A local friend and blogger posted this NY Times article on her Facebook Page: “Miralax, A Popular Cure, But Not for Children” I read the article in its entirety and have several problems on many levels. But here is what you need to know and understand about constipation and going number two. First, we should have one healthy bowel movement daily. I don’t care what doctors tell you it is NOT normal to go every other or every three days. We should be eliminating once every 24 hours and if you go twice per day, even better. A sign of a true healthy digestive track.
Take a look at your track record here, if this has been an ongoing problem, then you must take a good, hard look at your diet and water intake. Both can have a profound effect in how you feel. The foods we eat can cause irritation in our system, especially if we eat the same foods over, over and over. Here are some reasons why things get stuck:
1. Lack of fiber in the diet
2. Not enough water
3. No exercise or sitting for long periods every day
4. Underlying food sensitivity
Fiber: There are two types of fiber soluble and insoluble. Soluble dissolves in water and works in the large intestine by absorbing water into the stool. It also helps sweep up the cholesterol and helps to make you feel full, bonus! This is what good ole fashioned oatmeal will do for you. Insoluble does not dissolve in water, well a little bit, but it helps bulk up the stool and get push it through. Grounded flax seeds is an example of insoluble fiber, it is 75% insoluble, 25% soluble. Most fruits, veggies, beans are a combination of both (eh-hem..). However, if you do not drink enough water when you consume insoluble fiber, it can be harder to push it all out and why water intake must be increased when you increase your fiber. How much fiber do we need? The Institute of Medicine says, 14g for every 1000 kcal of food. Roughly about 19g of fiber for kids ages 1-3; 25g of fiber for kids 4-8; and 30g of fiber over the age of nine. Now you know.
Food sensitivity: There is plenty of research out there that links chronic constipation to an milk intolerance. Even the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics states, “A trial of dietary elimination of cow’s milk should be considered if there is chronic constipation and other modes of therapies have not worked.” Even if other modes of therapies have worked, consider eliminating milk and ALL milk products for 2 weeks in kids, 3 weeks in adults and denote how the body changes. Also processed wheat, anything white has been stripped of its natural fiber content. And in some cases, a gluten sensitivity can cause chronic constipation even when everything else has failed. I would first give dairy a try.
So what about Miralax and the use of helping kids get their systems working. It is a short term remedy if a remedy at all. Miralax if used on a daily basis makes our colon, well lazy. Why should it have to work when Miralax is doing the work for you? Constipation is an issue that needs to be addressed by using dietary approaches that are simple and better for our health than just swallowing some liquid chalk.
For those parents who are addicted to giving their kids Miralax, here are some safer options:
Flax Oil: Is an excellent choice helping kids and adults get things passing along. It is a nice source of Omega-3’s and won’t strip your vitamins and minerals out like mineral oil will do. It is easy to add to smoothies, soups and milks. Here is a chart from Dr. Sears on how much you can give your family.
For Babies over six months: 1/4 tsp to 1 tsp per day (work your way up)
Toddlers: 1/2 tsp to 1 1/2 tsp per day
Adults: 1-2 Tablespoon per day (and moms, this is great for your hair, skin and nails!)
Grounded Flax Seeds: This is actually higher in fiber and can be easily sprinkled onto yogurts, eggs, on dinners, added to meatloaf, you name it, you can add into any meal. Also an excellent source of Omega 3’s.
Probiotics: Your child may have an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in their gut (large intestine). Just giving them some probiotics can give much needed relief. And if you or your child have ever been treated with antibiotics and not replaced the good bacteria, then this can be a big problem. Renew Life has an excellent selection for the whole family.
Pears: The poor man’s apple doesn’t get much notice, but it is nature’s natural remedy. For under 100 calories and 5.5 g of fiber you can’t go wrong. Or move up to a cup of raspberries for a whopping 8g of fiber.
Lentils: Oh yes, this is one natural colon cleanser that has health benefits. Lentils take 20-min to cook and one cup has 15g of fiber, 17g of protein.
This weekend I am going to create a fantastic and flavorful smoothie that has many of the above ingredients that will get your kids asking for more!
As always, talk to a professional about changing your diets and getting off the chalk. You cannot go cold turkey, you will most likely have to wean off the medicine while making the dietary changes together. When in doubt, get a second opinion.