Why Americans Read in Bathrooms --The
Hidden Constipation Epidemic

Last updated January 22, 2017 (originally published February 21, 2008)

By Susan M. Callahan, Health Editor and Featured Columnist

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Go to any typical American home and peer into the bathroom. You
will find one item not found in the bathrooms of any other people on
earth.  
Reading material.

We read in bathrooms.  Magazines, newspapers, even books. Our
reading collections are so extensive that they have become
"Bathroom Libraries".  Why? Why do Americans find it pleasurable
or necessary to read in our bathrooms.

The reason is simple. We're in there
for a long time. A long, long,
time. So, to find out why we read, we have to look at the underlying
reason we need to spend so much time in there.

It turns out that Americans --
- many of us, maybe most of us --- are
constipated. A 2011 survey by United BioSource Corporation
estimated that 15.3% of men and 26.3% of women experience
chronic constipation. Canadians are also suffering. A 2012 study
from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada estimated that chronic
constipation affects as many as 27% of the population.
Although
men and women suffer from constipation, estimates are that women
suffer from the problem 2 to 3 times more than men.  Among the
elderly, between 50% and  70%
use laxatives every single day,
according to a 2011 study from Queen's University, London.


Constipation, defined as the need to strain when voiding our bowels
often accompanied by "depositing" small, hard marbles, is an
American affliction.  

Constipation can lead to hemorrhoids, anal tears and fissures, and
damage to the muscles and supportive tissues of your anus.

You know that bowels movements are
great indicators of your
overall  health. But do you know the 3 keys to healthy bowels?


Most people who have trouble with their bowels-- complaining of
constipation --do not know what normal bowel function feels like.
Many have been constipated since childhood.

How can this be?  The typical American diet, it turns out, almost
guarantees that we will become constipated.

To have normal bowel movements --defined as one or two
eliminations a day, with  soft, smooth-formed bolus (poop) -- you
need 3 things.

1. Water

2. Fiber

3. Oil

You need water so that the "deposit" can form properly in the small
intestines.  All of us at one point or another have deposited hard,
marbles.  This is not normal. Nor is it healthy if it continues.  The
small intestines are a factory in which our food is broken down and
nutrients are extracted and absorbed into the blood stream.  To do
its job, the small intestines work the food over and over as it travels
the long, 20-26 foot journey down the intestines.

The small intestines "work" the food by adding water to it to soften
it up, then hormones are added to break iyt down more, then
lubricants from the small intestines are added.  

The reason we need fiber is that fiber acts like a sponge. Fiber soaks
up the water we have drank forming little gel beads that can hold
many, many times more water than each gel size.  It sort of
multiplies the effect of drinking water.  When we've eaten enough
fiber, and thus have enough fiber gel beads in our small intestines,
the small intestines can complete their work very easily.

The final ingredient we need is oil.  And the best single source of oil
is mineral oil --if you are constipated. We need oil because the small
intestines use the oil to form the deposit and keep it smooth as it
makes it way down the 26 foot tunnel.  Without the oil, without the
water, the deposit gets hard and marble-sized or it sticks to the
walls.  The result is that we have to strain to push them out. That's
constipation.


Many Americans are constipated and don't know it.  They carry a
magazine in the bathroom to read because they know they will be
there a long time straining.

This is not the way the body was designed to work.  Remedy?


Food

Eat plenty of fiber rich food. The typical starchy American diet only
has about 5 grams of fiber each day. We need 25-30 grams each
day.

Water

Drink your 8 tall 8 ounce glasses each day. I know a lot of sources
say that any kind of fluid will do-- coffee,tea, sodas --but my
personal experience is that nothing works better than good, clean
water.

Oil

Eat the right kinds of oil, in moderation.  I once went on a very low
oil diet and ended up constipated.  Use olive oil (
it helps your body
in other ways too). If you get constipated, every now and then,
take a bit of mineral oil. I can still remember my wonderful Mom
giving us doses of the stuff.  We use to run from her. But the old
ways turn out to often be the best ways, right?

One of the best natural cures for constipation is found in Central
and South America. There, many people in small  pueblos soak 5 or
6  prunes in an 8 ounce glass of water at  room temperature over
night. Then, first thing in the morning, before they eat, they drink a
glass of the juice and eat the fruit. I've tried it and it works a lot
better for some reason than commercial prune juice. Maybe it's the
absence of preservatives.


Here is a list of
fiber-rich foods for your reference.






















































Find out more to improve your bowel health: Bowel Movements Tell
You About Your Overall Health/ Bowel Color-What Does It Mean/
IBS is on the Rise--Why?
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