Thank you for all your responses on my opening remarks on constipation. I was taken back but not surprised that one woman from Texas wanted to know what I looked like. I guess she wanted to picture me in the bathroom as she explored her own constipation issues. So I searched the ND Labs photo bank and picked out my combative – army constipation picture. As you can see I am suited up and ready to do battle with any "hard or soft doody" that comes my way.
Now you know what I look like – let’s get started with the basics. With each entry I will explore a new bowel health related topic, answer your questions, provide trivia and fast facts. Bathroom trivia and fast facts make great cocktail party "small talk".
Let’s start with the definition of Chronic Constipation.
The healthcare industry defines constipation as one who experiences any of the following conditions over a 3 month period:
A. Having less than three bowel movements a week.
B. Straining at least 25% of the time, with lumpy or hard stools.
C. Having the sensation of incomplete evacuation and/or
D. Needing to use digital evacuation (finger grabbing).
Regardless of which description you use to describe your constipation, it is then often associated with the following; training, feeling of incomplete evacuation, pain while passing stool, feeling bloated, pot belly, weight gain and a feeling of discomfort and/or sluggishness.
Do you agree with this definition? I would think not. If you or your loved one has not had a bowel movement for one, two or three days you would say that you were constipated. I do not think that you would wait three months before making the diagnosis.
The bottom line is that "constipation" is self defined. Everyone has their own comfort level and therefore therefore their own definition.
What causes constipation? Often it is caused by emotional stress, medications, medical condition, immobility, poor hydration, and/or lack of dietary fiber (bulk).
Questions to Ponder...
1. Who decides if you are constipated?
A. Your wife
B. Your doctor
C. The nurse who does your rectal exam
2. Who invented the first toilet?
3. How long is the gastrointestinal (GI) track? The GI track is the tube that moves food from the mouth to the anus?
A. 2 feet
B. 5 feet
C. 15 feet
D. 25 feet
(Answers will be provided in my next posting.)
Due to the increased publicity of the health benefits surrounding fiber, food companies are creating fiber enriched versions of almost anything and everything you can dream of. Taking a walk down the supermarket aisle I found fiber-enhanced yogurt, cottage cheese, snack bars, water, juices, cereals, pasta - the list can go on and on. Kellogg’s has even added fiber to their Poptarts! I think that my pantry is overflowing in speciality items. Now, it is true I do want to provide a healthy diet for my family, so let's learn more about this fiber craze.
First we should note that there is more than one type of fiber. Most fibers are catagorized as either Soluble or Insoluble.
What’s the difference and what do I need?
Soluble Fiber attracts water and forms a gel during digestion. It helps lower cholesterol by binding with fatty acids. Soluble fiber also prolongs stomach emptying time so that sugar is absorbed more slowly, important for those with blood sugar issues. And the longer emptying time makes you feel full longer – a great plus for those on a diet! The scientific names for some soluble fibers include pectins, gums, mucilages, and some hemicelluloses.
Insoluble Fiberpasses through our intestines mostly intact. Insoluble fiber helps with constipation and regular bowel movements by moving stool through the intestine. Insoluble fiber is said to help prevent colon cancer by controlling and balancing the pH (acidity) of the intestine. By keeping an optimal pH in the intestine, microbes can't produce cancerous substances. The scientific names for insoluble fibers includes; cellulose, some hemicellulose and lignins.
How much of each do I need? It is recommended that 75% of fiber be insoluble and 25% soluble. Therefore, if I was to take in 25 grams of fiber a day - then 18 grams or so should be insoluble and 7 grams soluble. Most foods in and of themselves are higher in insoluble fiber then soluble fiber.
The truth remains, most Americans only eat about 10-12 grams of fiber per day and keeping our refrigerators full of high fiber foods is not easy. Not to mention that buying foods with added fiber is costly.
That’s when a fiber supplements come in handy. The American Dietetic Association's position is that when one cannot eat enough fiber from "regular" foods then one should utilize a fiber supplement in order to meet the recommended daily intake. Nutritional Design Direct has a full line of fiber supplements which can easily be added to products you already buy. Nutritional Designs fibers come in liquid or powder form and contain 7-15 grams portion. However, you may find "Chips to Go", high fiber cookies a real blessing when you are in a rush. "Chips to Go" contains a whopping 5 grams of fiber per cookie and score a 1 on Weight Watchers piont system - a great snack with terrific health benefits!
Mike Allen, R. Ph.
Mike Allen, R. Ph.
First, let’s define constipation. There is no set number of times a person should have a bowel movement. The general definition is having ...<< MORE >>