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”

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.

No, It’s a Low-Fat, High-Fiber Diet That Keeps Gorillas Lean!

A recent arti­cle in the New York Times argued that goril­las stay slim because they eat a high-pro­tein diet. While I’m glad to see some­one else point out that a plant-based diet pro­vides ade­quate amounts of pro­tein, I’m annoyed to see sci­en­tists and jour­nal­ists mis­un­der­stand and mis­rep­re­sent the real sig­nif­i­cance of this fact. It’s as if they haven’t read the basic lit­er­a­ture on nutri­tion and can’t under­stand arith­metic.

Yes, the gorilla’s nat­ur­al diet is high in pro­tein, as a per­cent­age of calo­ries. How­ev­er, the goril­las’ nat­ur­al food tends to be low in calo­ries, because the calo­ries are dilut­ed by water and fiber. Goril­las have to eat an enor­mous amount of food every day to get enough calo­ries. When human vol­un­teers tried to eat a goril­la-style diet for a short peri­od of time to see how it would affect their cho­les­terol lev­els, they had to spend more than 8 hours a day eat­ing, just to get enough calo­ries to keep from los­ing weight dur­ing the tri­al. Goril­las stay slim because of the high fiber con­tent and low fat con­tent of their food, not because of the bal­ance of pro­tein to car­bo­hy­drate in their food!

The biggest dietary chal­lenge for a goril­la, as for any leaf-eater, is to get enough calo­ries. When they eat a rel­a­tive­ly high-pro­tein diet, they just end up con­vert­ing the excess pro­tein to sug­ar and burn­ing it for ener­gy. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, pro­tein is “dirty sug­ar.” Burn­ing pro­tein for ener­gy pro­duces waste prod­ucts such as urea and sul­fu­ric acid.

Peo­ple can stay very slim on a high-car­bo­hy­drate diet, if it is also high in fiber and low in fat. For exam­ple, when Chris Voigt of the Wash­ing­ton State Pota­to Com­mis­sion decid­ed to go on a pota­to-only diet as a pub­lic­i­ty stunt, he fig­ured that he had to eat 20 pota­toes a day. In prac­tice, he found it real­ly hard to eat his entire pota­to ration, because pota­toes are so fill­ing. As a result, he lost a lot of weight. Even when he made an effort to eat his entire pota­to ration every day, he con­tin­ued to lose weight. That’s because a starchy diet improves insulin sen­si­tiv­i­ty and thus revs up your metab­o­lism. Peo­ple who eat starchy diets burn more calo­ries than peo­ple on fat­ty diets. Voigt lost 21 pounds dur­ing his 60-day pota­to diet. His cho­les­terol lev­els, triglyc­eride lev­els, and even his blood sug­ar lev­els decreased!

Accord­ing to the New York Times, Dr. Rauben­heimer claimed that mod­ern soci­eties “are dilut­ing the con­cen­tra­tion of pro­tein in the mod­ern diet. But we eat to get the same amount of pro­teins we need­ed before, and in so doing, we’re overeat­ing.” What non­sense!

Nutri­tion sci­en­tists have known for more than 100 years that human pro­tein needs are mod­est and are eas­i­ly met by any rea­son­able plant-based diet. Also, the soci­eties with the biggest prob­lem with obe­si­ty are also the ones with the high­est pro­tein intake! Mod­ern soci­eties are con­sum­ing too much fat and too lit­tle fiber. Ani­mal foods are a big offend­er, because they con­tain fat but no fiber and usu­al­ly no digestible car­bo­hy­drate. Refined foods are also a big offend­er, because they rep­re­sent the con­cen­trat­ed calo­ries from plants–with the fiber and oth­er whole­some things stripped out.

The take-home les­son from the goril­la sto­ry shouldn’t have been that peo­ple need to eat more pro­tein. It’s that peo­ple need to eat plants. If peo­ple don’t want to spend 8 hours a day eat­ing leafy veg­eta­bles, they can eat some nice, fill­ing pota­toes or oth­er starchy sta­ples along with plen­ty of veg­eta­bles and fruit.

