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Dr. GIFFORD-JONES: Lifestyle changes best options

August 30,2018 04:20

Why must humans be so foolish and reach for laxatives when there's a natural, safe and inexpensive way to treat constipation and stop grunting? Barnum and Bailey, the circus promoters, were right when they said, “There's a sucker born every minute.” In ...and more »


Why must humans be so foolish and reach for laxatives when there’s a natural, safe and inexpensive way to treat constipation and stop grunting?
Barnum and Bailey, the circus promoters, were right when they said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” In this case it’s the suckers who fall easy prey to T.V ads that preach health benefits of laxatives.
I realize that at a dinner party one is more inclined to talk about cholesterol numbers than frequency of bowel movements. But chronic grunting with BMs is not just an annoyance. It’s also associated with increased risk of hemorrhoids and may be related to diverticulosis, small hernias of the large bowel which lead to inflammation. It’s also a sign of faulty dietary habits that result in obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart attack.
So how often should you have a bowel movement? Judy Nee, an instructor at the Harvard Medical School, says constipation is usually defined as having fewer than three bowel movements a week. But when you’re straining to go, pass hard, bumpy stools, or feel there’s more stool to pass, you have a bowel problem.
There are several causes of constipation. But the primary problem is a lack of fibre. Years ago constipation was common among sailors due to a lack of fruits and vegetables. Dr. Thomas Cleaves, a British naval surgeon, cured this condition by feeding them raw bran.
Today, most North Americans eat about 15 grams of fibre daily, but they should be consuming twice that amount. Fibre, along with increased amounts of water adds bulk to stools which are normally about 75 per cent water. So rather than attempting to pass stools as hard as rocks, they become soft as toothpaste. (If you are inquisitive look in the toilet bowl as stools with increased fibre often float!)
A good routine is to start the day with a high fibre cereal such as Fiber First or Fiber One. But if you find this not appetizing, PGX (PolyGlycopleX) is a natural super fibre gel that gram for gram provides more fibre punch than any other fibers. In fact, some authorities consider PGX to be the Holy Grail in treating obesity, as it decreases the hunger reflex. The initial dose is one to two soft gels one hour before meals with a glass of water. This is the same as eating three bowls of oatmeal.
Increasing activity helps constipation. So does allowing a bowel movement when nature calls. Delaying it for a more convenient moment is a good start to developing a lazy bowel.
Many years ago I interviewed Dr. Linus Pauling, a two-time Nobel Prize winner. The purpose was to discuss his research on vitamin C and how it prevented cardiovascular disease. But a chance remark surprised me. He said “I also take vitamin C as it’s a safe, natural way to prevent constipation.”
No dosage of C fits everyone’s bowels, so it requires a little experimentation. But It’s always advisable to start with a low dose and gradually increase it as too much causes diarrhea. A good start is to take 2,000 milligrams (mgs) with the evening meal or at bedtime, then another 2,000 mg with breakfast.
Pauling’s routine was to take 20,000 mg in three divided doses during the day. This resulted in a morning BM, but he was also convinced it protected him from cardiovascular disease. He died at 93 years of age of prostate cancer.
I believe 10,000 mg of vitamin C has kept me alive for 20 years after a coronary attack. I take a powered form of C, Medi-C Plus, that also contains lysine. This combination helps to keep arteries open and the arterial wall strong to also decrease the risk heart attack and stroke. Several brands of powered C and PGX are available in health food stores.
Remember, a sound lifestyle always helps to increase longevity and decrease the risk of grunting with BMs. So don’t be a Barnum and Baily sucker who believes laxatives solve constipation. Try natural remedies. I can’t recall a case of constipation that couldn’t be cured by increasing doses of vitamin C. Besides, natural remedies never kill anyone.
Dr. W. Gifford-Jones is a syndicated columnist whose medical column appears in The Guardian every Tuesday. Check out his website, Docgiff.com, which provides easy access to past columns and medical tips. For comments, readers are invited to email him at info@docgiff.com. He can also be found at Twitter.com/GiffordJonesMD.

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