Sung to the tune of Alouette:

Constipation, chronic constipation
Constipation, a game we like to play
So we take some mineral oil*
Gulp it down in one big swallow
Wait awhile—drop your pile

When we were kids, my sisters and I thought that song was hilarious, but anyone who suffers from constipation will likely say it’s no laughing matter. The good news is that changing what you eat can make a big difference in how you feel. Having the right bacteria in your gut can help prevent and treat both constipation and diarrhea.

Diet Tips: Learn about good bacteria

Bacteria: The good, the bad, the ugly

Bacteria: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

The colony of bacteria in your gut is called your microflora. Some of these bacteria are friendly and some are not. The bad guys can make you sick if they are allowed to take over. However, if you have plenty of good guys to crowd out the bad guys you will not get sick. Instead, you will reap the benefits that the good bacteria have to offer.

Good bacteria, called probiotics, come in capsules and in some fermented foods such as yogurt, non-dairy yogurt, saurkraut, miso, and kimchi. To get the full probiotic benefits the bacteria must still be alive, that is, the food cannot be pasteurized or heated above 140 degrees F. You may see the words “Contains live active cultures” on the label. Look for “live” foods in the refrigerated section and eat them right out of the jar or only slightly warmed up.


Quick Facts:

• 60% of the weight of feces comes from bacteria.
• There are more bacterial cells inside you than there are cells of “you.”
• Friendly bacteria eat plants, but the bacteria that make you sick like to eat meat.
• Some processed, high-fiber foods contain cellulose (purified wood pulp) that does not feed the good bacteria.
• Breastfeeding helps the growth of friendly bacterial colonies in babies.

Tips on beating constipation

Tips on beating constipation

Good bacteria perform many important functions:

  • Make B vitamins, beneficial acids, and substances with natural antibacterial properties
  • Increase the absorption of some nutrients
  • Breakdown some indigestible carbohydrates changing them into digestible carbohydrates
  • Strengthen the immune system
  • Reduce the risk of some cancers
  • Help prevent and treat both diarrhea and constipation
  • Fight harmful bacteria by competing for nutrients and also in other ways
  • Help eliminate waste products from the intestines

Antibiotics kill the good bacteria along with the bad bacteria. When you take antibiotics, ask your doctor about taking a probiotic supplement at the same time. Eating foods with live active cultures will help replace the good bacteria that were killed by the antibiotics. Prebiotic foods that nourish the good bacteria are also helpful in restoring your microflora.

Foods that have been fermented with bacteria provide added nutritional benefits, even if they are pasteurized or cooked. Sometimes the bacteria make nutrients easier to absorb and sometimes they even create nutrients. Many common foods are fermented. Examples include hot sauce, soy sauce, dill pickles, vinegar, wine, beer, cider, coffee, tea, and even chocolate. You won’t be eating live bacteria in these foods, however.

Strict vegetarians (vegans) have higher numbers of good bacteria, which explains some of the health benefits of a plant-based, whole-foods diet. Including fermented foods, especially ones with live active cultures, adds even more health benefits.


More tips on beating constipation

  • You can become constipated simply from being in too much of a rush to get off the toilet. Try setting a timer for 10 minutes and sitting there just to see if anything happens.
  • Exercise, even just walking, will help jiggle everything downwards.
  • If you don’t get enough fiber from your diet, try a fiber-based laxative, but a diet of minimally processed plant foods is the best way to get your fiber.
  • Staying hydrated is essential to prevent constipation.
Bristol Stool Chart

The Massage Connection

Our Licensed Massage Therapists at PalmLeaf Massage Clinic are trained in Abdominal Massage which is a gentle, non-invasive treatment. 

Benefits of Abdominal Massage include:

  • Aids in releasing emotional tension
  • Stimulates internal organs
  • Increases blood flow
  • Relaxes tension in the abdominal muscles including those around the colon
  • Helps dislodge fecal matter from the intestinal walls
  • Stimulates the body’s natural detoxification process
  • Promotes healthy digestive function
*Never eat mineral oil.
“Dr. McDougall’s Digestive Tune-Up” by John McDougall, M.D. He covers every digestive problem you can think of from top to bottom, from bad breath to hemorrhoids. The only thing he does not get into is diabetes and the function of the pancreas. The book is very informative and funny.

“The Life Bridge” by Richard Sarnat, M.D., Paul Schulick and Thomas M. Newmark by Rick Swartzburg, D.C. This web site has information about dozens of different probiotics and the specific benefits of each.

Ramon-Jen-Mascarens-of-PalmLeaf-Massage-Clinic-283x300Ramon & Jeanette ‘Jen’ Mascarenas Co-owners of PalmLeaf Massage Clinic. Jen Mascarenas is a vegan and believes in a whole-foods, plant-based diet to promote vitality. She shares vegan recipes and writes abstract research articles for PalmLeaf Massage Clinic. Ramon Mascarenas and his associates have licensed massage therapist who practices Myofascial Trigger Point Therapy and other medical massage modalities. Ramon and his associates promote wellness and help clients with pain management through self-care exercises.



This publication is for informational purposes only and reliance on any information provided in this publication is solely at your own risk. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice a qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. PalmLeaf Massage Clinic does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions or other information that may be mentioned in this publication.