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    Archive for the ‘constipation’ Category

    Say What?: Who Green-lighted This?

    dulcolaxEarlier today, I relaxed on the couch and enjoyed an episode of Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares.

    Don’t you love that show?  Those producers do a marvelous job of mixing humor and repulsiveness.

    During the second commercial break, an advertisement for a product named Dulcolax popped up.

    It was rather vague, claiming that while water is helpful for constipation, it sometimes “doesn’t get where it needs to”, which is why Dulcolax is a better choice.

    Utterly confused — and with red flags in mind — I Googled the product (which, I’m sure, is exactly what its makers want).

    Here are some “are you kidding me?” snippets from the website:

    • “Water alone may not be enough [to treat constipation] because you can’t be sure that the water you drink will go directly to the colon.”
    • “Dulcolax works with the water.”
    • “Dulcolax makes water work harder to help restore balance gently.”

    Looks like someone completely tossed basic human physiology out the window!

    For whatever reason, both the television advertisement and the product’s webpage leave out a vital piece of information — Dulcolax simply contains a popular laxative known as polyethylene glycol 3350.

    It’s not that Dulcolax contains some secret magic spell that makes water work harder; it’s nothing more than a laxative in powder form that you add to liquids!

    The notion that water is not enough to help with constipation is silly; one of the most effective ways to treat that condition is to consume more fiber and water.

    Truth is, the vast majority of individuals with constipation do not need laxatives.  All they require is additional fiber in their diet, which is not a difficult task:

    • Apple (medium, with skin): 3.5 grams
    • Almonds (23 pieces): 3.4 grams
    • Avocado (medium, one half): 6.5 grams
    • Banana (medium): 3 grams
    • Barley (1/2 cup, cooked): 3 grams
    • Black beans (1/2 cup): 7 grams
    • Broccoli (1/2 cup, cooked): 3 grams
    • Chickpeas (1/2 cup): 5 grams
    • Ground flaxseed (2 tablespoons): 4 grams
    • Lentils (1/2 cup): 8 grams
    • Medjool dates (2 pieces): 3 grams
    • Nutritional yeast (2 tablespoons): 4 grams
    • Oatmeal (1 cup, cooked): 4 grams
    • Potato (medium, with skin): 4 grams
    • Raspberries (1/2 cup): 4 grams
    • Sunflower seeds (1/4 cup): 3 grams
    • Sweet potato (medium, with skin): 4 grams
    • Tempeh (4 ounces/half package of Lightlife brand): 8 grams
    • Whole wheat pasta (1 cup, cooked): 4 grams
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    You “Ask”, I Answer: Modified Corn Starch/Constipation

    My dietitian at the gym said that modified corn starch is not good because it is a strong “binding” agent and can cause constipation.

    Cheerios [have] modified corn starch as [the second] ingredient.

    [The dietitian said this] has an impact on toddlers- many of [whom] eat a lot of cheerios cereal.

    And, a lot have constipation problems.

    — Anonymous
    Via the blog

    Although there are several factors that can cause constipation, a significant one is a lack of insoluble fiber in the diet.

    Cheerios — and any oat-based product, for that matter — largely contain soluble fiber.

    Remember, soluble fiber is the one that helps lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol AND achieve a longer-lasting feeling of satiety. Insoluble fiber, meanwhile, helps keep things moving through the digestive tract.

    The lack of insoluble fiber (NOT the presence of modified corn starch) is why Cheerios can exacerbate (notice I am not using the word “cause”) constipation.

    I want to stress that foods do not cause constipation in and of themselves. Rather, it is a lack of insoluble fiber in the overall diet that does.

    That said, I prefer people get soluble fiber in their whole food form, as opposed to isolated starches (especially since the tacked-on modified corn starch is likely genetically modified). Plenty of foods offer generous amounts of soluble fiber: oats, barley, brussels sprouts, oranges, broccoli, and black beans come to mind.

     

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    You Ask, I Answer: Regularity/Constipation

    Sorry if this is a strange question, but how many times a day should we “sit down in the bathroom”?

    Is once a day “enough”?

    (Name withheld)
    San Antonio, TX

    Ideal excretion of food shouldn’t solely be measured by the number of times it occurs each day or week.

    As with anything else, there is a range of “normal” bowel movement frequency – usually from three times a day to once every other day.

    Going an entire day without a bowel movement is not necessarily constipation, nor should it be cause for concern.

    This is the kind of topic that needs to be analyzed in the appropriate context.

    Two bowel movements a day might sound like good intestinal health, but if they involve straining, or dry and hard stools, it is a sign that something is not working properly.

    What steps should you take if bowel movements are difficult or painful for you?

    Generally, the first course of action is to increase insoluble fiber — the kind found entirely in whole wheat products and partially in legumes, vegetables, and the skins of fruits — and fluid intake (preferrably water).

    It is no surprise that constipation is, for the most part, directly related to low fiber consumption.

    Another recommendation that often times gets overlooked is exercise.

    Physical activity stimulates peristalsis, the muscular contraction that keeps contents moving in waves through the digestive system.

    Physical activity is also key because, as a result of making us produce sweat, usually results in higher water intake.

    Talk about killing two birds with one stone!

    It is worth pointing out that not all causes of constipation are diet-related.

    There are often psychological causes as well (i.e.: stress, being in a bathroom other than the one we are accustomed to using, etc).

    Some medications – including tranquilizers, antidepressants, and hypertension calcium blockers — can also cause constipation, so do not be alarmed if your regularity is compromised when consuming them.

    I’m actually glad you asked this question because this is a topic many people feel uncomfortable discussing.

    However, it’s important to talk about it openly since there are a lot of concerns, myths, and health issues surrounding it.

    As a result, too many people erroneously — and dangerously! — self-medicate with laxatives, thinking one bowel movement a day isn’t enough, causing lots of harm to their digestive tracts.

    Hopefully engaging in discourse about it can get the right information out there. After all, as the classic children’s book states – everyone poops!

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