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Why tracking your poop can save your life.

Most of us get less than half the recommended minimum daily fibre intake, which is problematic as the benefits of fibre go way beyond bowel regularity.

Poop is taboo Even though a condition like constipation can have a major impact on physical, mental and social well-being, it’s often overlooked in health care. This may be because poop-talk is taboo, but constipation can have a severe influence on everyday living, both psychologically and physically.


Constipation can literally hurt, causing abdominal discomfort and pain, straining, hard stool, infrequent bowel movements, bloating and nausea.


Overmedicated Laxatives are among the most commonly used drugs. Most are quite safe when used judiciously, intermittently, but because people use them so frequently, laxatives end up being one of the most common causes of adverse drug reactions.

Root causes are the answer Treatment should instead address the underlying problem that causes constipation, such as lack of dietary fibre. In the Western world, constipation is an epidemic among the elderly, but among those centering their diets around fibre-rich foods, it’s simply not a problem.

Where do we find it The answer is whole, unrefined plant foods, but fruits and leafy vegetables are the poorest source of plant fibre because they’re 90 percent water.


Root vegetables have more fibre, but the real superstars include legumes, such as beans, split peas, chickpeas, lentils, and whole grains.




Fruit

Gram for gram, fibre from fruits does not seem to have the same effect. It may take 25 grams of fruit fibre to double stool output, something just 10 grams of whole-grain fibre or vegetable fibre can do.

Inflammation

Fibre releases butyrate into our bloodstream, a compound that seems to exert broad anti-inflammatory activities.


Researchers found that significant decreases in the prevalence of inflammation were associated with increasing dietary fibre intakes.



Chronic disease Researchers found that, compared with those who consumed the least amount of fibre, those who consumed the most had

  • 23 percent less cardiovascular disease mortality

  • 17 percent lower risk of dying from cancer

  • 23 percent lower mortality from all causes put together.

Pain


In a landmark study that followed thousands of patients, researchers found that a high intake of dietary fibre, was associated with a lower risk of developing moderate or severe knee pain over time, and two Framingham studies found that higher fibre intake was related to a lower risk of having symptomatic osteoarthritis in the first place.

Key Takeaways

  1. Constipation can severely influence daily life, impacting physical, mental and social well-being, but is often overlooked in health care.

  2. Given that constipation can cause abdominal discomfort and pain, straining, hard stool, infrequent bowel movements, bloating and nausea, it isn’t surprising that laxatives are one of the most commonly used drugs—and one of the most common causes of adverse drug reactions.

  3. Dietary fibre increases stool frequency in individuals with constipation.

  4. In Western countries, constipation is an epidemic among the elderly, but it simply isn’t a problem for people who centre their diets around fibre-rich foods.

  5. Fruits and vegetables are 90 percent water, so they are the poorest source of plant fibre. Root vegetables are better, but legumes and whole grains are fibre superstars.

  6. The minimum recommended intake has been associated with a lower risk of developing moderate or severe knee pain over time, and two Framingham studies found higher fibre consumption was related to lower risk of having symptomatic osteoarthritis in the first place.

  7. Compared with those who consumed the least amount of fibre, those who consumed the most had 23 percent less cardiovascular disease mortality, a 17 percent lower risk of dying from cancer, and 23 percent lower mortality from all causes put together.

  8. Bearing down as if straining on stool, people can experience a rapid increase in pressure inside the skull, which is one of the biggest trigger factors for the rupture of intracranial aneurysms.


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