A Silent Killer - The
War On Constipation!

By Dr. Jennifer Daniels
War, poverty, disease, and ignorance are just a few of the many worries and overt threats that preoccupy us and often times cause pain and suffering to ourselves and the people we love. Unfortunately it seems that every time we conquer one problem and inoculate ourselves from a given danger, dozens more reveal themselves and we are back to square one or worse.
Threats will continue to amass, which is a given. But our ability and power to deal with the challenges we face is the dynamic variable or secret weapon that entirely depends upon us. Even if we are well-equipped with effective strategies and alert minds, and can deal with various adverse conditions as they arise, our preparedness is only at 50% if we do not have a sound and properly functioning internal system. In the ensuing battles, not only will effective tactics and reflexes of the mind be needed, but even more important will be the internal condition of our physical bodies, as the combined duo of a healthy physical and mental state will substantially increase our chances of success when faced with the toxic and emotional challenges that lie ahead. Some say we are a nation of a thousand illnesses and disorders, when we are in fact a nation of immense potential and a few problems that unfortunately spawn many ailments. One of the problems or bottlenecks to better internal health that must be addressed on a large scale due to it's heightened prevalence across our nation, is constipation, a danger that lurks in the shadows and affects over 70% of Americans.
Stated bluntly, anyone who is not having at least 2 bowel movements a day is constipated. Yes, at least 2 (optimally 3) bowel movements a day are vital for optimal health!
Are you constipated right now? Whether you are occasionally constipated or suffer from chronic constipation, as 40% of Americans do, there's absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, as many of your peers are in the same boat. Drop everything and pay attention, for it's time to look at ways we can address this problem. First let's review why constipation can be such a pain in the behind and how it leads to progressively worse or more dangerous conditions if it isn't resolved.
The transit time for all foods in your system should be 16 hours. So if you're interested in testing your digestive timing, ingest some corn and time how long it takes to appear in your stool. The time from ingestion to the time the corn ceases to appear in your stool is the true transit time. To the extent that the interval is greater than 16 hours, you are constipated and waste products are remaining in your body long enough to cause disease.
Major danger can arise when we add meat products to a poorly functioning or constipated system. Red meat that stays in the system for over 16 hours begins to putrefy and becomes toxic. Not only will this create discomfort and intense odor, but food that putrefies in the stomach, colon, or intestines creates a breeding ground for viruses, bacteria, and tumors.
The toxins and diseases that arise from a constipated system aren't the only reasons for concern. In addition to cancer, heart disease, diverticulitis, IBS, obesity, arthritis and a plethora of other conditions that have some link to constipation, the energy and straining required to relieve a clogged system can cause heart attacks, hemorrhoids, a ballooning of the intestinal wall, and can negatively affect the prostate.
According to various reports of the autopsies of two of our nation's most beloved personalities, upon their passing, John Wayne was found to have at least 40 lbs of fecal matter in his colon, and Elvis was found to have 60 lbs. Neither stardom nor wishful thinking can protect us from this current endemic. We must take action!
I have often advised a complete overhaul of the diets and lifestyles that cause constipation. Increasing water (at least six 8-oz glasses per day), fiber (31 grams), and 30 minutes or more of exercise a day can help to move waste material through the body. Unfortunately many of the ingrained habits and firmly held routines of most sufferers make it difficult to achieve an optimal working system and prevent the dire consequences of constipation. Amazingly, rather than altering their nutritional intake and making the needed lifestyle changes, many Americans have adopted the use of laxatives to solve their constipation. This is an incomplete solution as most laxatives work only at the level of the colon and do not address the poor circulation, poor liver and gallbladder functions which cause symptoms such as sluggishness and fatigue.
Because many people have trouble consuming the water needed, and refuse to resort to enemas, I often suggest incorporating Vitality capsules into their lives as a daily internal cleanser that does not interfere with their everyday obligations. This is a formula that I have worked on over the years, which is an herbal blend that improves the functioning of our internal organs and circulation, as well as boosts energy levels. These vegetarian capsules target constipation and toxic environments in many ways thanks to the unique herbal blend of ginger, cape aloe, garlic, cascara sagrada, cayenne pepper, barberry root, and senna leaf, which have solved the constipation woes of many of my friends, family members and patients for years. Of course, if taking natural supplements or organic herbs isn't your cup of tea, and you still want to be free of constipation, then it's most often necessary to adhere to a disciplined array of lifestyle changes, such as consuming more water and fiber, adopting a more regular sleep cycle, minimizing meat intake, and increasing your current levels of daily exercise.
Remember, that regardless of what regimen you follow in your fight against constipation, the decision to get better is solely up to you. But know that once you decide to get better, your march to better health will become easier and more rewarding every day. The road to 100% preparedness starts now!
1 quart of distilled water
2 tbs lemon juice
1 cup pitted prunes, cut in half
1 tsp cinnamon
Put all ingredients except lemon juice in a pot. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in lemon juice. Eat as is or spoon over oatmeal as a sweetener.
I used this recipe when cooking for the students of the Guru. Meditation students did a lot of deep breathing which caused constipation due to water loss. They also sat for extended periods of time which caused constipation due to inactivity. This particular side dish/condiment kept many a devotee comfortable and tastes best with organic ingredients!
How The Ingredients Work:
The water provides lubrication necessary for movement. The lemon juice is a mild astringent which tones and strengthens the intestines. It is also a mild antiseptic and loosens the material from the intestines. Prunes provide the bulk or fiber and stimulation to move the intestines. While the cinnamon is a stimulant it also creates a sense of well-being.
A spoonful of this recipe brings a relaxed smile to one's face.
Please stay tuned for my next article, where I will investigate the linkages between constipation and depression. Please visit and join my mailing list to receive free weekly recipes and health advice.
Jennifer Daniels, M.D., M.B.A is a graduate of Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and the Wharton School of Business. Dr. Daniels loves receiving email, so feel free to drop her a line at
From David Brandt
I'm a vegan going on over a year now, with all the benefits that have come with it (thanks!--you were instrumental in "scaring" me into a far healthier way of life). I had a surgery recently for an inguinal hernia, and I read the article on constipation and red meat staying in the intestines. After the surgery, there was what can only be described as what Dr. Daniels wrote about, perhaps because my intestines were lined up correctly. So even though I have not consumed any animal products in over a year, some still remained FOR THAT LONG! I cannot emphasize enough how very unhealthy that is.




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