Dear Joyous Reader,
Hopefully by now you've read “Natural Solutions for Food Cravings” during PMS. Over the next few weeks I will also write about: mood swings, irritability, anxiety, depression, acne, weight gain and water retention. Today I'm writing about constipation as many women suffer from it during PMS, and some all month long as evidenced by laxative sales.
Why does it happen during PMS?
Physiologically, during PMS the uterus swells, putting pressure on surrounding organs, such as the intestinal tract, causing constipation and digestive issues. Hormone, neurotransmitter and calcium levels can all affect the function of the intestine and more specifically peristalsis, which is the contractions your intestines do to move fecal matter through the digestive tract. This slowing down of peristalsis can result in constipation and slow transit time.
From a hormone perspective, progesterone is the main culprit of digestive upset during PMS. This hormone increases after ovulation and starts to decrease until the levels drop enough to trigger menstruation. Symptoms of bloating, gas and constipation can be a result of this change in hormone levels during your period.
Constipation can worsen the other PMS symptoms because it leads to reabsorption of estrogen back into your blood so it’s important to address it in order to balance out other issues.
Clean up your diet.
Ditch refined carbohydrates, sugar, fried and processed foods.
Water water water.
Your digestive system needs water to break down food effectively and move it through the intestines, for easy elimination and preventing build-up and constipation. Dehydration causes constipation.
Eat fiber rich foods.
Flax, chia, whole grains, fruits and veggies, prunes, figs, beans, lentils and hemp seeds add extra bulk to stools which allows for a more effective transit through the intestinal system. There are 2 types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble helps to soften stools, so choose foods such as oatmeal, chia, apples, apricots, bananas, blueberries, peaches, prunes. Insoluble adds bulk to stool and helps stimulate peristalsis (contractions), foods such as grains, seeds, skins of fruits and vegetables like celery. Try the Overnight Strawberry Chia pudding from my book or this banana chia pudding.
Don't eat by the clock, listen to your body.
This is a big mistake a lot of people make. They think they need to be eating every 2 to 3 hours and this is simply not true. Eating when you are not hungry depletes digestive enzymes and stomach acid. This means your gut is lacking in adequate chemicals to move food through. Therefore, this slows down your gut. But be careful because going too long without eating encourages overeating.
Love thy liver.
This will ensure your body rids itself of excess estrogen. Eat leafy greens, beets, bitter greens such as dandelion. A healthy liver encourages the release of bile which helps to emulsify fats, carries digestive enzymes into the digestive tract, and stimulates peristalsis action by the walls of the gut.
Eat organic food.
This will eliminate estrogens from pesticides which mess with your hormones.
Don't eat within 2 to 3 hours of bedtime.
I know this is a tough one for many, but at night your metabolism and your digestive system slows right down. Eat a large meal before bed and this is a recipe for constipation and slow digestion.
Enjoy foods high in pectin.
Apples, carrots, beets, bananas, cabbage, citrus, dried peas and okra. Pectin is a source of fiber that helps to correct constipation.
And finally, limit intake of extra salt, dairy, alcohol, spicy foods, and caffeine.
AVOID LAXATIVES: Your digestive system becomes lazy and reliant on help from laxatives. They can promote dehydration and dependency. Avoid at all costs.