2

votes

Hack my mother's chronic constipation.

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 09, 2012 at 11:10 PM

My mum has been watching me go on my paleo adventure for the last two months. She's said that there's more colour to my face, seen me become happier, more positive, and listened to me rant about my awesome poop, but still believes in 'moderation' when it comes to herself. She's going through menopause, takes pills to sleep at night, has had high blood pressure for much of her life, awful back pain after she injured herself lifting a washing machine, and recently she's noticed an inability to digest certain foods, like white breads or red muscle meats.

I really want to explore this with her but she is hesistant. She says that there is nothing to do because her blood tests come back fine and she looks healthy. The doctor's still don't know what causes her bowel pains, and I honestly don't know either, but I suspect her symptoms could be eliviated by cutting out the grains, removing the jarred curries with vegetable oils and concentrating on healthy fats, bone broths, and organ meats. I've got her convinced to use butter and olive oil combined instead of margarine, and to start frying with olive oil instead of vegetable (the saturated fat thing still frightens her).

Am I being bossy about this? She says that bowel troubles are common for a woman her age (46), especially during menopause. What are some mum-friendly foods that I can encourage her to consume, and resources that might convince her to drop the more harmful stuff she is convinced is benign? (I could be wrong, though- maybe the bread really doesn't do her harm. But I think it's important to see if it makes a difference without it...)

Thanks a billion for your help. It's painful to see loved ones go through this stuff and just accept is as a normal part of aging!

Just wanted to add what my mum actually eats: Whole grains, chocolates/cakes/white breads three/four times a month, chicken breast, jarred curries, sausages with gluten and soy and all that stuff, pre-marinated chicken with rubbishy ingredients, vegetables, fruits, tea with a bit of honey and milk, ground beef (difficult for her), breaded fish fried in olive oil, breaded meatballs. She's not big on eating out or buying from vending machines so a lot of the worse stuff is out of her diet.

Edit: Hi folks. I am going to compile what I think are the most critical suggestions listed here, and see if she'd like to experiment. If she does, I'll let you know what happened later on. Thank you everybody!

427016b70156ae53719ccaec6d68aec0

on March 21, 2012
at 12:02 AM

Can you get her to eat more prunes and/or sweet potatoes microwaved in their jackets & eaten with dips? Those two foods are good for increasing the volume & softness of poo. Epsom Salts taken in higher doses (e.g. a teaspoonful a day dissolved in juice) works like Lactulose (osmotic), but provides Magnesium, something that many people are deficient in. http://nigeepoo.blogspot.com/2009/01/magnesium-just-as-important-as-calcium.html

C513f1dba19e01bbd7e0f4f12b243a97

(670)

on March 16, 2012
at 08:33 AM

Thanks Nigel. They did have a look but say she fine, and to take laxatives (my gut feeling is this is doing more harm than good, even if it is a temporary solution). It's very frustrating to watch :( I will take note of your recommendations!

D31a2a2d43191b15ca4a1c7ec7d03038

(4134)

on March 11, 2012
at 02:32 PM

I have to be deliberate about caring for that quiet, both inside and out. I wish you all the best. :)

D31a2a2d43191b15ca4a1c7ec7d03038

(4134)

on March 11, 2012
at 02:31 PM

Medis, thank you for your kind comment. I, too, find stress very hard to recover from, and that disturbs my digestion and elimination. I just tell folks that I avoid sweets, starches, and packaged foods with additives, and such. I find that older people accept that easily. I find the word "paleo", except here at Paleohacks, is not a useful or helpful word to use. I also avoid listening to the radio, except for a tiny bit of news, or weather reports, and rarely watching tv, helps. Some of us need calm and an atmosphere which is restorative, more than others.

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on March 11, 2012
at 09:39 AM

GELATIN!! Muscle meat does not cause constipation due to HCL ... Veggies only make things worse.

8508fec4bae4a580d1e1b807058fee8e

(6244)

on March 11, 2012
at 04:49 AM

must eliminate the grains - wheat is very constipating to me.

C513f1dba19e01bbd7e0f4f12b243a97

(670)

on March 10, 2012
at 11:51 PM

I like this answer as it looks at all the aspects of wellbeing :) Stress is something that my ma deals with a lot because she is sensitive to stressful life situations. Concentrating more on animal products like egg yolks, fats and broths was helpful to me and avoids the discomfort of eating red meat every day! I think if I don't call it 'paleo', she might be interested. I'll write these suggestions and see if there's any she'd be interested in trying. Thank you!

C513f1dba19e01bbd7e0f4f12b243a97

(670)

on March 10, 2012
at 11:48 PM

That's very encouraging (congrats on your success)! My mum has always had awful time with menopause but just can't make the connect between lifestyle and the crazy symptoms.

C513f1dba19e01bbd7e0f4f12b243a97

(670)

on March 10, 2012
at 11:45 PM

Hehe! Wonderful. My mother definitely finds it hard to take advice from me, even about commonsense things. I know that she doesn't need to, and that folks will do what they will, and that's okay. I can't help but feel that in the right light I could really make this lifestyle change appealing for her, and she might come to be grateful for it later. But it's always difficult because people expect things to work quickly- I know I did- and it can make you feel like diet isn't that critical and you are just 'sick' and you can't fix it.

