Updated: Nov 13, 2018 Written By Master Healer Salvatore, C.C.Ir., B.A.Sc., M.A.Sc.
The following discussion and the list below of foods bad for bowel health may surprise you but there is a reason for it, and an easy way to understand it.
Several so-called "natural foods", that are purported to be good for you, even if they contain fiber, or special nutrients are not actually good for regularity or your physical body overall.
These are mostly dried food: fruits and veggies, other crispy, crunchy, crusty foods.
At the very least you should be mindful of the repercussions of eating these foods regularly.
In the worst case, you may have or want to avoid bowel issues, improve regularity and avoid suffering from chronic or occasional constipation.
Other minor symptoms might be straining or incomplete evacuation.
Maybe you keep having to do colonics, increasing the frequency, or are taking herbs for the colon regularly, and the problem keep coming back.
Studies have been done on participants who have eaten rye bread and or a probiotic yogurt (1), or eaten prunes for 3 weeks at a time to improve regularity (2), in particular transit time, and resolved constipation to some extent.
However, these studies do not examine if there was anything wrong with the person's diet to begin with. Nor how the difficulty came to be in the first place over a long period of time.
So the obvious change worked to improve the health of the gastrointestinal tract, but what caused the irregularity?
And as people age, bowel difficulties are common-place since foods have been eaten to harm the lower bowel function.
The prevalence of constipation increases with age and differs among settings. In individuals 65 years of age or older in the community, the prevalence is 26% for women and 16% for men (3).
In Canadian Family Physician periodical entitled: Constipation in older adults Stepwise approach to keep things moving an elderly patient is examined to resolve constipation:
Here's a direct quote from the attending physician about her diet:
she states that she likes freshly baked bread, pasta, cheese, and yogurt. She eats 2 servings each of fruit and vegetables daily. She drinks 2 cups of coffee each day but is afraid to drink too much water as she would like to avoid urinating often.
Bread if whole wheat will not be constipation, but if bread is white, like french bread it will be. Same with pasta, and cheese is also constipating. And high quality probiotic yogurt is not.
Very few people have an optimal diet for digestion or bowel health. And you can suffer mineral depletion, have low protein intake low sulfur diets. And then most people have not paid sufficient attention to evacuating their bowels regularly and need remediation. You know, the old saying "Nature is calling."
The information presented here will astonish you because no one knows or talks about it in the Natural Health field, and the wrong information was previously given.
I'm going to also thoroughly list the junk foods that are doubly bad for your colon health, and other natural foods that you may think are completely good for it but are not!...
Once you understand the reason behind this information, you will understand that even nutritional bars which we consume because of their quick nutrition are not natural to the body. Why? Because they do not contain enough water or moisture in them.
All the nutrients are "packed" in because of the lack of water.
Dr. Oz mentioned on his tv show that there is water in every real food we consume: fruits, vegetables when asked about the amount of water we should drink every day.
These types of dehydrated foods, thus are not "natural" to the body. Fortunately, most of us eat only a few of them a week.
But if you eat them regularly, and too many of them, you may very well end up with colon health issues.
If you eat any of the foods that are bad for your colon health, you may not feel it right away, but sometime in the future, there will be a degradation of your colon health.
When you eat dehydrated vegetables or fruits regularly, you are just asking for bowel problems! The exception is prunes because dried prunes are not really dry, they are moist!
Yes, it was Dr. Weston Price who said drying veggies/fruits are a great source of nutrition, but it turns out they are bad for the bowels!
Bad for the bowels means your colon function will degrade in the long-term, and maybe you will get diagnosed with a serious colon disorder if you seek medical attention.
Perhaps not as serious as colon cancer, but a medical diagnosis you may not want.
So, such things as dried apricots, dried cranberries, dried blueberries, dried cherries, dried black currants, dried banana chips and so on are bad for the bowels.
It does not matter that they are organic, are "all natural", or are supposed to be "good for you"!
They steal moisture from the daily colon function.
Think about this... Your bowel movements are made of water/moisture.
If you have dry bowel movements chronically, you have already caused some impairment.
The worst of these offenders is the dried fruit offenders is banana chips (see picture below). These are terrible for the bowels because they are so hard.
So, are you thinking that sun-dried tomatoes might be an issue as well?
If you snack on these kinds of foods regularly, and you want to avoid some serious bowel issues, you have to avoid these foods as much as possible.
If you are thinking along the lines of foods that are dehydrated stealing moisture from proper colon function, did you know that Rye Bread is one that does just that?
This is not an easy section to write considering that rye bread has been studied with and without the addition of yogurt to aid in restoring bowel regularity and has been given health benefit claims in Europe.
