Eat, Pray, Push

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Here’s an excerpt from chapter 4 of Wheat Belly Total Health, Your Bowels Have Been Fouled: Intestinal Indignities From Grains:

“A condition as pedestrian as constipation serves to perfectly illustrate many of the ways in which grains mess with normal body functions, as well as just how wrong conventional ‘solutions’ can be. Constipation remedies are like the Keystone Kops of health, stumbling, fumbling, and bumping into each other, but never quite putting out the fire.

“Drop a rock from the top of a building and it predictably hits the ground—not sometimes, not half the time, but every time. That’s how the bowels are programmed to work, as well: Put food in your mouth, and it should come out the other end, preferably that same day and certainly no later than tomorrow. People living primitive lives without grains, sugars, and soft drinks enjoy such predictable bowel behavior: Eat some turtle, fish, clams, mushrooms, coconut, or mongongo nuts for breakfast, and out it all comes that afternoon or evening—large, steamy, filled with undigested remains and prolific quantities of bacteria, no straining, laxatives, or stack of magazines required. Live a modern life and have pancakes with maple syrup for breakfast, instead. You’ll be lucky to pass that out by tomorrow or the next day. Or perhaps you will be constipated, not passing out your pancakes and syrup for days, passing it incompletely in hard, painful bits and pieces. In constipation’s most extreme forms, the remains of pancakes can stay in your colon for weeks. The combined effects of impaired CCK signaling, reduced bile release, insufficient pancreatic enzymes, and changes in bowel flora disrupt the orderly passage of digested foods.

“We are given advice to include more fiber, especially insoluble cellulose (wood) fibers from grains, in our diets. We then eat breakfast cereals or other grain-based foods rich in cellulose fibers and, lo and behold, it does work for some, as indigestible cellulose fibers, undigested by our own digestive apparatus as well as undigested by bowel flora, yield bulk that people mistake for a healthy bowel movement. Never mind that all of the other disruptions of digestion, from your mouth on down, are not addressed by loading up your diet with wood fibers. What if sluggish bowel movements prove unresponsive to such fibers? That’s when health care comes to the rescue with laxatives in a variety of forms, some irritative (phenolphthalein and senna), some lubricating (dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate), some osmotic (polyethylene glycol), some no different than spraying you down with a hose (enemas).”

We know that opiate drugs such as Oxycontin and morphine are commonly constipating. There’s even a new drug being widely advertised to “treat” the constipation side-effect of opiates, Relistor, or methylnaltrexone, an opiate-blocker that requires injection and costs around $700 per month. Recall that the gliadin protein of wheat and related proteins in other grains (e.g., secalin in rye) are partially digested to peptides that have opiate (“opioid”) properties, including binding to the opiate receptors in the human intestine. Wheat and grains therefore contain a disrupter of intestinal motility, slowing the normal rhythmic peristalsis, or muscular propulsive activity, that leads to retaining the digestive remains of food in your intestines for days to weeks.

Yes, you could take an opiate-blocking drug to block the effect of gliadin-derived opioid peptides . . . or you could simply not ingesting foods that yields such opioids: wheat and grains.

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