Constipated?.... Get Your Hormones Moving
Many hesitate to bring up the topic of constipation with their doctor. But constipation is not an issue you want to keep under wraps. When your bowel movements are regular, chances are that your hormones—cortisol, estrogen, and thyroid—are working at their best. Below are my natural remedies for constipation, and trust me, it’s not about prescribing some harsh laxative.
Before I delve into solutions for constipation and how they relate to estrogen, cortisol, and thyroid, I’ll discuss the basics. Constipation is a condition of the intestines in which the stool is dry and hardened, and evacuation is infrequent and/or difficult.
Ideally, you should have a bowel movement at least once per day. I consider anything less than that constipation. My definition is more stringent than conventional medicine, which calls the cutoff for constipation at not one or two days, but three days for a bowel movement. About 50% of people have one bowel movement per day or more, which means the other half are likely suffering from constipation, even though their doctor may not see it as a medical problem.
Personally, I wouldn’t want that kind of back up in my system. Why? It makes the stool harder, which slows down transit even more. And if I just ate seafood at a restaurant, I may absorb the mercury more than if my transit time were normal. Additionally, women are particularly affected because bowel movements remove unnecessary estrogen from the body. The golden rule with estrogen is to use it once and then poop or pee it out, not keep recirculating it like bad karma. That can lead to estrogen overload—and that can lead downstream to hypothyroidism, as well as breast, endometrial, and cervical cancers.
Women are more likely affected by constipation by threefold compared with men. The female colon is longer and has more twists and turns, like a rollercoaster. We experience more stress and dysregulated cortisol. We’re more likely to overuse laxatives, leading to weaker bowel muscles. We’re more likely to have painful haemorrhoids, which occur in 40% of pregnancies, and to restrain from pooping in public places. Hopefully I’ll convince you that pooping is normal, healthy, and essential to your hormone balance.
How to Avoid and Reverse Constipation
Here are my recommendations for avoiding constipation and maintaining a healthy gut:
1. Supplement with probiotics. Adding good bacteria from probiotics may improve transit time, stool frequency, and stool consistency. Establish a healthy gut microbiome, which can ease constipation. Probiotics keep estrogen in balance and may flush out xenoestrogens and thyroid disruptors. Food sources of probiotics are sauerkraut, kim chee, and plain yogurt. Consume 2 to 4 spoonful’s at the start of a meal. I also recommend supplementing with non-dairy options, such as coconut kefir or a probiotic containing the bifidobacterium strain because it seems to be most effective. Since probiotic dosing can be highly individualized, a consultation with me to get yours adjusted to your current situation will be of benefit.
2. Drink water. If we think of our GI tract as one big water slide, you can see why not getting enough fluids is problematic. After all, you can’t ride the slide without water. Low fluid intake can cause constipation. Fluids keep food matter moving through your intestines, and nourish your intestines with H2O to make them smooth and flexible.
3. De-stress. Studies show that stress decreases gastric emptying, pokes holes in the gut wall, and accelerates transit time. Plus, excess cortisol (the main stress hormone) may weaken your gut’s ability to absorb the micronutrients, namely copper, zinc, and selenium, you need for making thyroid hormones.
4. Stop sitting. Sitting not only makes you fat, it slows down transit time. Regular exercise stimulates peristalsis. Yoga twists for compressing the gut and then releasing (when you release the twist), which can stimulate “move along”.
5. Up the fibre. Fibre is magic for constipation. It helps to remove toxins, facilitates intestinal movement, and protects your digestive tract from inflammation, injury, and disease. Most only consume about 14 grams of my recommended 35-50 grams of fibre per day. Fibre also aids in weight loss and maintenance because it can curb your appetite by helping you feel full, and it helps dispose of estrogen to keep you in fat-burning zone. Not bad, right? Fibre-rich foods include quinoa, legumes, berries, and green leafy vegetables. Keep in mind that it can be challenging to eat your daily fibre minimum, so you might need to supplement with an excellent fibre blend – we have a fantastic on here available at Higher Health. Whether you use food or supplements to get your fibre, I recommend increasing fibre intake by a maximum of 5 grams per day, starting at 20 grams on Day 1. If you get gassy, scale back and increase more slowly.
I hope this post has been of some help for you.
Yours in health,