Countering drug-induced constipation…

I realise that for many people this is a distasteful subject. If that’s you, then spare a thought for those of us for whom this problem is purgatorial!


As regular readers may be aware, a side effect of my array of chronic illnesses is drug-induced constipation, the worst offenders being opioid analgesics, though others contribute to the problem, as does enforced inactivity.

The only solution to that problem, for many years, all else having failed,  has been beer, in sizeable quantities – a gallon or so is needed to break the log-jam, so to speak. Needless to say, that’s not doing me any good, especially as, now my heart is so comprehensively screwed, the sheer volume of fluid is a health hazard, causing my lungs to fill with fluid the following day or two. Not to put too fine a point on it, it could well be shortening even more what is an already foreshortened life-span. And, of course, these days it’s sodding expensive.

That, then, was partly behind my reversion to a wholefood vegetarian diet, one which has fallen out of favour of late in favour of a sort of dinner-party vegetarianism in which one has to peer very closely to find adequate nutrition, not least the protein content (important when, like me, you have just one meal a day). The other reason being the abysmal quality of the meat I could afford, by which I mean Sainsbury’s mid-range meat. Anyway, it’s a diet I happen to like, and one which, as we’ll see likes me. And my version isn’t the worthy but dull one – think Crank’s – but one which is highly flavoured and spiced.

Simultaneously with that, I began to take a tablespoon of crushed linseeds, in water, every day. Pretty nasty, like drinking sawdust, but necessary. I buy whole linseeds – Linusit Gold – blitz them in a blender, then store them in a jar in the fridge so they don’t go rancid.

So, I’m now almost a month in, and there’s one thing that has become apparent – I no longer need a gallon of beer to, er, motivate me, as it were, the benefit of all that dietary fibre (I also make bread which is 50% wholemeal, 100% being just too dull and heavy), making its presence well and truly felt.

I’ve said, previously, that around 5,000i.u. of vitamin D3 had a similar effect, which it did, but not for very long, and especially not after my need for analgesia had increased after my sojourn in hospital, in January.

For those of you with dark memories of the F-Plan diet in the 70s/80s, a wholefood veggie diet need be nothing like that – it can be – but it needn’t be. Mine is simply high in pulses, grains, and vegetables, the main grain component being the white and whole-grain wheat flour in my bread (or, in the case of the bread I’ll be making on Wednesday, whole-grain Emmer or possibly Kamut), and the occasional rice-based meal, to which I always add peas, for the fibre content, as I can’t abide brown rice (except as a well-disguised ingredient in things like veggie-burgers). Nor, god help us, can I stomach muesli, a substance more suited to surfacing driveways.

I also, at the moment, instead of sugary jam or high-fat cheese, being over-fond of both, I have a tub of home-made pease pudding in the fridge, which is excellent spread on bread or toast,** and peas are high in fibre – as indeed are most pulses and grains – similar spreads can be made with lentils, or chick peas (hummus). And as you’ll see from my last post, I’ve devised a recipe for a veggie sausage which, aside from being tasty, is also high in fibre.

**Or reheated and served with veggie sausages – not mine, yet, but Sainsbury’s which, weren’t actually too bad, though I’m sure I can do better.

4 thoughts on “Countering drug-induced constipation…

  1. Hi Ron
    Do you have a fruit & veg barrow,if so ask them for the oranges the can’t sell if you want eat the or just get as much jucie as you can from them and it cost very little this help me give it a go.

    • Thanks Tom.

      I don’t eat fruit, but I used to drink a lot of OJ – never made the slightest difference. On the other hand, it is very good – though counter-intuitive – for hyperacidity.

      So far, though, the change of diet and the linseeds are getting the job done – which should save me a fortune in beer, as I’m getting sick of the crap on sale round here! And getting bored with drinking tbh.


    • Peas – all pulses, in fact – are high in protein, but it’s incomplete protein, deficient in a couple of amino acids. Grains, however, have the missing amino acids in abundance, but are, in their turn, low in a couple of their own which, fortuitously, pulses supply – the combination of pulses and grains providing a high level of protein with a perfect balance of amino acids. Mushrooms are high in protein – about 12% – but as they’re mostly water, you need to eat a hell of a lot. Nuts, too, but the downside there is the fat content.

      When Diet for a Small Planet was published, it led generations of veggies up the garden path by insisting that we had to eat grains and pulses at the same meal, to get the correct amino acid balance, beans on toast being the classic, or rice and beans in Mexico, risi e bisi – rice and peas – in Italy – three dishes that appeared spontaneously, with no knowledge of amino acids.

      As it turned out, we don’t need to do that at all – just shovel it in and your body will sort it out, as long as pulses and grains are in there somewhere. Frances Moor Lappe, the author, eventually recanted, admitting she’d been wrong.

      Linusit Gold linseeds are supposed to be cracked, so they absorb moisture, but if they are I can’t see it, but they work well blitzed in the blender, and they’d probably go down better in a smoothie, or mashed into a banana – they sink in water.

      Not been convinced by dried fruit – I’ve eaten loads, mostly prunes but occasionally apricots – and I’ve drunk prune juice by the pint – nothing! Olive oil is good, though, and anyone who doesn’t like drinking it – about 3-4 ounces – can dip bread in it. A splash of vinegar helps too.

      Still, I’m happy with the way things have turned out, and also to be freed from the tyranny of beer – the one occasion I didn’t drink for two weeks, I wound up in hospital with a blocked bowel.

      The important thing to remember about protein is how little a normal person needs – just 2 – 3 ounces a day – so it’s almost impossible to go short of protein, normally, and nobody, ever, needs a 32oz steak!


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