5) These electrolytes are essential for muscle function including those in the digestive system.
    • Monitor Fiber Intake: The carnivore diet intentionally limits fiber intake. Some animal-based foods such as organ meat and connective tissues containing small amounts of fiber can be consumed. Organ meat including liver and kidney meat is nutrient-dense and also contains soluble fiber.(6) Consuming them can make up for the reduced fiber intake in a carnivore diet.
    • Bone Broth: Bone broth provides collagen and gelatin.(7) These support gut health and can alleviate constipation. Bone broth should be taken regularly.
    • Probiotics: Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that promote gut health and benefit the digestive system. Consuming food rich in probiotics like yogurt or kefir can help regulate bowel movements.(8) Probiotic supplements can also be taken.
    • Regular Meals: Eating regular meals and avoiding skipping breakfast can help the digestive system to function properly.
    • Physical Activity: Exercise stimulates intestinal contractions and can help prevent constipation. One should aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week.
    • Limit Processed Foods: Highly processed foods are high in refined sugar. These can contribute to constipation. Reducing the intake of processed snacks can help alleviate constipation.
    • Magnesium Supplements: Magnesium supplements have laxative effects and may relieve constipation.(9) It is important to consult a healthcare provider before starting any supplement.
    • Stool Softeners: Over-the-counter stool softeners can be helpful for short-term relief from constipation. It is important to follow the recommended dosage and instructions and consult a healthcare provider in case of any concerns.
    • Laxatives: These are the last resort and should be consumed only under the guidance of a healthcare professional. These are habit-forming and may lead to dependency if used regularly.

    If someone is new to the carnivore diet, the transition should be gradual. This helps the digestive system adapt to the change. If constipation persists, becomes chronic, or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms such as piles, small tears around the anus, or fecal impaction, a healthcare professional’s advice should be taken.

  5. Conclusion

    Managing constipation while following a carnivore diet is important to maintain digestive comfort and overall well-being.

    The carnivore diet is low in fiber, which makes constipation a common issue for people on this dietary approach. However, implementing effective strategies makes it possible to address constipation and promote regular bowel movement.

    Also, it should be known that constipation varies from person to person and the response to the carnivore diet may differ. Therefore, patience and persistence in finding the most suitable strategies are crucial. It is important to prioritize digestive health to ensure a more comfortable and sustainable experience on the carnivore diet. This can contribute to overall well-being.

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:September 13, 2023

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