Rye bread varies widely in it's contents: from the Rye flours mixed with other whole wheat flours and sourdough starters to the classic Danish or Finnish 100% whole grain rye pumpernickel bread:
Example ingredients of Finnish Rye Bread: WHOLE GRAIN RYE (55 %) (flour, kernel and crushed), water, syrup, BARLEY AND RYE MALT EXTRACT, iodized sea salt and yeast. 100 % of the grain used in baking is whole grain rye. Baked with sourdough.
In my opinion and experience, whole rye bread is not healthier than regular whole wheat bread because the whole kernel is irritating to the gut. And both are no longer healthy for people because of the gluten contained therein can promote inflammation.
Rye bread treats dampness in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It can remove moisture (called dampness in TCM) from the body, and bowels, and actually make you have dry, difficult bowel movements, even though it could make you feel more regular. In other words, the fiber content causes a bowel movement, but just not a satisfactory one.
Rye bread which is made with flours only, however and not the kernel does not have enough fiber for it to be healthier than regular whole wheat bread.
But if you eat it regularly and find it causes colon difficulties, if you can benefit from it overall, I recommend eating it in soups, or not eat too much of it.
Or maybe dip it in tomato sauce as a treat since that would be better for you.
Another food that treats dampness is pearled barley.
If it is used to accompany soups though, it becomes beneficial because soups are liquid. It is also considered a medicinal in TCM.
In my experience, the rye-crisp bread types is the most harmful to bowel health of breads, although again, they contain a good amount of fiber and are supposed to be "healthy".
This is because they are devoid of moisture, and baked to get that crispy light feel. They are sometimes called rye thins.
I won't mention any brands, but they are very light, rectangular type boxes with very thinly sliced bread.
Their crispy, crunchy nature will steal moisture from the bowels and cause health difficulty.
I've never eaten them with soups, but have eaten them with jams. I would suggest only eating them by dunking them in soups as well.
See that Caesar Salad made with healthy romaine lettuce and the large croutons (cubed hard bread).
Adding the croutons makes the benefit of the fiber a wash!
Even if they are whole wheat croutons, and sauteed rather than baked they are going to hurt your bowels. And worse if they have an extra hard brown crust!
Opt for the Greek salad instead for a healthier choice.
Here's a list of healthy and not so healthy foods that are bad for your bowels.
Notice that all of them are processed in some way.
These items below are very mildly bad for the bowels because of the steel cut oats, hard oats (not softened), but healthy otherwise.
Date squares are a healthy snack for the bowels, especially if the dates are soft but the oats that are not cooked soft with water can be problematic.
Apple crisp or apple crumble are bad for the bowels because of the crumble part, the part that contains the oats but are healthier than the heavy duty bowel destroyers, such as tortillas, crispy crunchy potato chips, frozen pizza's, hard crust pizzas.
If oats are cooked in water and softened they are perfectly fine for the bowels.
Baked apples are in of themselves a great food for the bowels, even better than raw apples, but only if you don't add the crispy stuff!
Yam fries, baked or fried (or yam chips) are supposed to be healthier than baked potato fries. But this is only true if they are not baked to a "crispy" feel.
Every tried to eat a soggy potato chip? It is not appetizing at all. So everyone learned to love those crispy fries.
Fried or baked and commercially sold healthy Potato chips are also loaded with a chemical that is linked to cancer according to research by Dr. Mercola.
The lesson: As long as these kinds of baked or fried food items are flat and crispy, rather than moisture laden, they will hurt the bowels.
Even if you bake them at home yourself!
And there are many of these crispy snacks in your supermarket to choose from -- more so whole grain products now.
Tortilla chips (made of corn or otherwise) are one of the worst foods for the bowels because they are flat, dried, sharp-edged.
Ever notice how you have to strain the next morning when you go to the bathroom?
And to add more ill-health effects they contain invisible mycotoxins (fungal toxins), which people who have a Candida infection will have in their body in the first place.
It does not matter the color or type of the corn chips, even multi-grain, they are all extremely bad for the bowels.
These invisible mycotoxins or fungal toxins on corn chips could also feel addictive to you. They are quite tasty!
If I had to say there is anything that comes a close second to Tortilla chips it would be rice thins. Brown Rice based "healthy" snacks that are becoming popular now are just as bad for the bowels.
Some of these rice based/whole grain crackers come in a variety of flavours: onion, tomato and garlic, sun-dried tomato, etc.
Rice crackers are some of the worst crackers. They are so pressed and sharp-edged, and crispy thin!.
And brown rice often is also contaminated with several types of mycotoxins as well (4).
