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Constipation Salvation

So... you tried the N.I.H. advice? No Dice? Well, who says the docs are always right?
If you are a senior citizen (or a junior citizen) with a weak/delicate digestive system,
then this may help you. Read on, and may those rocks dissolve to kingdom-come! *

* Note: This site is not intended for diabetics, hypoglycemics, or those on special diets

At your wits end? Try chocolate chip cookies, chocolate cake, sweet hot-cocoa... no kidding!


Often, doctors and nutritionists stress: Fiber! Liquids! (or recommend stool softeners and laxatives such as Metamucil, psyllium, bran). But... fiber and liquid is not enough to avoid constipation in some people! Nutritionists don't stress enough the elements of:

SWEET AND HEAT... & OILY-LUBRICANT

  • Centuries ago, Maimonides prescribed honey and hot water for the elderly who have weak digestive systems

  • Some pediatricians prescribe sugar water for babies' constipation.

If the below helps you, then you're welcome to pass this on to any other sufferer...

First, I'll list the magic stuff which helps my constipation (in brief)
Then, I'll list stuff which aggravates my constipation (in brief)
Then, I'll go into more details.

What helps my constipation?

With nutritious meals, I include "magic" elements from this list:
  1. magic Sweetness (sugar, syrup, sweet 'n seasoned salad, apple-juice, spearmint-tea
  2. magic Lubricants/liquids (oil, mayo, dressing, gel, sour-cream, water) - added to sweetened meals
  3. magic Fiber - Sweetened (especially chocolate chip cookies, choco-chip granola, brownies... oh yeah, wanna have your wheaties or salad? Go ahead...
  4. magic Heat (warmed or room-temp. meals & drinks)

What causes me constipation?

  1. Bland/dense/dry stuff (nuts, crackers, bread, toast, chicken, non-creamy-form of calcium) unless from above magic is added
  2. stuff containing chalky-feeling elements (nuts, tea) unless from above magic is added
  3. Cold water if I'm cold, & especially if it's at end of heavy meal
  4. Stuff causing gas-pockets (seltzer, chewing gum).
  5. Stress and nervousness

Rule of Thumb: Try avoiding too much stress, chewing gum, soda, nuts & dry/chalky/bland/dense foods


I SAY:
YES to adding oil/gel/mayo/cream to lubricate meals
YES to eating ripe apple/pear (binder) at end of meals
YES to eating a chocolate dessert, such as choco-covered mints, choco-mousse etc.
YES to drinking sweet drinks, tea, or spearmint-tea with cake/cookies
NO to drinking acidic drinks with cake/cookies, or eating too-vinegary pasta
NO to drinking ice-water at end of heavy meals (yes warm drinks / sweet drinks)
SO-SO to nuts & plastic-textured skins (see above)



Some Related Tips & Some "Not-So-Related" Trivia

MINERAL OIL MINISTRATION

For babies' constipation: If yucky gook remains stuck inside there, smear a finger liberally with mineral oil, and stick the finger far enough inside to spur the stuff to eject.

HEARTBURN / HIATUS HERNIA HELP

I have heartburn (officially called GERD - gastro esophagul reflux, often caused by hiatus hernia) which causes burny acid to back up my gullet when I'm lying down. Here's a tip I once read which never fails to help:
When lying in bed, instead of facing to the left, I turn over and lie facing toward the RIGHT.

Strong foods such as too much vinegar, vinegary starch (pasta/potato salads), paprika, raw garlic, raw onions, peppermint candy, peppermint tea can cause me acid reflux and even allergies.
Note: Spearmint tea, after-dinner mints, and mint creme's are more mild and therefore good for me. Also, mildly vinegary, onion-free veggie salads are O.K.

SOME INTERESTING REFERENCES:   TASTE BUDS    FIVE SENSES (U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT)