Af939911afa817f79a4625d4f503c735

(552)

on March 10, 2012
at 10:12 AM

1) Just because something is common, that doesn't mean it's normal. Digestive and elimination issues can absolutely be corrected with diet in most cases. 2) You have "Powdered Butt Syndrome". Once someone has powdered your butt, they can't take advice from you. I have the same problem with my family. I have gotten numerous friends on board, but my family just keeps telling me how great I look and eating their crap.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on March 10, 2012
at 03:53 AM

The number one source of fiber in American's diet's is coffee. Interesting little factoid.

C4134ed417dbc0a6b79ab2cee32632d3

(1801)

on March 10, 2012
at 12:25 AM

Caffeine in a cup of coffee makes me go. Tea doesn't. Definitely the coffee though!

Medium avatar

(19469)

on March 10, 2012
at 12:10 AM

I'm just glad the question was not "hack my mother's vagina"

C513f1dba19e01bbd7e0f4f12b243a97

(670)

on March 09, 2012
at 11:28 PM

Thanks Nance. However I don't think that's the issue- she does eat vegetables and fruits regularly. She also eats meats sometimes but usually gets constipated. I'm wondering why she gets constipated from muscle meats and whether that's normal. I mean certainly if that's all one was eating, but it's getting to the point where she feels like she needs meat but can't digest it...

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10 Answers

best answer

1
D31a2a2d43191b15ca4a1c7ec7d03038

on March 10, 2012
at 01:11 AM

Many of us older women find that certain foods don't sit well, and are hard to digest and/or eliminate.

Some things which have helped me:

Food related:

Eating more egg yolks now, more offal and less muscle meat. (Encouraging your mother to eat food with the most nutrients and not the refined, processed packaged "stuff" will help many aspects of health and well-being.)

Making yoghurt from a mixture of heavy whipping cream and half-and-half sits very well with me.

No nuts, seeds, or their oils. I eat only animal fats: beef, butter, cream.

Reducing cheese intake to less than 3 ounces per day.

Avoiding almost all fiber improved my digestion and elimination a great deal. I still eat some plant matter, but not much, and definitely nothing with much fiber.

Small meals, following Dr. Richard Bernstein's Law of Small Numbers. Here is the link to his site:

http://www.diabetes-book.com/index.shtml

Pinpointing foods I had reactions to, and eliminating them: FODMAPs, for example.

Using an elimination diet to find those foods: FailSafe helped me greatly.


Other things which have helped digestion and elimination:

Yoga for seniors, taking walks, Callanetics, and gentle rebounding, have all improved muscle tone, "both inside and out". :)

Regular rest and sleep habits. Meditation, prayer, relaxation also help.

Supplements which fit my health needs. Among many other things, I take magnesium malate, and use the afibber recipe for magnesium water, which uses chilled seltzer water and milk of magnesia. I, too, take digestive enzymes.

This is a short list, as getting older and the efforts to be healthier and feel better are a major occupation for some of us. :)

All the best to you and your mother. I hope this helps a little. :)

C513f1dba19e01bbd7e0f4f12b243a97

(670)

on March 10, 2012
at 11:51 PM

I like this answer as it looks at all the aspects of wellbeing :) Stress is something that my ma deals with a lot because she is sensitive to stressful life situations. Concentrating more on animal products like egg yolks, fats and broths was helpful to me and avoids the discomfort of eating red meat every day! I think if I don't call it 'paleo', she might be interested. I'll write these suggestions and see if there's any she'd be interested in trying. Thank you!

D31a2a2d43191b15ca4a1c7ec7d03038

(4134)

on March 11, 2012
at 02:32 PM

I have to be deliberate about caring for that quiet, both inside and out. I wish you all the best. :)

D31a2a2d43191b15ca4a1c7ec7d03038

(4134)

on March 11, 2012
at 02:31 PM

Medis, thank you for your kind comment. I, too, find stress very hard to recover from, and that disturbs my digestion and elimination. I just tell folks that I avoid sweets, starches, and packaged foods with additives, and such. I find that older people accept that easily. I find the word "paleo", except here at Paleohacks, is not a useful or helpful word to use. I also avoid listening to the radio, except for a tiny bit of news, or weather reports, and rarely watching tv, helps. Some of us need calm and an atmosphere which is restorative, more than others.

2
408b32d0900853851167089d730f1881

on March 10, 2012
at 12:46 AM

I'm almost 50 and can echo the advice to begin taking a magnesium supplement before bedtime at minimum. (I would also encourage the rest of the suggestions here, but I know that sometimes you need to start with simple baby steps...)

Not only will it help with the constipation, but it has a bonus side effect: better sleep!

2
0faecc3397025eab246241f4dcd81f5e

(2361)

on March 10, 2012
at 12:09 AM

Time your mother took a leap of faith and just tried paleo!

I cut grains about 2 years ago and my constipation cleared up. Also what helps is taking a good dose of magnesium every day.

I'm older than your mum (52), also going through menopause. Many women find that menopause symptoms are reduced eating a paleo diet.

