Stedman’s Medical Dictionary (27th ed., Lippincott Williams & Wilkens, 2000) defines constipation as a condition in which bowel movements are infrequent or incomplete. While one movement per day might be considered ideal, any deviation requires further questioning. Most people believe constipation implies hard or painful bowel movements and not just frequency. Many believe a bowel movement every two or three days is normal and that even a bowel movement every four or five days is no cause for concern. The simple fact that it happens that way does not mean that it is normal.

Infrequent bowel movements indicate slow movement of fecal material through the intestine. The longer fecal material remains in the intestine, the more water will be reabsorbed making the stool drier and harder. This is the result of bacterial decomposition in the large intestine.

Slow movement also allows for autointoxication, as the waste products of bacterial and fungi/yeast must be absorbed into the blood, detoxified in the liver, and sent to the kidney for elimination. This is a burden on the body and the maintenance of health. The waste products formed in the bowel by bacterial or fungal action on inadequately digested food (i.e., food that could not be absorbed into the body and used for nourishment) cause an inflammatory reaction in the mucosal lining of the bowel. This triggers an immune response that is associated with the so-called “leaky gut syndrome” and fibromyalgia. These conditions have deservedly received a great deal of attention in the past few years; unfortunately, little is directed toward their association with poor digestion.

The usual recommendations to overcome constipation are to increase your water consumption and exercise. But, as anyone who frequently suffers from the problem can tell you – it seldom works. That is because the major cause of constipation is excessive food intake and poor digestion of that diet. In other words, constipation tends to perpetuate constipation!

Digestive and poor dietary choices are rarely considered to be direct causes of constipation. Yet, stomach acid deficiency can be directly related to inadequate protein intake, allowing much of the protein to pass into the large intestine. Stomach acid deficiency is also directly related to thickened bile and gallstone formation, which are directly related to poor bowel function.

In addition, stomach acid deficiency and inadequate protein digestion result in increased protein putrefaction in the bowel. The absorbed toxins produce many clinical problems. Extensive clinical outcome studies dating back over the last 100 years indicate bowel toxicity as a major causative factor in the most commonly seen health problems, including headaches as cited in Textbook of Medical Physiology (A. C. Guyton, 9thed., W. B. Saunders Co., 1986).