This section of the book is from the "How and When to Be Your Own Doctor" book, by Dr. Isabelle A. Moser with Steve Solomon, published in 1997.
Most people think they are not constipated because they have a bowel movement almost every day, accomplished without straining. I have even had clients tell me that they have a bowel movement once a week, and they are quite certain that they are not constipated. The most surprising thing to novice fasters is that repeated enemas or colonics during fasting begins to release many pounds of undeniably real, old, caked fecal matter and/or huge mucus strings. The first-time faster can hardly believe these were present. These old fecal deposits do not come out the first time one has enemas or necessarily the fifth time. And all of them will not be removed by the tenth enema. But over the course of extended fasting or a long spell of light raw food eating with repeated daily enemas, amazing changes do begin to occur. It seems that no one who has eaten a civilized diet has escaped the formation of caked deposits lining the colon's walls, interfering with its function. This material does not respond to laxatives or casually administered enemas.
Anyone who has not actually seen (and smelled) what comes out of an "average" apparently healthy person during colonics will really believe it could happen or can accurately imagine it. Often there are dark black lumpy strings, lumps, or gravel, evil smelling discs shaped like sculpted hemispheres similar to the pockets lining the wall of the colon itself. These discs are rock-hard and may come out looking like long black braids. There may also be long tangled strings of gray/brown mucous, sheets and flakes of mucous, and worse yet, an occasional worm (tape worm) or many smaller ones. Once confronted however, it is not hard to imagine how these fecal rocks and other obnoxious debris interfere with the proper function of the colon. They make the colon's wall rigid and interfere with peristalsis thus leading to further problems with constipation, and interfere with adsorption of nutrients.
Our modern diet is by its "de-"nature, very constipating. In the trenches of the First World War, cheese was given the name 'chokem ass' because the soldiers eating this as a part of their daily ration developed severe constipation. Eaten by itself or with other whole foods, moderate amounts of cheese may not produce health problems in people who are capable of digesting dairy products. But cheese when combined with white flour becomes especially constipating. White bread or most white-flour crackers contain a lot of gluten, a very sticky wheat protein that makes the bread bind together and raise well. But white flour is lacking the bran, where most of the fiber is located. And many other processed foods are missing their fiber.
In an earlier chapter I briefly showed how digestion works by following food from the mouth to the large intestine. To fully grasp why becoming constipated is almost a certainty in our civilization a few more details are required. Food leaving the small intestine is called chyme, a semi-liquid mixture of fiber, undigested bits, indigestible bits, and the remains of digestive enzymes. Chyme is propelled through the large intestine by muscular contractions. The large intestine operates on what I dub the "chew chew train" principle, where the most recent meal you ate enters the large intestine as the caboose (the last car of a train) and helps to push out the train engine (the car at the front that toots), which in a healthy colon should represent the meal eaten perhaps twelve hours earlier. The muscles in the colon only contract when they are stretched, so it is the volume of the fecal matter stretching the large intestine that triggers the muscles to push the waste material along toward the rectum and anus.
Eating food lacking fiber greatly reduces the volume of the chyme and slows peristalsis. But moving through fast or slow, the colon still keeps on doing another of its jobs, which is to transfer the water in the chime back into the bloodstream, reducing dehydration. So the longer chime remains in the colon, the dryer and harder and stickier it gets. That's why once arrived at the "end of the tracks" fecal matter should be evacuated in a timely manner before it gets to dry and too hard to be moved easily. Some constipated people do have a bowel movement every day but are evacuating the meal eaten many days or even a week previously.
Most hygienists believe that when the colon becomes lined with hardened fecal matter it is permanently and by the very definition of the word itself, constipated. This type of constipation is not perceived as an uncomfortable or overly full feeling or a desire to have a bowel movement that won't pass. But it has insidious effects. Usually constipation delays transit time, increasing the adsorption of toxins generated from misdigestion of food; by coating and locking up significant portions of colon it also reduces the adsorption of certain minerals and electrolytes.
Sometimes, extremely constipated people have almost constant runny bowels because the colon has become so thickly and impenetrably lined with old fecal matter that it no longer removes much moisture. This condition is often misinterpreted as diarrhea. The large intestine's most important task is to transfer water-soluble minerals from digested food to the blood. When a significant part of the colon's surface becomes coated with impermeable dried rigid fecal matter or mucus it can no longer assimilate effectively and the body begins to experience partial mineral starvation in the presence of plenty. It is my observation from dozens of cases that when the colon has been effectively cleansed the person has a tendency to gain weight while eating amounts of food that before only maintained body weight, while people who could not gain weight or who were wasting away despite eating heavily begin to gain. And problems like soft fingernails, bone loss around teeth or porous bones tend to improve.