High blood pressure is always reduced on paleo - I've had several clients who can attest to this. Omega 3 will help pain, as will getting Vit D levels up to 50. Bone broths are amazing for joint pain. Magnesium will help sleep and constipation.

I feel SO good now, despite the fact I have suto-immune thyroid disease, am menopausal and previously suffered auto-immune joint inflammation.

As long as I eat paleo, do crossfit several times a week - eat lots of vegetables, take the supplements, I feel great. And I sleep like a log, despite a few hot flushes.

C513f1dba19e01bbd7e0f4f12b243a97

(670)

on March 10, 2012
at 11:48 PM

That's very encouraging (congrats on your success)! My mum has always had awful time with menopause but just can't make the connect between lifestyle and the crazy symptoms.

1
C4134ed417dbc0a6b79ab2cee32632d3

(1801)

on March 10, 2012
at 12:29 AM

I noticed when we cut dairy my DDs stools softened up. Weirdly, her little school friend has chronic constipation - or did. I told her mum about dairy causing constipation in my DD & it seems that it was the same culprit with my DDs friend...

It seems that quite a few children suffer constipation from dairy. Not sure if this transfers over to adults, but it may GE worth a shot?

Wheat (from anecdotal accounts) seems to make poop a bit sloppy.

1
A5a835105e726e61d61077e84522a045

(130)

on March 10, 2012
at 12:05 AM

I don't know about other people, but coffee and black tea with heavy cream seem to keep me regular. That wouldn't be a solution by itself, but maybe it's something to consider in addition to other changes in diet.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on March 10, 2012
at 03:53 AM

The number one source of fiber in American's diet's is coffee. Interesting little factoid.

C4134ed417dbc0a6b79ab2cee32632d3

(1801)

on March 10, 2012
at 12:25 AM

Caffeine in a cup of coffee makes me go. Tea doesn't. Definitely the coffee though!

1
41dfb1a4fecb38d24075ff52f13ccb28

on March 09, 2012
at 11:37 PM

If she's getting constipated on muscle meats, perhaps she has low stomach acid and isn't digesting them fully? Has she tried a Betaine HCL supplement about 30 minutes after eating?

1
96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on March 09, 2012
at 11:16 PM

Well, please tell your mom I am 65 and have no problems with constipation.

She may be familiar with the term "roughage." Processed foods don't provide any. Vegetables and whole fruits do. End of story. Without whole plant foods I DO get constipated, until I have a salad or a grapefruit and the next day the problem is gone.

C513f1dba19e01bbd7e0f4f12b243a97

(670)

on March 09, 2012
at 11:28 PM

Thanks Nance. However I don't think that's the issue- she does eat vegetables and fruits regularly. She also eats meats sometimes but usually gets constipated. I'm wondering why she gets constipated from muscle meats and whether that's normal. I mean certainly if that's all one was eating, but it's getting to the point where she feels like she needs meat but can't digest it...

0
55cacccadb701036d0c796595d37fa9a

(53)

on March 11, 2012
at 05:18 AM

Spinach is ideal in this situation. For the past few months, I'd been in extreme pain due to fecal impactions/constipation. Then I replaced my lunch (sardines/salmon/eggs) with spinach. It's done wonders.

0
8508fec4bae4a580d1e1b807058fee8e

on March 11, 2012
at 04:48 AM

http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?cat=121

Summary of PHD: 1) Antioxidant deficiency such as Vitamin C

2) Hypothyroidism - supplementing with selenium, magnesium, zinc, copper, iodine

3) Insufficient dietary fat and/or bile

4) Insufficient gut flora - supplement with probiotics, fermented veggies, maybe raw kefir/yogurt dairy if tolerated

5) Choline deficiency - choline found in liver and egg yolks

6) Hypercalcemia - excess calcium and/or Vitamin D

7) Gut Infections some antibiotics have reversed constipation from pathogenic bacteria

8) Overusing laxatives

0
427016b70156ae53719ccaec6d68aec0

on March 10, 2012
at 09:30 AM

It's worth asking for endoscopic examination. My sister became constipated (with gut pains) in her 50's. She had a large polyp (removed by endoscopy).

Otherwise, I second the use of Magnesium supps e.g. half a teaspoonful of Epsom Salts dissolved in a bit of juice.

C513f1dba19e01bbd7e0f4f12b243a97

(670)

on March 16, 2012
at 08:33 AM

Thanks Nigel. They did have a look but say she fine, and to take laxatives (my gut feeling is this is doing more harm than good, even if it is a temporary solution). It's very frustrating to watch :( I will take note of your recommendations!

427016b70156ae53719ccaec6d68aec0

on March 21, 2012
at 12:02 AM

Can you get her to eat more prunes and/or sweet potatoes microwaved in their jackets & eaten with dips? Those two foods are good for increasing the volume & softness of poo. Epsom Salts taken in higher doses (e.g. a teaspoonful a day dissolved in juice) works like Lactulose (osmotic), but provides Magnesium, something that many people are deficient in. http://nigeepoo.blogspot.com/2009/01/magnesium-just-as-important-as-calcium.html

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