Do You Know Nutrition: Combat constipation naturally

By Phylis Canion
Feb. 25, 2014 at midnight
Updated Feb. 24, 2014 at 8:25 p.m.

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 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 No. 1 gastrointestinal disorder in the United States, according to Dr. James F. Balch, 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/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 and prune juice 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 multivitamin that contains magnesium can be beneficial because people with constipation are often magnesium deficient. Eat lightly cooked vegetables (raw may be too harsh for your system) and plenty of nuts and beans. And as I always recommend, drinking one-half of your body weight in ounces of water daily (i.e. if you weigh 120 pounds, you need 60 ounces of water daily.)

Thought for the week: We all want what we don't have, but sometimes, it's good to stop and think - maybe all we have is all we really need.

Class: Next free Nutrition Class will be at 7 p.m. March 10 at Organic Emporium.

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



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