Do You Know Nutrition: Prunes put move on constipation

Feb. 1, 2011 at midnight
Updated Jan. 31, 2011 at 8:01 p.m.

By Phylis Canion

I have a lot of gut issues and take calcium-based antacids daily. I have severe constipation, and I wonder if it is the gut issues or the antacids I take. I know I need to get off of the diet sodas and probably all the caffeine that I drink, but what else should I eliminate to correct the constipation? I am not a big water drinker. I just read that 90 percent of the body's immunity is in the gut and if that is the case, there is no wonder that I am sick all of the time.

Constipation, the number one gastrointestinal disorder in the United States, according to James F. Balch, M.D., is when waste and sludge pass through the large intestine too slowly. There are several recommendations that can help constipation. However, it is best to eliminate what could be causing the problem. Antacids are alkaline substances in pill form that neutralize the stomach acid. When stomach acid is removed by neutralizing, the result is malabsorption of essential nutrients, which can result in constipation, as well as other health problems.

Calcium-based antacids are notorious for causing constipation in addition to headaches, unusual tiredness and weakness and muscle pain or twitching. Aluminum-based antacids also cause constipation, as well as mood problems and bone pain. Canned sodas and caffeine are dehydrating to the system and should be eliminated immediately. Mucus forming foods, which slow the transit time of waste matter to a slow crawl should be avoided at all cost and that includes dairy products (especially milk), fried foods, processed foods (most are genetically modified), refined flours and sugars. If you suffer from gluten sensitivity, which may contribute to constipation, gluten-free food choices may be more beneficial.

Some medications can also cause constipation, so it is important that you discuss that with your physician or your pharmacist.

Now for the good stuff. Prunes, get a thumbs-up as the time honored, best source, of natural dietary fiber and should be a regular on your breakfast menu. Chia seeds, ground or gel caps, are an excellent source of highly concentrated fiber for the digestive system, as well as aloe vera juice. A good multi-vitamin that contains magnesium can be beneficial since people with constipation are often magnesium deficient. Lightly-cooked vegetables (raw may be too harsh for your system) and plenty of nuts and beans are good. And as I always recommend, one-half of your body weight in ounces of water daily (i.e. if you weigh 120, you need 60 ounces of water daily).

Because Valentine's Day falls on Monday, Feb. 14, the monthly nutrition class will be held on Feb. 21, 7 p.m., at Organic Emporium. Call today to book your seat: 361-576-2100.

Phylis B. Canion is a doctor of naturopathic medicine and is a certified nutritional consultant, e-mail her at This column is for nutritional information only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure.



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