Laxative Foods

When one subsists—as do so frequently the well-to-do classes, living in luxury—on chicken, rice, mashed potatoes, the finer grade of green vegetables, fine pastry, and white bread, it is not a matter for surprise that such persons usually suffer from constipation. Their diet contains practically nothing capable of exercising the least stimulation for the movement of the bowels. The result is the daily use of medicines and the development of a more and more stubborn constipation. The inhabitants of Carlsbad should be thankful to all such people, for it is they who so greatly swell the number of visitors to its springs. Once their condition is improved they soon fall back into their former error, which is truly a human failing.

In this respect the working classes are better off. Their diet, which consists largely of leguminous vegetables and black bread containing much residue and cellulose, frees them of this accompaniment of wealth ; they are rarely troubled with it, and in those practising vegetarianism it is practically unknown. They have plenty of bowel movements—too many, in fact; so they really represent the other unpleasant extreme. The middle way is always the best, i.e., a diet containing a sufficient quantity of residue—though not too much of it—and capable of insuring the assimilation of sufficient food while the bowel movements can occur without trouble.

A diet rich in residue contains much cellulose; many green vegetable (fungi) fruits, many of the leguminous vegetables, and some cereals furnish such a laxative diet. Among such are spinach, carrots, green beans, sauerkraut, and the cabbages; the leguminous vegetables—beans, peas, lentils—oat and rye bread (black bread), dried fruits, plums, cherries, grapes, pine-apple, etc., all act upon the bowels. In the vegetables it is not only the cellulose content, but also other substances conducive to fermentation and the formation of gas, which excite the intestine to increased activity. In fruits the high sugar content and the organic acids are active in this respect. We have fully described the special action and properties of these foods, and must now refer the reader to the respective chapters concerning them. Care should be taken to have certain fruits and other foods well represented in the diet. At breakfast, in the spring, a certain quantity of cherries, all the year round honey, and certain fruit marmalades may be used. Among the latter, according to my experience, pineapple, fig, and orange marmalade, plum butter, etc., exert a good action. At noon, spinach or some others of the above-mentioned vegetables; every day, both at noon and in the evening, stewed fruit, such as rhubarb, cherries, grapes, figs, or dried plums. On retiring, fresh cherries, when they are to be had; otherwise, 4 or 5 dried California prunes, previously soaked three to four hours in water, so that the skin may be removed before they are eaten. With a good digestion they may be eaten with the skins, as they are then even more active. On rising, a glass of cold water, and, a little later, i or 2 fresh oranges. Before break-fast, 1/2 or i orange more a grapefruit (pampelmus). The drinking of milk—from healthy cows—and especially of sour milk, kefir, and jogurt, may also give excellent results. Plenty of exercise is a requisite. As we thus see, there are so many dietetic agents that recourse to injurious medicinal substances is unnecessary. The feces consist largely of residues which excite the intestines ; if we wish to have the bowels moved, we must ingest in our food, as mentioned above, a sufficient quantity of slags or residue.