Constipation help

2 June 2016  |  Editor

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Constipation - a curse of modern Living - what to do about it.

Go and buy health supplements to help constipation

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: 

  • Sit on the toilet for 5 minutes straight after breakfast and aim to get your body accustomed to a bowel movement early every morning (twice a day is even better). Sit on the loo with your knees higher than your hips. This can be achieved by resting your feet on a couple of telephone books.
  • Stress can cause constipation. Avoid eating under stress. Practice a few deep breathing exercises first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Join a yoga or relaxation class.
  • Lack of exercise may contribute to constipation. All abdominal exercises are helpful, particularly on a slanted board as they counteract the negative effect that gravity may have on proper bowel functioning. Mini-trampolining, or 'rebounding' is also particularly helpful.
  • Diet is by far the most relevant factor in constipation, which is mainly due to a lack of water, watery foods and fibres, and an excess of refined, sugary foods and meat.
  • Eat mainly pure unprocessed foods such as whole grains, nuts, pulses. Have plenty of vegetables, and fresh fruits, every day.
  • Drink plenty of pure water between meals (finish at least 1 ½ litres bottle per day).
  • Avoid excessive amounts of meat.
  • Keep away from spicy food and dehydrating beverages such as coffee, tea, alcohol and coke. 

Other useful tips include:

  • Soak a tablespoon of linseeds (Linuset Gold is very good) overnight in a large glass of water. Take this first thing in the morning. Both the water and the seeds must be consumed. This is not a laxative, but can work like magic!
  • If you can't face the soaked linseeds (lots of my clients manage very well, but personally I gag on it), then sprinkle a tablespoon of linseeds into your porridge, after cooking, or muesli, salads or cooked rice dishes. You may also just eat it 'straight off the spoon' and follow with two glasses of water. Linseeds attract to themselves lots of water, so don't allow yourself to become dehydrated.
  • A tablespoon of black strap molasses last thing at night. Now clean your teeth, otherwise your nightmares of waking up with no teeth may come true.
  • Two to three tablespoons of olive oil taken on an empty stomach first thing in the morning, followed by the juice of half a lemon.
  • Mix together a third of a pound each of raisins, dates and prunes. Add and mix with 8 tablespoons of whey (unless you're milk allergic), 8 tablespoons of black strap molasses and 6 tablespoons of ground linseeds. Before each meal take one the size of a golf ball. To get some whey, make some delicious home-made cottage cheese from sheep milk, which will take only 3 minutes to make and this will give you whey as a 'waste product'. Look under recipes.
  • Stewed fruits, especially prunes, are always a good idea when there's constipation.
  • Stay away from laxatives. There's only one time I give my patients laxatives, and that's a fairly gentle laxative tea the night before a colon cleansing (seven-day tissue cleanse). During this cleanse they eat no solid food at all, but have lots of special drinks, blue-green algae and two enemas a day. The mild laxative just clears the bowel of recent waste matter along with the first enema. This cleanse requires supervision, but these are the only times I've ever recommended a laxative.
  • Skin brush with a natural bristle brush. Have a look under colon cleansing for full details.
  • Take a good quality probiotic supplement. You'll find this in the shopping basket.
  • Vitamin C can be used to loosen the bowel. You need to take a fairly large amount all in one go - 4000 to 8000 milligrams (4-8 grams) will usually do the trick. You can buy it in powder form or capsule form.

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.