Constipation And Obesity
( Originally Published 1929 )
FAT people as a rule are constipated bipeds. The fact that they are fat presupposes an abuse of starches and sugars and a disuse of fodder foods—the use of the former and the disuse of the latter producing colonic lethargy. The inactivity of the obese also induces constipation.
The longer food remains in the colon the more nutriment and fluid are absorbed, both influencing the scales unfavorably. Constipation may exist even though the obese subject eats plenty of high residue or fodder foods. There is no enzyme in the human subject which digests cellulose, but it has been shown that bacteria in the colon have the ability of converting the cellulose into sugar--a fact rarely considered even by experts in nutrition.
Certain fat individuals owe their constipation to too perfect a digestion, that is, they digest and absorb too efficiently all the nutriment from their food, thus leaving too little residue in the colon.
The cure for constipation of the obese, four times out of five, follows in the wake of the cure of the obesity, inasmuch as high residue foods, fodder vegetables such as cabbage, spinach, lettuce, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and greens of all kinds, have low nutritive value other than their contained vitamins and mineral salts and leave a large amount of undigested material in the colon to stimulate peristalsis.
The flabby abdomen of the obese prevents the adequate intra-abdominal pressure which starts the defecation reflex.
Many of the reducing mixtures on the market contain substances which act on the bowels.
All purgatives and cathartics tend to reduce weight inasmuch as they hurry the food through the small and large intestines before complete absorption of the nutritive material takes place. This is harmful for two reasons (r) it produces what we call peristaltic fatigue, a heretofore neglected fatigue factor which may become subjective and thus explains some of the weakness of the obese, (2) it hastens undigested food to the colon where its partial digestion to proteoses or peptones makes it a favorable culture medium for toxin forming bacteria. The frequent taking of cathartics may thus lead to the production of colitis with all its dire consequences.