Let’s rediscuss the issue of constipation, as this has been coming up more than usual in Wheat Belly Facebook page discussions. As I’ve previously mentioned, constipation perfectly illustrates just how easy gaining natural control over a health struggle can be, while conventional healthcare “solutions” blunder their way around with absurd prescription drugs that, while they make plenty of money for Big Pharma and others in the business of healthcare, rarely address underlying causes.
I call this the “Three M’s of Constipation” to make it easy to remember. I assume that, if you have struggled with constipation, you have already addressed the common-sense strategies of hydrating better, including plentiful fibers (of all varieties, especially of the prebiotic variety), and staying physically active.
The Three M’s of Constipation are:
Magnesium—We all begin the program with substantial magnesium depletion, given our consumption of filtered water and commercial mass-produced vegetables and fruit. Water filtration removes 99.9% of all magnesium from drinking water, unlike water flowing over rocks and minerals in rivers and streams. Modern produce typically has about half the magnesium of conventionally-farmed, organic, or homegrown lettuce, spinach, and green peppers. During your wheat- and grain-consuming days, you were exposed to plentiful quantities of phytates that bound dietary magnesium up, making it unavailable for absorption, and you lost it in your bowel movements. Eliminating wheat/grains, then replenishing magnesium helps restore normal bowel movement consistency and frequency.
Morphine and other opioids—Big Pharma makes big business out of opioid-induced constipation with agents such as Symproic, Relistor, and Movantik prescribed to deal with constipation that results from taking opiates like morphine and Oxycontin. Most of us here, of course, do not take such opiates, but may continue to be exposed to the opioid peptides that result from partial digestion of the gliadin protein of wheat and related grains. Gliadin-derived opioid peptides are a prominent and common cause of constipation in many people by slowing the propulsive action (“peristalsis”) of the gastrointestinal tract. Some of the worst constipation I’ve ever seen, called “obstipation” in which people experience bowel movements every several weeks despite enemas, laxative, stool softeners, and useless advice from gastroenterologists, responds promptly to wheat/grain elimination. It also returns with re-exposure. As you can appreciate, taking a prescription drug does nothing to address the cause: consumption of gliadin-induced opioid peptides.
Methanogenic SIBO—Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, SIBO, is a situation in which unhealthy bacterial species proliferate, suppress healthy probiotic species like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria, then ascend up the 24-feet of ileum, jejunum, duodenum, and stomach. In this situation, a unique class of microbes from the pre-bacterial world of Archaea, or methanogens, such as Methanobrevibacter smithii, dominate. Methanogenic SIBO is another somewhat common cause of constipation, sometimes severe. This condition also goes by the label “IBS-C,” or irritable bowel syndrome with constipation. Guess what: Big Pharma comes to the rescue once again with a drug to “treat” IBS-C with a drug called Linzess. Once again, you can appreciate that just screwing with intestinal physiology to force bowel movements does not address the overgrowth of methanogenic microbes.
Recognizing these Three M’s of Constipation can point you in the direction of solutions.
Magnesium: Easy. Just eat no wheat or grains, choose organic produce whenever possible, eat nuts and seeds rich in magnesium, supplement magnesium.
Morphine and other opioids: Obviously, avoid all such things from Oxycontin to gliadin-derived opioid peptides.
Methanogenic SIBO: This is the toughest of all, although I am witnessing more and more people obtain relief. One of the solutions is our Lactobacillus reuteri yogurt, as L. reuteri has been shown to reduce methanogens in the GI tract. I shall be talking more about methanogenic SIBO in coming conversations.