Auto Intoxication And Constipation
Among various forms of auto intoxication, it is that one which is due to the absorption of poisons formed in the intestinal canal through the action of germs, which we shall here briefly discuss. Although this is perhaps one of the most common forms of self-poisoning, but little attention is paid to it. Many people suffer from headaches, backaches, and various other aches and pains, from drowsiness, from a feeling of languor, amounting sometimes even to stupor, from general inactivity, and a want of fitness, all of which symptoms can be ascribed to auto-intoxication.
Fermentation of food
When food is taken into the alimentary canal it begins to undergo digestion at once, under normal conditions. But if the digestive processes are slow and uncertain for any reason, the germs already in the intestinal canal, or those which accompany food, begin their activities. The result is an abnormal process called fermentation, which is due to the action of the germs. Instead of being digested and prepared to nourish the body, the food is decomposed by the germs, and various processes of decay take the place of ordinary digestion.
This means the production of certain fermentation products, all of which are more or less injurious, that is, poisonous, to the human system. The action of germs upon food, and particularly upon nitrogenous food such as animal flesh, is a putrefactive one, and the stomach and intestines become the seat of putrefaction instead of digestion. Some of the putrid bodies which are formed are exceedingly poisonous and cause intense irritation in the stomach and bowels, and may lead to violent vomiting and purging. Although most of them are far less violent in their action, their influence upon the system is anything but benign, and they are often the cause of much physical discomfort and annoyance, the causes of which are little understood by the average patient.
If, in addition to these fermentation processes which are going on in the intestinal canal, the bowels are also constipated, the harmful effects are proportionately magnified, for this means that there is every inducement possible for the absorption of the poisonous products. A daily evacuation of the bowels is essential to good health, and would aid much in mitigating the evils of fermentation.
Flatulence and wind
In the putrefactive processes mentioned above there is often a production of more or less offensive gases, which cause the well-known symptom called flatulence or constipation, and sometimes lead to the belching of wind. The presence of these gases in the stomach and bowels can cause a good deal of disturbance and considerable pain at times. However, let no one think that the absence of flatulence and wind means the absence of fermentation and putrefaction, for this is by no means the case. Some of the worst forms of putrefaction that take place in the alimentary canal are not accompanied by any perceptible formation of gas.
Aside from the accidental use of spoiled food, the two chief causes of intestinal putrefaction are, first, over-indulgence in flesh foods, and, second, overeating of food, especially proteins.
The truth is that people who indulge in flesh food to any extent are almost certain to take more nitrogenous food than they require. Practically speaking, lean beef consists of protein only, aside from the large amount of water that it contains.
Ordinary bread, and especially wholemeal or brown bread, contains about the proper proportion of nitrogenous and non-nitrogenous material. Both eggs and milk are rich in proteid, and the same is true of haricots, lentils, and dried peas. All nuts, except Italian chestnuts, contain a large percentage of protein. On the other hand, fruits, and most vegetables as well, contain but a trifling amount of nitrogen. Rice is a distinctly farinaceous food, and so are potatoes.
The benefits of exercise
Besides regulating the diet, and omitting entirely, or at least to a large extent, flesh foods, physical exercise is essential for good digestion. Such exercise means a large increase in the intake of oxygen, and this brings about a corresponding increase of oxidation, so that many of the poisons which are assimilated into the system are readily burned, that is, oxidized. The presence of an abundance of oxygen in the tissues means a more complete oxidation of the food material used by the body. Consequently there will be less of these poisons formed in the tissues themselves as a product of incomplete metabolism. Furthermore the digestive processes will be more active, and there will be less chance for the putrefactive germs to do harm.
Tepid, cool, or cold baths and cold sponging are also useful in increasing the oxidation processes of the body and a nice home remedy for constipation. They serve to stimulate both respiration and circulation, and their general influence is to vitalize the tissues and strengthen the Resistance forces of the body. Warm and hot baths, on the other hand, such as electric light, Turkish, and vapor baths, improve the elimination processes of the body, and help to get rid of waste or fecal matter that may have been absorbed from the alimentary canal, or result from imperfect metabolism. A good sweat assists very materially in purifying the blood and relieving constipation.