Here’s a question I get asked on occasion: Why am I constipated after drinking green smoothies?
Constipation can be a surprising side effect of increasing the amount of fiber in the diet for some people. Usually, this is a result of a sudden increase of fiber coupled with dehydration.
Let’s say that your usual fiber intake is around 12-15 grams per day, which is too low and the average most Americans get according to experts. Then you suddenly hit your body with green smoothies and whole foods and your fiber intake jumps to 45 grams (or more). On top of that, you have not increased your water intake. All of that soluble fiber in fruits and vegetables is now absorbing moisture in your intestines and slowly trudging through your bowels.
If you are not used to basing your diet around fresh fruits and vegetables, then increase your water consumption and slowly increase your fiber intake over a week or two. Avoid taking fiber supplements if you are getting adequate fiber in the diet through green smoothies and fresh fruits and vegetables. Reduce your consumption of dried or powdered foods (including superfoods).
I also recommend keeping fat intake low in the diet. The majority of my calories come from carbohydrates, but my fat intake rarely, if ever, exceeds 15-20% of total calories. Eating too much fat with fruit, or adding too much avocado, coconuts, nut butter or oily seeds to green smoothies might exacerbate constipation, while causing gas and bloating.
If constipation continues to be a problem, or if it is a common problem for you no matter what diet you are on, then consult a qualified health practitioner who can help rule out any health issues.
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Tracy Russell is the creator of RESET 28: A 28-Day Program For Energy, Weight Loss & A Healthy Glow, and founder of Incredible Smoothies. She has been helping people take control of their health and well being with green smoothies, a whole foods diet, and fitness since 2009.