I don’t like talking about it since it makes me wonder whether I’m starting down that inevitable decline towards the day when all I want to talk about is having a “good bowel movement.”
But the C word–constipation–has come up several times here when people go wheatless. “Won’t I lack fiber?” many ask. For example, in response to the Wheat Belly Blog post, The Wheat-free “Movement,” Janne posted this comment:
I am very happy on a no-wheat regimen but I wish I knew what I should do to add enough fiber to my diet. I am not quite on the verge of constipation. When I ate lots of whole grains (I haven’t touched refined grains in years), I would have easy daily bowel movements. I am still going daily but it’s not as ‘easy.’ I eat lots of vegetables, and sometimes a little brown rice. What am I doing wrong?
Granted: Wheat products are a convenient source of indigestible fiber. But the idea that you must have whole grains from wheat to obtain sufficient fiber is pure fiction. There are plenty of other foods that are rich in fiber.
Here are some ways to regulate regularity:
1) Add more raw nuts and seeds, more nut meals, including the recipes in the Wheat Belly book and here in this blog. It means that even treats like chocolate almond biscotti are rich in fiber.
2) More non-wheat fibers low in carbohydrates, especially flaxseed and chia. These are easy to sprinkle on foods, mix in with your wheat-free baked dishes, mix in with wheat-free granola. They do not have any effect on blood sugar.
3) A magnesium supplement–Magnesium provides an osmotic effect that increases stool moisture content. This is why many laxatives contain magnesium, like Milk of Magnesia (magnesium hydroxide). The majority of people are deficient in magnesium anyway, since modern water purification removes virtually all magnesium. The form of magnesium to choose depends on what you are trying to achieve. Strictly for purposes of regularity, magnesium citrate, 400 mg twice per day, will provide a modest boost. Those of you desiring better absorption of magnesium and less bowel softening, look for magnesium malate, 1200 mg twice per day.
4) A probiotic to help your poor wheat-damaged intestine to recover. While we need more data on these effects, wheat consumption changes the bacterial composition of your intestinal tract. Taking a probiotic for a few weeks can provide organisms like lactobacillus and bifidobacterium that help regain normal bacterial populations.
5) Hydrate–A helpful habit is to drink two 8 ounce glasses of water immediately upon awakening when you are substantially dehydrated. Do the same several more times per day and be sure that, whenever you urinate, urine is only lightly yellow, almost clear, never dark and concentrated.
So going wheat-free does not mean a lifetime of pushing and straining, then calling your surgeon to clip the hemorrhoids. For some, it can even mean reversal of incapacitating constipation to new-found regularity. It means intestinal health that is improved because it now avoids the most destructive of diet ingredients, wheat.