Most people have bowel movements every day or every second day depending on their diet and lifestyle. Constipation is having difficulty trying to empty your bowels for more than 3 or 4 days, or having extremely hard stools that cause pain when you try to expel them from your body. You must eat food that softens your stools to relieve constipation. Eating food that makes them harden will make the condition worse.
Heavy foods like red meat, deep-fried foods like battered fish and chips, bakery products with like pastries, cakes and bread generally take a long time to digest. Food must pass through the stomach, large intestine, small intestine, colon then the bowels before the waste products are passed out of the body as waste. Along the way different nutrients and water are extracted and delivered to the part of the body that requires it. The longer the process takes the more water is extracted, the drier or harder the stools become. Also if food is relatively dry to start with or inadequate liquid (excluding caffine products and alcohol which may be dyhydrating) is consumed the end product (the stools) will subsequently be dry or hard. [“Water is the best drink for a wise man.” said the French philosopher Henry David Thoreau.]
Red meat comes from large strong animals so it’s meat is tougher compared with the animals that white meat comes from. Therefore its meat takes longer to break down in our bodies because the muscles are stronger. White meat is easier to digest because fish and poultry have smaller muscles compared with cattle and pigs.
Fried food is generally oily. Oil makes the food tasty and softer in most cases but it is something the body doesn’t really need. The body must work harder to extract oil and fats from food so that they can be expelled. If the body’s digestive system is busy trying to neutralise other toxins that have entered the system the fat will be placed in “storage areas” around the body until it has resources to process it. When these “store rooms” are too crowded we feel bloated and uncomfortable.
Products which contain a lot of wheat flour and oil which have little nutritional value. Flour is basically a carrier for other foods. For example, the pastry shell of a pie is a “bag” or edible packaging for the meat, vegetables or fruit inside it, bread is what holds a sandwich together. The crust or bread simply make the filling more palatable and easier to digest. But most breads and pastries are simply flour, oil and air which contain no nutrients. Consuming more of the pastry rather than the filling will just clog up your digestive system, especially if you are constipated.
As my title promised I need to nominate the 3 top foods to avoid that someone with constipation should avoid. To narrow down the candidates we should consider foods that fall into two or all of the above three categories then pick out the ones that are consumed the most. The nominations are:
- Meat pies and sausage rolls contain red meat and flour.
- Fish and Chips are fried and the batter contains flour.
- Barbecued or grilled steak – meat that is cooked relatively quickly doesn’t break down the fatty tissue and muscles as well as slow cooked meat so when it enters your stomach it has to be broken down more by your digestive juices.
- Potato chips or crisps are fried and very dry. Your body must use more water to digest this so your stools will become harder if you are already constipated.
- Hard cheeses as they have most of their moisture content pressed out in their production process. As well they contain fat and protein from a large animal.
- Deep fried meat like schnitzel, sweet and sour pork, fried chicken.
- Bacon and eggs or sausages and eggs.
- Salami and other processed meats.
My pick for the top three are meat pies, deep-fried battered fish ‘n chips and potato crisps. What are yours?