Did you ever eat several of them and feel like they went straight to your belly as fat?
So remember crispy sharp-edged foods are very bad for the bowels.
Don't be surprised if after consuming a large amount of these foods you find yourself at best having a difficult bowel movement the next morning or disturbed sleep that night too!
Although articles have been written on the best foods for relieving constipation, the information here is more to keep your bowels in optimal function and therfore not degrade.
We have already mentioned those foods above that can degrade colon health.
It is well known that fiber is needed for proper bowel function but so is sufficient water intake.
These specific foods listed just below have a water content and texture that is more suitable for bowel health as well.
They are ordered as such.
1. Beans in the Legume family (5)
Black Beans, Navy Beans, Chickpeas, Cannelini beans, etc are some of the best foods for promoting bowel regularity, and bowel motility.
These beans need to be cooked with water and thus softened. They can be baked into a dish, but not baked to cook them.
If you are going to eat beans regularly you must make sure that the type of bean you eat is well suited to your blood type Diet.
Cooked chickpeas are nutritious, but roasted chickpeas are hard, and degrading for the large colon!
2. Kiwifruit can affect gastrointestinal motility in a positive way (6).
Although research shows that Kiwi has some enzymes which are similar to those in prunes, they are in a class of their own because of their water-texture content.
They are softer than prunes.
Kiwifruit is in the opinion of this author the best food for "acute" situations. This knowledge is based on years of experience studying food's effects on the bowels, the study of TCM, and formulas that help the bowels function properly.
3. Prunes or dried plums are the 3rd best.
Research has shown prunes are better than psyllium husks in moving the bowels if taken every day. That includes prunes, prune juice, and prune extract that have this effect.
I may have given it away already, but do you know if roasted vegetables are good or bad for the colon?
I've already given you two hints with respect to roast chickpeas, and roasted Yam fries!
A baked beat is different than a beat just cooked with water.
If you cook the beats in water, and then oven roast them reducing their water content untill they are crunchy you have a food bad for the bowels.
If you bake yam fries until they are cooked but not crispy and not golden brown, they are ok for you.
As soon as you've made them even a little bit crispy they are no longer a health food!
In Ayurvedic medicine, it is recommended to use hot water to move the bowels. Therefore drinking hot beverages including teas could be of benefit in moving the bowels daily.
In addition, when taking hot teas that are digestives such chamomile tea, there would be the additional benefit of more bile flow which would make for better bowel movements as well.
It is important to know about the effect of other foods on the bowels even if they are not injurious.
Most raw apples are healthy for the bowels, but a few are very astringent and tend you to constipation (although there are benefits to astringent foods). can make you feel constipated.
In other words, you feel blocked up. This is especially true if you have inadequate fiber intake, and a low sulfur diet, insufficient or inadequate protein intake and therefore poor bile flow.
In order of astringency, here are two:
Red Grapes are also very astringent but you have to eat quite a few of them to exert this effect.
Bananas by themselves can also help treat loose stool and therefore can be a little bit constipating. This may be the greener ones.
While evidence suggests bananas are helpful for the colon, I believe they can be a little bit constipating in some people.
So you have to beware of their effect on you.
Sometimes people know they have bowel issues because they have dry and difficult to move bowel movements in the morning, so they have some kind of morning juice to compensate (without addressing the real difficulty).
Let us know if this rings a bell.
People can also compensate by eating kiwis if they know about their usefulness, or oranges because they help with generating the bowel movements since they are watery and provide moisture to the bowels.
Or they juice a fruit smoothie in the morning which contains celery, carrot juice, etc, orange juice, which provides moisture to the bowels, and in a short time afterward, have a bowel movement.
The long-term difficulty with these juices can be the cooling effect they have on the body because they are not energetically balanced.
Other people may yet use coffee to force a bowel movement because they are not so aware of the level of bowel health they have.
One reason coffee assists is if it is hot!; Just like hot tea in the morning. And if you keep drinking hot coffee throughout the day, it will encourage a bowel movement.
In TCM the moisture in the body is called the Yin energy because Yin is a watery type of energy, and is generated from Kidney-Yin energy which is stored in the body.
Night sweats, for example, are a symptom and a direct result of a kidney-yin deficiency, a deficiency of this moistening energy.
The lack of this counterbalancing energy causes heat or yang to win and hence the night sweats.
When you consume these kinds of foods regularly, you may have depleted your kidney-yin energy a little bit.
This is only one issue causing bowels movement difficulties.
Other issues include sulfur intake, fat intake, colon wall health, liver health, adequate bile flow, sufficient stomach acid, and sufficient bitters in the diet.