Quick, but temporary weight loss! This time from France!

I just heard about a “new” diet: the Dukan diet. It’s from France! It promis­es four steps to per­ma­nent weight loss! It promis­es that peo­ple will lose weight while eat­ing as much as they like! The prob­lem is that this “new” diet isn’t real­ly new. It’s just South Beach with a French accent. The quick results from the first phase aren’t from fat loss. Nor will your weight prob­lem be per­ma­nent­ly cured by the end of the pro­gram, regard­less of what Dr. Dukan says. It’s just more false hope for des­per­ate peo­ple.

Like many fad diets, the Dukan diet starts with a low-carb phase. As if by mag­ic, this phase caus­es peo­ple to lose sev­er­al pounds very quick­ly. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the weight that peo­ple lose so quick­ly does not rep­re­sent fat. Instead, it rep­re­sents the loss of the body’s glyco­gen stores. Glyco­gen is a starch that is stored in the liv­er and mus­cles. When the body needs quick ener­gy, the glyco­gen is bro­ken down into glu­cose, which is a sug­ar that is the body’s favorite fuel.

Like oth­er car­bo­hy­drates, glyco­gen pro­vides about 4 calo­ries per gram of dry weight. How­ev­er, the glyco­gen in the body isn’t dry. Each gram of glyco­gen absorbs about 2.7 grams of water. As a result, each gram of wet glyco­gen in the body rep­re­sents rough­ly 1 calo­rie of stored ener­gy. If you sud­den­ly deprive your­self of car­bo­hy­drates, your body will run through its glyco­gen stores very quick­ly, releas­ing water that will leave the body through the kid­neys. You would have to burn up almost 9 times as many calo­ries to lose that much weight from fat.

The rapid weight loss that results from cut­ting out car­bo­hy­drates may be thrilling to the frus­trat­ed dieter, but it is mean­ing­less. Nobody is over­weight from hav­ing too much glyco­gen, and your body will replace that glyco­gen and water as soon as it can. What peo­ple real­ly want to lose is fat. Besides, los­ing your glyco­gen can make you feel crum­my. When marathon­ers “hit the wall,” it’s typ­i­cal­ly because they’re run out of glyco­gen.

So the first phase of the Dukan diet or the South Beach Diet will cause a quick but tem­po­rary and mean­ing­less weight loss that could end up zap­ping your ener­gy. If the Dukan diet even­tu­al­ly helps you lose fat, it does so by mak­ing your body think that you are starv­ing or seri­ous­ly ill. Dur­ing a sud­den fast, the body’s sup­ply of car­bo­hy­drates is cut off. The body has to rely on its fat stores and the pro­teins in its tis­sues instead. A low-carb diet mim­ics this con­di­tion. The body may respond to this emer­gency by sup­press­ing the appetite. The per­son may then lose weight the old-fash­ioned way, by tak­ing in few­er calo­ries than he or she burns up.

The Dukan diet is based on a lie: that peo­ple get fat from eat­ing a high-carb diet. In real­i­ty, fat is fat­ten­ing, and starch­es are slim­ming. That’s because starch, like glyco­gen, holds water. It’s actu­al­ly hard to fat­ten your­self on starch­es. For exam­ple, con­sid­er what hap­pened when the head of the Wash­ing­ton State Pota­to Com­mis­sion went on an all-pota­to diet to protest the exclu­sion of pota­toes from the fed­er­al Women, Infants, and Chil­dren (WIC) pro­gram. He lost 21 pounds in 60 days, even though he was eat­ing about 20 pota­toes per day. He also cut his total cho­les­terol by over a third, and low­ered his blood sug­ar. In oth­er words, he also improved his health.

