This section is from the book "Diseases Of The Intestines", by Max Einhorn. Also available from Amazon: Diseases Of The Intestines A Text-Book For Practitioners And Students Of Medicine.
The principles of diet are fully described in my book on the stomach. Here I will add a few remarks referring to the dietetic treatment of intestinal diseases. As in the case of the stomach, acute intestinal disorders lasting a few days or weeks must be managed according to the principle of rest. Very scanty and light foods (mostly liquid) should be given. In chronic ailments of the intestines the principle of rest may also be utilized occasionally for a short time, while as a general rule we should bear in mind the necessity of introducing sufficient quantities of food and gradually accustoming the intestinal tract to the ordinary foods.
1 B. Bienstock: " Ueber die Bacterien der Faeces. " Zeitschr. f. klin. Med., Bd. 8. 1884.
2 H. Nothnagel: "Die normal in dem Menscbendarm vorkommenden niedersten (pflanzlichen) Organismen." Zeitschr. f. klin. Med., Bd. 3, 1881.
In some instances it is possible to exert a wholesome influence upon the disturbances of the intestine by appropriate dietetic measures. This applies especially to disorders accompanied by constipation or by diarrhoea.
I. Articles of diet which increase the intestinal peristalsis or "laxative foods" are the following: Most fruits, both' raw and cooked, and fruit juices increase the peristalsis in consequence of the organic acids which they contain, as apples, pears, plums, peaches, strawberries, gooseberries, dates, and figs. Most salads and garden vegetables also increase peristalsis, firstly, owing to the large amount of water they contain, and secondly, owing to the considerable residue which is left undigested, as, for instance, melons, cucumbers, tomatoes, pumpkins, all kinds of cabbage. By many of the latter foods the peristaltic action of the intestine is also increased on account of the formation of acid and gaseous products. Fresh beer, cider, bonny-clabber, and kumyss act in a similar manner. Cold drinks of plain water or carbonated water act as mild aperients in some instances. Here a reflex action upon intestinal peristalsis due to irritation must be assumed, for often a movement of the bowels follows very soon (a quarter of an hour to one hour) after drinking.
II. Articles of diet which diminish the intestinal peristalsis or "constipating foods": (1) All substances containing a considerable portion of astringent agents, particularly tannic acid, as, for instance, dried bilberries, French red wines (particularly San Rafael wines), tea, cacao, the acorn preparations like acorn coffee, acorn cacao. (2) Foods which have a mucilaginous character and thus somewhat allay irritation also have a slightly constipating effect: sago, tapioca, barley, rice. (3) Foods which leave no residue whatever or very little residue, and thus exert no irritation. To these belong egg water (prepared by dissolving the white of an egg in some water), scraped raw meat, mutton broth.
Some foods manifest different action in different individuals. Thus, for instance, milk is constipating in one person and laxative in another, while in still others it has no special effect upon intestinal peristalsis.
Most foods have no marked influence upon the intestinal peristalsis. To these belong most kinds of meat and fish not too highly seasoned, the various meat powders, and most artificial foods like meat peptone and nutrose, eucasin, somatose, sanose, eggs prepared in different ways, well-baked bread, wheaten or rye bread, crackers, zwieback, fats in small amounts, especially butter. The preparation of the foods has an important bearing with regard to its action upon the intestinal peristalsis. The finer the foods are the less irritating they will act, and the coarser the particles the greater the irritation they produce upon the intestinal muscular layer. Highly seasoned foods also act as a stimulant of the peristalsis.
In some severe conditions of the intestines the ordinary way of ingestion of food must be avoided for a short period. Here artificial feeding is employed. Artificial feeding can be done in two different ways: rectal alimentation and subcutaneous alimentation.