Fasting

Fasting, which is sometimes prescribed as a reme-dial measure, necessarily leads to constipation, unless some preventive method is adopted. The use of the enema is not sufficient. Washing out of the colon can do nothing more than remove materials which have been deposited in it from the small intestine; and in fasting, the small intestine as well as the stomach is in a state of complete inactivity. Bile, mucus and other secretions, as well as poisonous excretions from the blood, are accumulating from day to day, but there is no peristaltic movement to carry them onward, because no food is taken into the stomach. From these facts it is evident that absolute fasting, except when made necessary by some intestinal trouble or other equally imperative exigency, is rarely likely to prove beneficial. As a general measure for purifying the blood, removing uric acid, or producing tissue renovation, it is never required. The prodigious claims that have been made for fasting as a means of physical regeneration, are in the highest degree misleading. Not a few people have done themselves irreparable damage by a prolonged fast. The benefit derived from fasting, except when made necessary by a surgical operation, hemorrhage from the stomach or bowels or some other emergency, is due to the withholding of protein and fats, so that the body has an opportunity to clear itself of "cinders" and other waste and toxic matters derived from foods rich in protein, especially meat and eggs. All these benefits may be obtained by the exclusive use of juicy fruits for a limited period, or better still, by the use of fruit of some kind with bran and some green vegetable, such as lettuce. By this means the food tube is supplied with the bulk necessary to maintain its rhythmical action. The acids and sugars of fruits are active in the same direction, while at the same time furnishing the body with the necessary fuel to maintain animal heat, and support its activities, so that it is not compelled to feed upon itself, as certain animals when starving bite and tear their own flesh, and suck their own blood.

The injury to which persons subject themselves by a long fast is similar to that resulting from a long fever; the conditions are really very similar. The appetite of the fasting person disappears on the third or fourth day, just as does that of the fever patient, and from the same cause, namely, the saturation of the tissues with toxins. In the case of a fasting person, the result of the absorption of poisons from the putrefying materials stored up in the inactive colon - foul breath and coated tongue - is evidence of this autointoxication, and not of a process of body purification. The foul breath and coated tongue are the result of a growth of bacteria in the mouth and the intestines, which is encouraged by the lowered vital resistance resulting from abstinence. The clearing of the tongue that occurs in many cases in from two to four weeks, is likewise comparable to the clearing of the tongue in typhoid fever, in about the same time, which results from the development of immunity against the bacteria and bacterial poisons to which the body is exposed. In the case of the fasting person, clearing of the tongue may be induced by the taking of food.

The coated tongue does not occur in a "protein" fast, such as has been above described.

Obesity

In the treatment of obesity not due to disease of the glands of internal secretion, restriction of the quantity of food is essential; unless care is taken, this naturally leads to constipation - a very common result of dieting to reduce flesh. This effect of reduced diet is aggravated by the sweating which results from the hot baths administered, as well as from the vigorous exercise required. Constipation may be avoided in these cases by not diminishing the bulk of the food intake while reducing its food value. Indeed, it is an advantage to increase the bulk. The free use of green vegetables is especially indicated in obesity, as a means of preventing constipation.

Condiments

Mustard, pepper, pepper sauce, cayenne, capsicum, horseradish, and the whole list of hot, irritating substances which are frequently added to food as seasoning, having no food value in themselves, are active causes of constipation. These substances produce, at first irritation, and later on catarrh of the stomach and intestines, leading to gastritis enteritis, and colitis, and ultimately to degeneration of the gastric glands. The consequence is loss of the normal reflex activity, to which the peristaltic movements are due. But the worst effects of condiments are to be seen in the lower part of the small intestine and in the colon. Condiments being indigestible, become more and more concentrated as the food substances with which they are eaten are absorbed, and hence their effects are seen in a very pronounced degree at the extreme lower end of the small intestine, and in the colon where the food residues accumulate before passing on to the cecum through the ileocecal valve. When the irritating mass is pushed through the ileocecal valve, each successive portion falls at once upon the floor of the cecum, so that this small area, to which is attached the appendix, receives, so to speak, the concentrated fire of these enemies of good digestion. The resulting irritation in the meantime results in infection, upon which follows colitis, and not infrequently acute and chronic appendicitis, affections which are both a consequence of chronic constipation.

The concentrated residues of the food stuffs, including the indigestible particles of mustard, pepper, or other condiment taken with the food, brought in contact with the rectum cause chronic catarrh; hemorrhoids develop together with ulcers, fissures, and abscesses, followed by fistulae, and the way is prepared for tuberculosis and cancer.

In India, especially in Ceylon, and also in Mexico, countries in which curries and hot, peppery sauces are used, gastric catarrh, constipation and hemorrhoids are almost universal among those addicted to the use of these pernicious food-poisons.