Foods That Cause Constipation

Constipation is an entity that stalks our daily lives making the daily grind intolerable for us -Mental depression, abdominal pain and headaches together with a general feeling of uneasiness are a few symptoms that this hydra headed complaint produces causing constipation. Various people have their own frequency of bowel movements and constipation is defined as having less than 3 bowel movements per week.

Food as you know moves down the intestine with recurring waves of contraption called peristalsis,though peristalsis is an automatic process requiring no stimulus its intensity is dependendent on how the intestine is stretched by food. . To understand what causes constipation we have to understand something of the ultra structure of the intestine and the physiology of nerve conduction and muscle contraction.
From inside outwards the intestine consists of the mucus membrane, lamina propria, the muscularis mucosae, the submucus coat, the muscularis externa and the serous coat. The layers that are of interest to us in understanding constipation are the submucus coat and the muscularis externa. The submucus coat contains two bundles of nerve fibers arranged in two plexuses, the Messner’s plexus and the Aurebach’s plexus. These nerve fibers conduct electrochemical currents in the form of moving sodium and potassium ions. These impulses occur when the nerve fibers are stimulated by stretch receptor which as their name suggests are themselves stimulated by stretching of the intestine in whose walls they are situated. The muscularis externa contains two layers of smooth muscle cells. These smooth muscles contract when a nerve impulse initiated by stretching of the intestinal walls reaches its cell surface forcing calcium ions into the cytoplasm and making its contractile protein actin and myosin to interdigitate. The contraction of these muscle cells forces the stool stored in the intestine through the rectum to the exterior. In constipation the intestine is not stretched and these muscles do not contract. This is the basic patho-physiology of constipation causes.
There is another reason why constipation occurs is and that when stool moves through the colon water is gradually absorbed from the faecal mass. If too much water is absorbed the stool becomes hard and is difficult to excrete.
It has been found that consumption of certain foods is linked with an increase in constipation. Let us discuss them one by one. Foods that cause constipation are
  • Prepared proteinous foods-Cooking food gives rise to certain chemicals. Eg beta carotenes. This compound has anesthetic properties. These slow down bowel movement so that constipation occurs. Cooking also gives rise to heterocyclic amines by reaction between protein and carbohydrates. These react with benzodiazepine receptors in the brain producing the same effect. Pre cooked foods like canned meat and fish are at high risk to cause constipation.
  • Dairy products-Food like milk, cheese and yoghurt cause constipation.
  • Mother’s milk of any mammal contain opoid peptides encased in larger proteins like casein, lactalbumin, beta-lactaglobulin and lactoferrin.Babies absorb these proteins into their bloodstream but in adults these molecules remain in the intestine. They cannot be digested easily and before they are decomposed they anesthetize the bowels leading to constipation.
  • Wheat products-like bread, cookies, pasta and pastries cause constipation. Wheat contains very powerful opoid peptides some of which are almost 100 times more potent than a morphine molecule. They are enclosed in special proteins called glutens and are set free by digestion with intestinal enzymes. Because of the heat of proteins the structure of the opoid peptides are chemically changed  and  are very hard to decompose by the action of intestinal enzymes. Moreover beta-carolines produced during cooking inhibit these enzymes.These compounds anaesthetize the bowels leading to constipation.
  • Supplementary iron and calcium cause constipation. Iron is a metal which carries an electric and magnetic charge. Somehow in ways still not understood it modifies the electrochemical impulse in the intestinal nerves leading to constipation. Also in ways not understood, it lowers the blood and oxygen flow in intestinal muscle. Excess of calcium causes the musculature in the intestine to go into a state of contraction thus inhibiting it and making it unable to contract on stimulus.
  • Consumption of drinks like cola drinks, energy drinks and lots of tea and coffee cause constipation.
  • Some of the medicines you may be taking is causing your constipation. Consult your doctor.
So it can be seen that to prevent constipation one does not need to despair or take recourse to drugs or laxatives to restore normal function. Help is already at hand. By simply avoiding a few common foods it is possible to maintain a healthy bowel habit.

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At last! Someone who understands! Thanks for potsing!
by Terry     19-Feb-2012

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