Our ancestors who lived without grains, sugars, and soft drinks enjoyed predictable bowel behavior. They ate turtle, fish, clams, mushrooms, coconut, or mongongo nuts for breakfast, and out it all came that afternoon or evening—large, steamy, filled with undigested remains and prolific quantities of bacteria, no straining, laxatives, or stack of magazines required.
If instead you are living a modern life and have pancakes with maple syrup for breakfast and you’ll be lucky to pass that out by tomorrow or the next day. Perhaps, you will be constipated, not passing out your pancakes and syrup for days, passing it incompletely in hard, painful bits and pieces. In constipation’s most extreme forms, the remains of pancakes can stay in your colon for weeks.
Bran is not the answer to eliminate this embarrassing problem. – Tweet this!
We have been given advice to consume more fiber. So, we eat bran cereal/muffins, whole grain breads or drink powdered fiber supplements. Most of these grain-based foods contain insoluble cellulose (wood) fibers. This does work for some, as indigestible cellulose fibers, undigested by our own digestive apparatus as well as undigested by bowel flora, yields “bulk” that people mistake for a healthy bowel movement. Never mind that all the other disruptions of digestion, from your mouth on down, are not addressed by loading up your diet with wood fibers. What if sluggish bowel movements prove unresponsive to such fibers? That’s when health care comes to the rescue with laxatives.
Drugs are not the answer to eliminate this uncomfortable problem. – Tweet this!
Laxatives are prescribed in a variety of forms, some irritative (phenolphthalein and senna), some lubricating (dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate), some osmotic (polyethylene glycol), some no different than spraying you down with a hose (enemas).
Opiate drugs such as Oxycontin and morphine are commonly constipating. There’s even a new drug being widely advertised to “treat” the constipation side-effect of opiates: Relistor, or methylnaltrexone, an opiate-blocker that requires injection and costs around $700 per month. Those of you who have read Wheat Belly Total Health recall that the gliadin protein of wheat and related proteins in other grains (e.g., secalin in rye) are partially digested to peptides that have opiate (“opioid”) properties, including binding to the opiate receptors in the human intestine. Wheat and grains therefore contain a disrupter of intestinal motility.
Simply remove wheat and grains and constipation, even obstipation (severe, unrelenting constipation with bowel movements occurring every several weeks), can be relieved within days. This works because you have just removed the opiates that slow the intestinal passage of food. You will have removed a source of cellulose fiber, as well as the modest content of prebiotic fibers from grains, namely amylose and arabinoxylan, but these are easily replaced.
This is the Wheat Belly approach to eliminating constipation. – Tweet this!
- Eliminate all wheat and grains–thereby eliminating gliadin-derived opiates.
- Cultivate the garden called bowel flora–by “seeding” with a high-potency probiotic, followed by “water and fertilizer” to nourish desired species with prebiotic fibers
- Hydrate well.
- Supplement magnesium. Virtually everyone begins with a magnesium deficiency. A magnesium deficiency adds to disrupted intestinal motility, reversed by supplementing magnesium. However, the degree of stool loosening varies among the different preparations due to their variations in osmotic (water-imbibing) effects. Magnesium water and magnesium malate are among our preferred forms, as they are least likely to generate loose stools while softly helping with regularity. Magnesium citrate can be used if you do indeed need a bit more stool softening and regularity (which can be due to delayed recovery of intestinal motility after removing wheat and grains).
- Supplement with fiber. This is not necessary for most people living the Wheat Belly lifestyle. Just by adhering to the simple Wheat Belly strategies of consuming nuts; seeds such as pumpkin, sesame, chia, flaxseed, and sunflower; eating plenty of vegetable with limited servings of fruit and legumes like chickpeas, you obtain plentiful quantities of cellulose and other fibers. Additional flaxseed, chia, or psyllium are among the best choices.
You can see that the Wheat Belly approach does not rely on artificial means of reversing constipation to restore normal gut motility. It does not load up on unnatural quantities of cellulose fiber, as you would by eating bran cereals and muffins, nor does it rely on intestinal irritants, softening agents, or opiate-blocking drugs.
Doesn’t that make better sense?
Living grain-free is the answer to eliminate this embarrassing & uncomfortable problem. – Tweet this!
Yours in grainless health,
Dr. William Davis