MNEMONIC ACRONYM TO HELP DIARRHEA:
BRRATT diet: Banana/Rice/Ripe-Apple/Tea/Toast

MNEMONIC ACRONYM TO HELP INJURIES:
RICE: Rest/Ice/Compression/Elevation



Some more personal trivia...
For years, I've been following the rules. Y'know the spiel: "By all means avoid too much sugar, stick to leafy greens, protein, fruit, ad nauseum..." Yet with all that, I suffered IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and constipation. And I STILL DO to some extent, possibly because of calcium-phosphate depositions related to my fibromyalgia. However, I have found that this is the best format which helps me avoid constipation: And that's *** (besides avoiding carbonated drinks, or chewing-gum which create gas pockets), *** I make sure to eat sweet stuff, not discounting choco-chip or fudge cookies, sweet-crunchy breakfast cereal, or the like *** I also make sure to eat meals which are not dry, rather moistened. For example, I always make instant potatoes with MORE rather than less water, and I always make sure to add a lubricant to it such as oil or marg. AND ABOVE ALL, sufficient sugar to give it some sweetness. *** I never take seeded-cukes or watermelon on an empty stomach ('twould create air-bubbles just as soda & gum does). *** I make sure to mix cukes with sour-cream/cottage, etc. *** (I also use sour-cream/cottage to buffer acidic fruit such as oranges.) *** I try avoiding acidic citrus drinks, and if I do take citrus-drinks it's only diluted & only w/protein meals such as chicken, tuna, eggs or cheese (see author Richard Israel, who i.m.o. makes the most sense). *** I also try avoiding apple on an empty stomach, because it can have an abrasive effect on my stomach lining. For that very reason, an apple is good at the END of a meal, because it sort of acts like scouring powder, and binds together the meal. *** I try avoiding cold water at end of meal, rather sticking to warm-drinks, or room-temp. *** IF EATING CAKE, the drink should be sweet or bitter-sweet, but not acidic. HOWEVER, IF EATING PROTEIN, the drink can be mildly sour, or sweet 'n sour. But ice-water at end of large, sedentary meal is bad news. *** I'd also try avoiding NUTS & PLASTIC-TEXTURED SKINS. For example, whenever I eat pepper or tomato, I try to peel them as best as I can (despite the difficulty in peeling them). I also peel cukes, apples & plums. As for peaches & grapes? What the heck, I don't bother peeling those. NUTS are the worst offenders i.m.o. UNLESS they're baked inside oatmeal cookies, etc. or else eaten together with salad and sweetened-dressing. Even Babe Ruth or peanut brittle is better than plain, chalky peanuts, since the sugar in the former aids digestion. I think it's the dry, calcium-texture of nuts that causes them to dry the stools.




Footnote... here's a post I saw from someone else that somewhat jives with mine. (Just so you read more than one opinion)

Re: Some ideas for how to break the vicious cycle of constipation
by rdhart (WebMD), 10/28/99 07:56:54

Hi everyone. I don't usually reply, I'm a reader! But I just couldn't pass this one by.

First, I have a son, 16, one on the way,& have been a daycare worker for many years. So, while I'm not a doctor, I have a lot of experience & have seen what works & what doesn't.

To get to the constipation topic, something that nobody has mentioned is that if you are going to use bran in a child's diet, or even an adults, to alleviate constipation, it won't do a bit of good unless the child drinks AT LEAST 6, eight ounce GLASSES of water a day. (NOT 8 ounces of water a day, as someone suggested!) This doen't include juices or milk. Bran can actually CAUSE constipation without the proper amount of water in the diet. Bran works by absorbing moisture in the intestines & adding that moisture to the bulk (poop). Mineral oil is not the only oil that can be used to lubricate the intestines. Have you ever tried to get a mouthful down? YUK!!! Why not try using other types oil more liberally in the diet of the child?

Most health conscious adults unknowingly cause constipation in their children because they have eliminated most of the fats in their diet. While this is neccessary for most adults, children need a certain amount of fat in their diet. Their little bodies are NOT the same as an adults.

If there is a problem with a dairy intolerence, which by the way is the most common cause of childhood chronic constipation, don't use butter or margarine. Use more healthy oils, like canola or extra virgin olive oil. Use them in place of butter to scramble an egg or saute those veggies.

Dairy products should be suspect first thing if your child has chronic constipation. Remove ALL dairy, (cow's milk), products from the diet for AT LEAST ONE MONTH. It can take this long for the body to adjust & for the child to learn to stop "holding it in" due to pain. Another area over looked, is that not all sweets are harmful to a child. In fact, sweets can aid in eliminating constipation. Use "natural" sugars every day. Applesauce, even the sweetened kind, will not harm a child, in moderation. Afterall, in infants, one of the "cures" for constipation is a few ounces of "sugar water" in the bottle.

Above all, avoid the following foods that are prescribed for loose bowel movements: BANANAS SPINACH RICE & TOAST to name a few.

[INTERRUPTION BY ME: I disagree with rdhart. I don't see why bananas should be bad, because they're sweet & gel-like. I once read that they have both properties, helping for diarhea and constipation. Besides, I think banana & apple should be good to "bind-up" food at the end of a meal, thus aiding elimination.]

[continuation of rdhart]: Also, the last thing to consider is, "Is my child getting TOO MUCH IRON?". Don't forget, iron is constipating. Avoid foods high in iron for a short time. Watch that multivitamin too. Try eliminating it or switching to one with a lower iron content, just for a short time.

Yes children need iron, however they also need to eliminate the waste in their bodies so they don't re-absorb the toxins that need to be eliminated. Reducing iron intake until the child's bowel problems clear up will not cause long term problems.

Use common sense. Yes prune juice may work, but it is high in iron & can cause cramping & very loose movements which can then be another problem in itself. You can get the child in a cycle of hard stool, watery stool, hard stool, etc.

And above all, keep in touch with your pediatrician, but don't rule out some of the natural remedies that your Mom or Grandmom may have used. While some of them are clearly outdated, others are full of common sense and work if modified to fit what we know today about good health & nutrition