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Persimmon Skins and Other Foods that Can Cause Obstruction in the GI tract

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If you enjoy eating persimmons, please know that it's best to avoid eating their skins.

Persimmon skins are one of several foods that can contribute to the buildup of an indigestible mass in the gastrointestinal tract - called a bezoar - that can lead to serious complications and a need for surgery if the mass gets large enough to obstruct the GI tract.

Other common foods that can contribute to the formation of a bezoar if eaten in large quantities in a short period of time are celery, prunes, leeks, raisins, pumpkin skin, and beet skin.

Common symptoms of a developing bezoar are bloating, a feeling of fullness after eating only a small amount of food, nausea, lack of appetite, and otherwise unexplained weight loss.

Small bezoars can eventually pass on their own.  In East Asian countries, the first line of treatment often includes steady intake of coca cola or ginger ale, as the acidity of these beverages is thought to help break down a bezoar.  A much healthier albeit slightly less acidic choice would be sparkling water.  Coke and ginger ale typically have a pH in the high 2s, while sparkling (carbonated) water has a pH between 3 and 4.  The lower the pH, the more acidic a solution is.

If you have family or friends that enjoy eating large quantities of persimmons or the other foods mentioned above, please consider sharing this information with them.  

P.S. On a related note, please know that bezoars can also develop in pets that are exposed to synthetic fibers found in some chew and pull toys, so it's best to avoid giving any such toys to dogs and cats.

 
 

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Comments

I love Dr Ben Kim’s web site. He posts many random articles about food and health. It seems it’s always about something I did not know about. How about one on How to stay healthy living in a world of poisonous chem trails? Thank you Doctor Ben Kim

Interesting! How much is “too much” of those foods?

Four years ago I had my Sigmoid Colon removed and have had two stomach blockages since. Your article on bezoars gave me more information about what is wrong with me and how to cope with it than I ever hoped to get. It has been trial and error for four years now, and what a struggle it has been. I researched the information you gave and now have a name for what is wrong and ways to help myself, which takes away so much anxiety! How can I ever thank you enough.