Constipation Can Cause Pants-Wetting and Bed-Wetting

Back in Novem­ber 2011, I explained that chil­dren who “refuse” to have bow­el move­ments in the pot­ty or are “hold­ing” their stool for days on end aren’t mis­be­hav­ing, they’re con­sti­pat­ed. Recent­ly, I saw some pub­lished stud­ies (click here and here) that showed that con­sti­pa­tion can also cause pants-wet­ting and bed-wet­ting acci­dents. Those stud­ies showed that the prob­lem could often be solved by giv­ing the child lax­a­tives. A bet­ter solu­tion would be to feed the child a diet that would pre­vent con­sti­pa­tion to begin with: a plant-based diet with no dairy prod­ucts.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “Con­sti­pa­tion Can Cause Pants-Wet­ting and Bed-Wet­ting”

What is Diverticulitis?

A friend of mine recent­ly had a brush with death. She was unknow­ing­ly car­ry­ing a time bomb in her large intes­tine, and when it went off, it near­ly took her with it. She had a diver­tic­u­lar abscess, which burst and thus allowed the bac­te­ria to get into her abdom­i­nal cav­i­ty. That caused a prob­lem called peri­toni­tis.

All things con­sid­ered, she got off easy. She had to have emer­gency surgery to remove the dam­aged por­tion of her large intes­tine and clean up the mess in her abdomen. She may have a fierce-look­ing scar, but she’s alive, and she can still go to the bath­room nor­mal­ly, instead of into a colosto­my bag on her side.

The prob­lem start­ed when part of the wall of her large intes­tine “bal­looned out” to form a lit­tle pouch called a diver­tic­u­lum. When you have these diver­tic­u­la, the con­di­tion is called diver­tic­u­lo­sis. Here’s what diver­tic­u­lo­sis looks like, from inside the large intes­tine:

About half of Amer­i­cans over 50 years of age have diver­tic­u­lo­sis and don’t even know it. Diver­tic­u­lo­sis may cause mild, inter­mit­tent symp­toms of pain and bloat­ing in the low­er left side of the bel­ly. It may cause bouts of diar­rhea and con­sti­pa­tion. It is a com­mon cause of rec­tal bleed­ing in peo­ple over 40 years of age. Or it may cause no symp­toms at all. If one of the diver­tic­u­la gets infect­ed, the con­di­tion is called diver­ti­c­uli­tis. It’s just like appen­dici­tis, except that the symp­toms are worse on the low­er left, rather than the low­er right, side of the bel­ly. If the inflamed diver­tic­u­lum bursts, you can end up with life-threat­en­ing peri­toni­tis.

Diver­tic­u­lar dis­ease is com­mon in the Unit­ed States. How­ev­er, it’s rare in places like Africa and Asia, where peo­ple eat a high-fiber, plant-based diet. Accord­ing to the Nation­al Insti­tute of Dia­betes and Diges­tive and Kid­ney Dis­eases (NIDDK), the best treat­ment for most cas­es of diver­tic­u­lo­sis is a high-fiber diet. Both sol­u­ble and insol­u­ble fiber are help­ful, because they retain water and make the stool soft­er and eas­i­er to pass. If the mus­cles of the large intes­tine don’t have to strain so hard, they won’t gen­er­ate the high pres­sure that can cause a diver­tic­u­lum to form.

Some doc­tors say that peo­ple with diver­tic­u­lo­sis should avoid eat­ing small seeds, such as those in toma­toes or rasp­ber­ries. How­ev­er, the NIDDK says that there is no sci­en­tif­ic infor­ma­tion to sup­port that rec­om­men­da­tion.

Dairy prod­ucts increase the risk for diver­tic­u­lo­sis by caus­ing con­sti­pa­tion. When dairy pro­tein is digest­ed, it can pro­duce mor­phine-like com­pounds that slow down the mus­cles that are sup­posed to push food through the intestines.

To pre­vent diver­tic­u­lo­sis, pre­vent con­sti­pa­tion. Eat lots and lots of unre­fined starch­es and veg­eta­bles. Avoid dairy prod­ucts. A diet like that is also good for main­tain­ing a healthy weight, con­trol­ling your cho­les­terol and blood sug­ar, and pre­vent­ing osteo­poro­sis.

Is the Child Resisting Toilet Training? Or Merely Constipated?

Yes­ter­day, a friend of mine told me about a four-year-old boy who was “resist­ing” being toi­let trained. She said that the child would uri­nate in the toi­let but that he’d “hold it” for three days rather than defe­cate in his pot­ty. I told her that I couldn’t imag­ine that any­body who eats a high-fiber veg­an diet could “hold it” for three days, even if he tried, unless he was tak­ing mor­phine or some oth­er drug that shuts down gut motil­i­ty. I said that the child’s prob­lem didn’t sound to me like resis­tance to pot­ty train­ing. It sound­ed like con­sti­pa­tion. His refusal to go on the pot­ty prob­a­bly reflects the fact that his bow­el move­ments are uncom­fort­able or even ago­niz­ing­ly painful, and it’s prob­a­bly because he’s being fed dairy prod­ucts and a lot of processed food. She admit­ted that the poor child was being fed cow’s milk and wasn’t eat­ing much fruit and veg­eta­bles or even whole grains.

Think about it. If you are a tod­dler or preschool­er and have had some painful expe­ri­ences on the pot­ty, wouldn’t you avoid the pot­ty the way you’d avoid any tor­ture device? Painful expe­ri­ences have trained the child to avoid the pot­ty. I can only hope that the poor child’s care­givers aren’t adding to the child’s mis­ery by pun­ish­ing him for fail­ing to use the pot­ty.

Bow­el move­ments aren’t sup­posed to hurt. If a child’s bow­el move­ments are infre­quent or dif­fi­cult, there is some­thing wrong. The usu­al cause of the prob­lem is the diet.

Cow’s milk and oth­er dairy prod­ucts are a com­mon cause of severe con­sti­pa­tion in chil­dren. The diges­tion of casein, which is the major pro­tein in cow’s milk, pro­duces pro­tein frag­ments that are called caso­mor­phins because they have drug effects that are sim­i­lar to those of mor­phine. Besides being slight­ly addic­tive, caso­mor­phins can cause severe con­sti­pa­tion. For­tu­nate­ly, human beings do not need to con­sume any cow’s milk prod­ucts at all, ever.

A low-fiber diet is also a com­mon con­tribut­ing cause of con­sti­pa­tion in chil­dren. Ani­mal-based foods all con­tain zero fiber, and refined plant foods con­tain very lit­tle fiber. As a result, the stan­dard Amer­i­can diet, which is based on ani­mal-source foods (includ­ing dairy prod­ucts) and refined foods, is a recipe for con­sti­pa­tion. It is also a major cause of appen­dici­tis, which can be dead­ly. If all of the foods that a child is offered con­tain fiber, the child will eat fiber.

Often, a child’s refusal to use the pot­ty is viewed as a prob­lem with the child’s behav­ior. How­ev­er, I think that when a child doesn’t poop for three or more days, it’s prob­a­bly the care­giv­er, not the child, who is mis­be­hav­ing. The care­giv­er is prob­a­bly fail­ing to feed the child the kind of diet that would enable the child to have nor­mal bow­el move­ments. Any health­care pro­fes­sion­al who sug­gests drug treatments–even over-the-counter laxatives–or behav­ioral inter­ven­tions with­out teach­ing the care­givers how to cor­rect the child’s diet is also mis­be­hav­ing, in my hum­ble opin­ion.