Anorexia and Constipation

By Paul Schneider Jr.

Unfortunately, many people deal with anorexia and constipation. When you eat very little, the digestive system shuts down.

Bulk is needed in the stool in order for the normal rhythmic contraction and relaxation cycles to move stool through the intestines.

Anorexics just don’t have enough bulk to make this happen, and therefore really struggle with constipation.

Recovering anorexics

Though it may be helpful to those with Anorexia, this article is actually for those in recovery.

It is true that it takes time to retrain the digestive system to function, and during that time anorexia and constipation can be a real problem.

Stimulant laxatives

As you may have heard, most laxatives on the market, even natural ones, are stimulant in nature. This means that their function is to stimulate intestinal muscles to contract and move stool along.

Unfortunately, over time these types of laxatives make the intestines lazy. It just isn't a good idea to take these for very long.

Osmotic laxatives are best

The best laxative to use long term is an osmotic laxative, one that draws water into the intestines. These help to keep the stool moist and soft, and helps to shorten transit times.

Osmotic laxatives do not produce physical dependency. Miralax, Phillips Milk of Magnesia and Epson Salt are all examples of OTC osmotic laxatives.

Foods to speed recovery from anorexia and constipation

This website is devoted to helping people overcome constipation. We have web pages listing foods that cause constipation, foods that relieve constipation, and good fiber sources.

Here are some quick suggestions specifically for those recovering from anorexia.

  • Don’t eat a lot of seeds and nuts, as this can bind things up
  • Don’t eat an excessive amount of meat; it is hard to digest and so slows things up
  • Sweets feed yeast, so go easy on them, in spite of new found food liberties

  • Avoid fast foods and processed foods, which are high in sugars and salt, with little fiber
  • Avoid taking a calcium supplement, as it definitely causes constipation
  • Many medications cause constipation, many including pain relievers

  • Eat olive and coconut oils; healthy for you, and good bowel lubrication
  • Eat vegetables (preferably raw) and some fruit, as they are generally a good source of fiber
  • Eat cultured foods or take a probiotic; good bacteria need to be in charge of the colon. Good bacteria feed on fiber, and the bodies of bacteria hold moisture better than fiber. Stool should be 50% bacteria

  • Eat sweet potatoes, brown or wild rice, as they are good sources of fiber and nutrition
  • Eat whole grain breads and cereals in place of white. Whole grains are a good source of fiber

Magnesium for anorexia and constipation

Although osmotic laxatives are not habit forming, they are not recommended for daily use.

However, there is a mineral supplement containing 106% of the US RDA of magnesium that functions as an osmotic laxative and is recommended for daily use.

Because the magnesium draws water into the colon, it can really help one’s stool to not dry up, but remain moist.

My personal experience

I have found this to be a wonderful lifesaver when nothing else seems to work to produce a bowel movement. 

There are times that I binge and don’t have a bowel movement for days.

Fortunately, taking the sea minerals daily, and even doubling the dose when needed, has kept my stool from drying out. When I finally do go it remains soft and easy to pass. Plus, taking a magnesium supplement has other health benefits as well.

Another benefit is that the extra fluid in the colon tends to create hydraulic pressure which gets things moving. I have found that I am pretty much in full control of my bowels by just regulating how much of this product I take each day.

(Return from Anorexia and Constipation to What is Constipation)

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