Over the last 15 years, I have seen an increase in the number of patients I care for with constipation. I think this is easily attributed to two major changes in our society over time. The first is the amount of processed food we eat on a daily basis. The second is the decrease in physical activity due to time constraints.
Our colon, or the bowel movement maker, relies on what we eat and how we exercise to function at its peak performance. The fresher and more fiber-filled our food, the better the colon works. The job of the colon is to remove liquid from the stool to make it more formed. If you didn’t have a colon, our stool or bowel movements (BMs) would be diarrhea. So, if what enters the colon is sticky; like bread, potatoes, pasta, crackers, chips, and processed cereal, then the harder the BM will be. If what enters the colon is more liquid, as in fruit and fiber-filled veggies, then the softer the BM will be. Water also plays an important role in keeping the stool soft.
Food moves through our colon better if we exercise. The more we sit and watch TV, the less the colon wants to move. The longer BM’s stay in the colon, the harder they will become. So, the message is to get up and move to wake up the colon and move things out.
So if your children are having constipation issues, they must cut back on the starchy carbohydrates like pasta, rice and bread and increase the color in their foods with broccoli, apples, sweet potatoes, and oranges (and many, many other options). Also, turn off the TV and push them outside to play or dance or hike or bike. Drink some water along the way! Before long, the colon will be healthier and your child will be healthier too.
Dr. Katrina Hood