THE C-WORD

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If a rabbit doesn't eat enough high-fiber foods, its teeth may grow uncontrollably, piercing the roof of its mouth and knifing the base of its brain.

Your brain is safe, but there's no such surety about the rest of your body. Skip the fiber and you extend an open invitation to several different cancers. You also raise your risk of diabetes and heart disease by up to 20 and 40 percent, respectively, say some scientists.

And in the "fate-worse-than-death category", you increase the odds that you'll end up fat and impotent. So while you may not die like a bunny rabbit, you won't be doing it like one, either.

See, we haven't even mentioned the c-word (constipation).

But even if you have the will to eat more fiber, you almost certainly don't have the way. Especially since the recommended daily dosage was recently raised from 25 to a throat-choking 38 grams.

The obvious solution — eating 19 slices of whole-wheat bread a day — isn't practical. What you need instead is subterfuge. Dietary deception. In other words, this plan for smuggling more roughage into your life, and bidding adieu to flatulence and Co. once and for all.

So what causes constipation?

Not everyone can go to the toilet every day.

Constipation is generally considered to constitute less than three stools per week. Action is warranted if the feces are hard and the evacuation irregular and uh, painful.

In Western Europe, the most frequent reason for constipation is insufficient filling of the bowel as a result of a low-fiber diet; in Switzerland, for instance, the average daily intake of dietary fiber is only about 20 g. Further contributory factors can be an inadequate liquid intake, lack of exercise, a hectic lifestyle and stress. It therefore makes little sense to combat constipation with laxatives or cold milk.

Role of dietary fiber (roughage) in constipation

Time to zoom "in". The contents of the intestine are transported periodically by intestinal contractions. These movements depend to a large extent on the degree to which the bowel is full, i.e. the stimuli to contract and expand are only triggered when the bowel (or large intestine) is sufficiently full. In the small intestine, the nutrients capable of being broken down are digested and absorbed beforehand. The dietary fibers, which are only partially - if at all - degradable, then reach the large intestine, where they turn to sludge. Thanks to the ability of these fibers to swell and bind water, the water content of the food in the intestine increases. However, this means that sufficient liquid needs to be absorbed.

A relatively soft stool of relatively large volume is the desired result; the stimulus which this exerts on the walls of the large intestine promotes intestinal activity and provides for a regular stool.

Which foods contain dietary fiber?

Most dietary fiber comes from whole meal products, such as whole meal bread, whole rice, corn, whole-wheat pasta, and flakes. These are preferable to refined products (e.g. white bread, polished rice) and should be included as part of the daily menu.

Pulses, including lentils of all kinds, potatoes, vegetables, fruits and assorted nuts are another plentiful source of necessary dietary fiber.

Start eating fiber rich foods gradually and in moderation. Turn aggressive too soon and we're looking at a 'whole' new problem. Trust us, it won't be pretty!

Furthermore, nothing soothes a constricted intestine better than gravity. So, forget Jimmy Fallon after dinner and slot-in a 30-minute post-dinner walk. And no, its not a stroll down the neighborhood park. Walk fast and steady, making yourself breath heavier as you move.

That though, is a minimum. Regular activity has been proven to enhance metabolism and improves overall well-being, thus regulating your insides.

As you "digest" the guidelines given above, we'll work on an exciting sequel. So look out for our next post which will provide specific food selection and exact quantities that will enable you to maintain a jam-free inner environment, at the same time making you glow with health.

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