Hormonal Issues: Could this be due to Constipation?

Repeatedly in my Clinic I meet females who attend my practice reporting bowel irregularity, fatigue or bloating however on deeper questioning are also suffering very disruptive hormonal fluctuations during the month manifesting in PMS (Premenstrual sensitivity) symptoms including bloating, irritability, tender breasts, emotional outbursts, cravings for sugar often in the week just prior to menstruation (if they have a regular cycle). Or they may already be diagnosed with PCOS, Endometriosis, fibroids, benign or cancerous tumours of ovaries or breast

When your bowel movements are not regular, chances are that your hormones—cortisol, estrogen, and thyroid—are not working at their best. And by regular, I mean a minimum of daily motions, no straining or prolonged waiting and a feeling of full evacuation after having passed a motion. In hunter gatherer times it was commonplace to have a motion every time our ancestors ate. Today unfortunately due to busy and mainly sedentary lifestyle this is   not the case. This is problematic due to the level of toxicity in our environment over 60000 man-made chemicals manufactured in the past 150 years (1), many of these are colourless, odourless compounds so we don’t see or smell them however they are omnipresent in our environment. They bioaccumulate up the food chain & eventually in our bodies. It simply is an imperative to detox in this toxic day & age. The most toxic matter leaves via the bowel, we also detox via the skin through sweating, via the kidneys through urination, and the breath via carbon dioxide. Nourishing our bodies by eating liver friendly foods which supports this complex detoxification system in the liver (in particular) is of paramount importance. For those experiencing constipation this further adds to the bodies bioburden that has accumulated, this is because unbeneficial bacteria in the bowel or colon act on the old faecal matter and release safely bound oestrogens that is absorbed systemically and can recirculate around the body in a more dangerous format. Added to that the level of “false” oestrogens in our environment ie xenoestrogens this is an additional burden for our liver to detox. These “false” oestrogens disrupt our bodies natural endogenous hormones and can wreak hormonal disharmony.

How to address this:

  • Avoid/Reduce Xenoestrogen exposure by avoiding plastic bottles of water (a primary culprit) this water may not be filtered or any different from what is running through your tap at home). I recommend filtering your tap water and carrying in a BPA free bottle (available online or Healthfood stores/sports stores/supermarkets), glass bottles (prone to breakage!) or stainless-steel bottle
  • Fruit and vegetables sprayed with pesticides/herbicides & insecticides act as hormone disrupters once ingested
  • Even organic fruit & vegetables (which are not sprayed) often come wrapped in plastic, this plastic can leach xenoestrogens into the body and act as hormonal disruption. This is so unnecessary in my opinion. Below see a more detailed list of sources
  • Skincare Avoid parabens, sodium lauryl sulphate\ (SLS)

Guidelines to minimize your personal exposure to xenoestrogens:

Food

  • Avoid all pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides.
  • Choose organic, locally-grown and in-season foods.
  • Peel non-organic fruits and vegetables.
  • Buy hormone-free meats and dairy products to avoid hormones and pesticides.

Plastics

  • Reduce the use of plastics whenever possible.
  • Do not microwave food in plastic containers. (best advice avoid the microwave)
  • Avoid the use of plastic wrap to cover food for storing
  • Use glass or ceramics whenever possible to store food.
  • Do not leave plastic containers, especially your drinking water, in the sun.
  • If a plastic water container has heated up significantly, throw it away.
  • Don’t refill plastic water bottles.
  • Avoid freezing water in plastic bottles to drink later.

Household Products

  • Use chemical free, biodegradable laundry and household cleaning products.
  • Choose chlorine-free products and unbleached paper products (i.e. tampons, menstrual pads, toilet paper, paper towel, coffee filters).
  • Use a chlorine filter on shower heads and filter drinking water

Health and Beauty Products

  • Avoid creams and cosmetics that have toxic chemicals and estrogenic ingredients such as parabens and stearalkonium chloride.
  • Minimize your exposure to nail polish and nail polish removers.
  • Use naturally based fragrances, such as essential oils.
  • Use chemical free soaps and toothpastes.
  • Read the labels on condoms and diaphragm gels.

At the Office

  • Be aware of noxious gas such as from copiers and printers, carpets, fibreboards, and at the gas pump.
  1. Cheryl S. Watson, Yow-Jiun Jeng, Jutatip Guptarak. Endocrine disruption via estrogen receptors that participate in nongenomic signaling pathways. The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Volume 127, Issues 1–2, October 2011, Pages 44-50, ISSN 0960-0760, 10.1016/j.jsbmb.2011.01.015. (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960076011000288)
  2. Sam De Coster, Nicolas van Larebeke. Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals:  Associated Disorders and Mechanisms of Action. Journal of Environmental and Public Health,

Published online 2012 September 6. Doi: 10.1155/2012/713696.

