Thursday, 2 June 2016 | Editor
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Constipation - a curse of modern Living - what to do about it.
By our nutritionist
Many years ago we heard the story of a young mother who was concerned that her toddler had swallowed a button from a cardigan. The Doctor said, "Don't worry, you'll probably see it come out in about a week."
A WEEK? Boy, that Doctor must have been constipated!
Constipation is a curse of our modern way of living. In rural Africa and Asia, where people eat high levels of fibre through vegetables, grains, beans and lentils, constipation related diseases such as appendicitis and colon cancer are rare. With our Western diets and lifestyles, wastes stay in our bowels too long, allowing more time and opportunity for these toxins to be reabsorbed, causing all manner of problems.
Once we have gained the benefit of the food we have eaten, its leftover waste should leave our bodies about 18-20 hours later. I routinely ask my nutrition patients to do the 'transit time test', which simply involves eating something which will show itself in the stool upon exit (e.g. a large portion of beetroot, spinach, or some sweetcorn) - anything they haven't eaten in the last four days or so. We often have to wait longer than we'd like for the final evidence (and sometimes the evidence vanishes completely!). 36-48 hours transit time is common - 72 hours not uncommon.
This was the case with the mother of Olga. I went to visit the family in Slavinia, in what was then still known as Yugoslavia. 'Mother' was always in the kitchen, preparing for us lots of scrumptious and healthy dishes. My favourite was her home-made chicken soup with dumplings. Only hours earlier, the chickens had provided us with eggs for breakfast before being chased around the garden to give themselves up for the chicken and dumpling soup.
'Mother' rarely ate her own food - I thought that perhaps having to chase the chickens around the garden put her off. Instead, she 'survived' on lots of black coffee and numerous home-made doughnuts. She said the coffee helped her with her terrible headaches! And she felt so bloated all the time, that she couldn't face the delicious food she so lovingly prepared for the rest of the family. (She managed to put away a fair few doughnuts though, in spite of her obvious discomfort.)
That Mother suffered from unbelievable constipation - a weekly evacuation would have been heaven by the sound of it. This in spite of laxatives.
Mother wasn't immediately impressed with the suggestion that she gradually reduce the vast amounts of coffee and drink water instead, and neither was it easy to persuade her to cut out the doughnuts and instead eat her own delicious food. However, she followed the advice, and when her headaches disappeared and she had no further troubles in the bowel department, she felt it was all worthwhile.
To get an idea of how it must be in our bowels if wastes stay there too long, you only have to imagine leaving some fish, pork and cooked vegetables out in a very warm kitchen. After a couple of days the smell will be quite unpleasant, the food will have begun to putrefy and bacteria will have gotten a hold, whilst moulds will be showing on the vegetables. If this isn't making you feel ill yet, have a look at the section on Colon Cleansing.
Here are some ways to make things work more smoothly:
Other useful tips include:
There, now that should give you enough ideas to encourage your bowel to behave as it should. If the worst comes to the worst, you can always try a last resort - a whole tin of sauerkraut, juice and all. Hopefully you will have wonderfully regular bowels just by eating a normal healthy diet - after all, if Olga's Mother in Slavinia can do it, so can you.