A starchy diet works on both sides of the weight loss equa­tion. You end up eat­ing few­er calo­ries, because the starchy foods are so bulky. Boiled starch­es often pro­vide only 1 calo­rie per gram, where­as fat pro­vides 9 calo­ries per gram. You also end up burn­ing more calo­ries on a low-fat, high-carb diet, because you become much more sen­si­tive to insulin. If you still man­age to have a few calo­ries left over, it’s hard for your body to store them as fat. You’d lose about 30% of the calo­ries in the con­ver­sion process, so your body just gen­er­al­ly revs up your metab­o­lism to burn off the excess. You may end up doing more activ­i­ty, or sim­ply gen­er­at­ing more body heat.

For­get Dukan’s false promis­es. The only proven way to achieve healthy, per­ma­nent weight loss is to switch to a low-fat, high-fiber, high-car­bo­hy­drate diet. That’s because it’s the kind of diet that is appro­pri­ate to the human body. If you sim­ply train your­self to eat­ing the right kinds of food, you can eat as much as you like and still stay slim.

Salad Deficiency” Causes Ulcerative Colitis in Gorillas

It’s Prob­a­bly an Impor­tant Cause of Ulcer­a­tive Col­i­tis in Humans, As Well.

Ulcer­a­tive col­i­tis” means open sores in the large intes­tine, which is also called the colon. This con­di­tion can cause severe abdom­i­nal pain and cramp­ing as well as bloody diar­rhea. The “leaky gut syn­drome” that results can cause joint pain and make the per­son feel sick all over.

Wild goril­las eat an extreme­ly high-fiber diet, con­sist­ing main­ly of leaves. Cap­tive goril­las that were fed a low-fiber diet were prone to severe ulcer­a­tive col­i­tis. The same thing might be hap­pen­ing in peo­ple with ulcer­a­tive col­i­tis.

High-fiber veg­eta­bles and fruits have sev­er­al ben­e­fi­cial effects on the large intes­tine:

  • Fiber absorbs water and keeps the mate­r­i­al inside the intestines nice and soft.
  • Fiber makes every­thing go through faster, which means that the wall of the intes­tine gets less expo­sure to harm­ful sub­stances, such as bile acids and free ammo­nia.
  • High-fiber fruits and veg­eta­bles pro­vide impor­tant nutri­ents and antiox­i­dants that are good for the health of the intestines, as well as the rest of the body.
  • Bac­te­ria in the large intes­tine fer­ment some of the fiber, releas­ing short-chain fat­ty acids such as butyrate, which is the favorite fuel of the cells that line the large intes­tine. On a low-fiber diet, those cells could starve to death.

Are Researchers Bark­ing Up the Wrong Tree?
When I looked up what clin­i­cal tri­als were being done on ulcer­a­tive col­i­tis (, I found lots of tri­als of drug treat­ments, some tri­als of “pro­bi­otics” (bac­te­r­i­al cul­tures), a few tri­als of sur­gi­cal treat­ments, and even a few tri­als of psy­chother­a­py and hyp­no­sis. There were some stud­ies in which peo­ple receive butyrate in high-colonic ene­mas. There were even some tri­als in which peo­ple were fed mare’s milk or fish. Apes don’t milk mares or catch fish, so why would any­one imag­ine that peo­ple would have to do that to keep their intestines healthy?

In oth­er words, there were 224 clin­i­cal tri­als involv­ing all sorts of drugs and surgery and so on, but no clin­i­cal tri­als try­ing the obvi­ous ther­a­peu­tic approach, which is a change to a healthy diet. We know that a low-fiber diet caus­es ulcer­a­tive col­i­tis in goril­las, which have a diges­tive sys­tem almost iden­ti­cal to our own. We also know that eat­ing wheat prod­ucts can cause bloody diar­rhea in a tiny minor­i­ty of the pop­u­la­tion. So why isn’t any­one doing research about how to coun­sel peo­ple to solve this prob­lem by cor­rect­ing their diet? Here’s a link to a descrip­tion of a sim­ple yet health­ful exclu­sion diet:

If you want your colon to be healthy, you have to feed it prop­er­ly. If you already have ulcer­a­tive col­i­tis or any oth­er prob­lem with your intestines, ask your doc­tor to refer you to a reg­is­tered dietit­ian (RD) for dietary advice.