Friday, April 9, 2010

Milk: it's for Every Booty by Jerry Brainum

Nobody likes to talk about constipation. But let's face it: **hit happens. Or it doesn't.The incidence of chronic constipation ranges from 2% to 30%. It can be caused by either mechanical or functional causes. The "mechanical" doesn't mean that you get constipated when you hear what that next car repair is going to cost. Instead, it refers neurological disorders, or problems with gastrointestinal muscle activity. Treatment of constipation usually involves such measures as using bulking agents, such as psyllium or unprocessed wheat bran, eating more high fiber foods, or as a last resort, using laxatives. But constipation may also be caused by a relative inactivity of certain gut peptides. These peptides, which are short chains of amino acids, affect gastrointestinal motility, or the movement of food through the stomach and intestines. People suffering from constipation show reduced basal levels of one of these peptides, motilin. Motilin consists of 22 amino acids, and is known as the "housekeeper of the gut."  It increases gastric emptying rate and small intestine transit. Another gut peptide called ghrelin also helps move things along in the gut.

   These peptides are not only produced in the body, but are also found naturally in some foods. One such food is milk, which contains a number of biologically active peptides, including both motilin and ghrelin. Yet, some studies show that people who drink large amounts of whole milk often get constipated. What happens is the saturated fat that isn't fully absorbed from milk remains in the intestine,where it forms soaps. These soaps then combine with calcium, which tends to foster the development of hard stools, which means constipation. Since this effect is related to the fat content of milk, what would happen if you drank non-fat milk, which still contains the active intestinal-stimulating peptides minus the fat?
   In a recent study, subjects either with or without constipation drank amounts of milk that varied from 2 to 4 cups a day. The constipated subjects who drank the fat-free milk showed dramatic and rapid improvement  with their constipation. This effect was attributed to the natural peptides in the milk, along with the high protein content of the milk, which favors the release of ghrelin in the intestine.Some of the subjects drinking the milk also complained of stomach aches, bloating, and gas, which may have come from the sugar found in milk, lactose.Many adults are lactose-intolerant, and will show these symptoms after drinking a certain amount of milk. On the other hand, the lactose itself acts as a laxative, and may play a role in the alleviation of constipation after drinking non-fat milk.
      So it appears that milk is not only a great source of protein, but it can also cure one of the most common intestinal maladies known to man. And we would all have to agree that it sure is a load off all our collective minds to know this. Drinking non-fat milk allows you to put constipation behind you, if you follow my gist.

Aydin S, et al. Fat-free milk as a therapeutic approach to constipation and the effect on serum motilin and ghrelin levels.Nutrition 2010: in press.

©,2012 Jerry Brainum. Any reprinting in any type of media, including electronic and foreign is expressly prohibited

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