According to Dr. John McDougall, dairy protein paralyzes the bowel. In his article, In Search of the Perfect Bowel Movement, "Dairy protein (not the fat or sugar) causes severe constipation in many people. This was clearly demonstrated in a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1998, of 65 severely constipated children. They complained of only one bowel movement every 3 to 15 days and didn't even respond to strong laxatives. Forty-four of the 65 (68%), however, found relief of their constipation when taken off the cow-milk. Evidence of inflammation of the bowel was found on biopsy and anal fissures and pain were commonly associated with the constipation. All of these were resolved with the elimination of the cow-milk. When cow-milk was introduced back into their diet 8 to 12 months later, all of the children developed constipation within 5 to 10 days. So it is not just the lack of fiber in the diet that binds you up, but also other qualities of animal foods." Dr. McDougall highlights this study in his three-minute McDougall Moments video on constipation.
Constipation is also a result of eating the rich Western diet. Dustin Rudolph PharmD, writes "Fiber is essential to the formation of healthy bowel movements. Without it, or with very little of it, constipation can become a chronic problem leading to hard, compact stools requiring excessive straining to force out of the bowel."
Given the fact that nearly 90% of calories from the typical American diet comes from fiber-deficient foods like animal products and processed foods, the majority of Americans suffer from being constipated and its related conditions like hemorrhoids, hiatal hernia and varicose veins. It's important to realize that the typical America diet consisting of meat, dairy, eggs, refined grains, oils, butter, processed and fast foods, candy/snack foods, sodas/juice/alcohol and potato chips is a fiber-deficient diet, since animal products contain zero fiber and refined food contains very little fiber since the majority (if not all) is removed during processing. Dr. McDougall says that "Everyone today eats like royalty. People are overweight and sick because they eat like aristocrats of old. Kings and queens 3,000-4,000 years ago suffered the same diseases...yet everyone can eat rich foods now." Breakfast consists of bacon, eggs, toast with butter and a glass of milk. Lunch is a double-cheese burger with fries and a milk shake, and dinner is thick steak with dessert... all of which are void of any fiber.
In contrast, a whole-food, plant-based diet supplies an abundance of fiber, more than twice the recommended minimum daily intake. Most Americans consuming the standard American diet eat a troubling 10-15 grams of fiber per day, whereas a plant-based diet can easily provide 60 to 100+ grams per day. Not surprisingly, 97% of Americans are deficient in this nutrient, especially those that consume high-protein (meat), low-carbohydrate diets.
Fiber provides the bulk (volume) of the stool. Those who eat a diet based on whole plant foods have large, soft stools that are passed effortlessly several times a day. Diets based on animal and processed foods however, produce very small, hard, marble shaped stool that takes great effort and force to pass. Dr. Michael Greger emphasizes that "Stool size matters. The bigger our bowel movements, the healthier we may be."
Fiber not only keeps our gastrointestinal tract working optimally, it plays a much larger role in the prevention and reversal of disease. For additional information on fiber, see our Fiber Pinterest Board.
More information can be found below by clicking on the following links:
(1) Dr. Michael Greger - Childhood Constipation and Cow's Milk