  1. Xenoestrogens and How to Minimize Your Exposure.  Accessed October 15, 2012.

Below are my natural remedies for constipation, and trust me, it’s not about prescribing some harsh laxative.

Regularity, Constipation, and Women

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 cut off for constipation at not one or two days, but three days for a bowel movement. About 50 percent 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. 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. [2]

Women are more likely affected by constipation by threefold compared with men. 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 hemorrhoids, which occur in 40 percent of pregnancies Hopefully I’ll convince you that pooping is normal, healthy, and essential to your hormone balance. www.saragottfried.org

How to Avoid and Reverse Constipation

Here are my recommendations for avoiding constipation and maintaining a healthy gut.

  1. Have a series of Colonic Hydrotherapy. A Colonic is the most effective manner of literally washing out old stagnant matter that may be sitting in your bowel for months or even years. This is extraordinarily helpful in regaining hormonal balance and homeostasis within the body. This will also support adrenal (the bodies energy back packs) and liver function to optimise detoxification. It will also make any cleanse which you embark on much easier to tolerate due to the removal of unbeneficial bacteria
  2. 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.[4] Probiotics keep estrogen in balance and may flush out xenoestrogens and thyroid disruptors such as bisphenol A.[5] Food sources of probiotics are sauerkraut, kimchee, and kefir. Consider fermenting at home this is easy & cheap to do. Consume two to four spoonfuls of fermented food at the start of a meal. If you don’t like those options, I 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, consult with a Nutritional Therapist to get yours adjusted to optimum.
  3. 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.[6] Fluids keep food matter moving through your intestines, and nourish your intestines with H2O to make them smooth and flexible. Aim for 1.5 to 2Litres of filtered water daily, water content from “wet” foods such as soups, smoothies & herbal teas also contribute to daily intake. Aim for straw coloured urine, no odour should be evident
  4. 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.[7]
  5. Stop sitting.Sitting not only makes you fat, it slows down transit time. Regular exercise stimulates peristalsis. Yoga twists can compress the gut and  release (when you release the twist),may stimulate faeces to move along.
  6. Up the fibre. Fibre is helpful for constipation. It removes toxins, facilitates intestinal movement, and protects your digestive tract from inflammation, injury, and disease. 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 flaxseed, chia, root & green leafy vegetables, fruits (but be careful of the sugar count) berries are low in fruit sugar.

Constipation can be either a symptom of dysfunction or the cause. In either case, it’s an important message about an imbalance in your body that needs to be addressed. By maintaining healthy digestion with ample hydration, good nutrition, probiotics, and stress coping, you’ll be on your way toward optimal intestinal health and keeping your thyroid and estrogen levels steady.

[1] Werhun., A., et al. “Thyroid function testing in primary care: overused and under-evidenced? A study examining which clinical features correspond to an abnormal thyroid function result.” Family practice 32, no. 2 (2015): 187-91.

[2] Key TJ. “Endogenous oestrogens and breast cancer risk in premenopausal and postmenopausal women.” Steroids 76, no. 8 (2011): 812–15.

[3] Hollingshead JR, Phillips RK. Haemorrhoids: modern diagnosis and treatment. Postgraduate Medicine 92, no. 1083 (2016):4-8.

[4] Dimidi, E., et al. “The effect of probiotics on functional constipation in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, July 3, 2014.

[5] Oishi, K., et al. “Effect of probiotics, Bifidobacterium breve and Lactobacillus casei, on bisphenol A exposure in rats.” Bioscience, biotechnology, and biochemistry 72, no. 6 (2008): 1409-15

[6] Arnaud, M.J. “Mild hydration: A risk factor of constipation?” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 57, no. 2 (2003): S88-S95.

[7] Mertz, H. “Stress and the Gut.” UNC Center for Functional GI and Motility Disorders, 2011

https://books.google.ie/books?id=-iH-CAAAQBAJ&pg=PA67&lpg=PA67&dq=60000+man+made+chemicals+in+environment?&source=bl&ots=J7N4GDUOBh&sig=R7EissdoTICKbjI-jTeJ_IJvT_0&hl=ga&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwihktTJ6YTZAhWbOsAKHY1vDbYQ6AEIKzAB

 

 

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