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Part 2 of PMS: Natural Solutions for Constipation

—  found in  Well-being  —

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.

Promo Block

Dietary Recommendations:

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.

Nutritional Supplements:

  • EPA/DHA (omega 3 fats) — Take 1,000 mg once or twice a day. Helps to restore fatty acid balance to aid bowel movements.
  • Aloe Vera – healing and cleansing to the digestive tract, softens stools.
  • Ginger – Stimulates digestive system, eases passage of food through intestines.
  • Probiotics are essential for helping your overall digestion.
  • Magnesium citrate or glycinate — Take 400 to 600 mg a day.

AVOID LAXATIVES: Your digestive system becomes lazy and reliant on help from laxatives. They can promote dehydration and dependency. Avoid at all costs.

Lifestyle Recommendations:

  • Regular exercise is recommended which can help reduce stress and help your digestive system function more smoothly by improving blood and oxygen circulation throughout the body, including the pelvis and intestines.
  • Keeping a diary of GI symptoms prior to and during your period may help you identify patterns with symptoms and food/exercise/behaviors and then a plan can be developed to optimize or avoid certain things during these times to minimize symptoms. 
  • Never repress the urge to have a bowel movement.
  • Massaging the lower abdominal area can help move things along, as well as using a heating bottle to ease cramping.
  • Yoga helps to increase circulation and improve digestion. Here are some of my favourite yoga poses I recommend for constipation.

Sources:

  • http://central.pmsquiz.com/constipation-pms
  • http://www.medicinenet.com/constipation/page3.htm
  • http://www.everydayhealth.com/digestive-health/constipation/complications-of-constipation.aspx
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1773170/
  • http://www.constipationexperts.co.uk/remedies/benefits-of-probiotics.html
  • http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/premenstrual-syndrome/basics/lifestyle-home-remedies/con-20020003
  • http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/premenstrual-syndrome/basics/alternative-medicine/con-20020003
  • Prescription for Nutritional Healing – Phyllis A Balch

14 Comments
Bara   •   February 28, 2014

Hello Joy, love your blog and your book, I´ve followed all the rules for over a year, but recently I feel bitter taste in my mouth and struggle with bad breath. Could you recommend any good probiotics you can buy in Europe? Genestra is not avaible. Same as with Santevia pitcher. Some recommendation of good filtration system you can get in Europe? Thanks a lot, I´m joining 10day detox program last minute ). B.

Reply

Joyous Health   •   March 2, 2014

[…] this series on natural solutions for PMS. So far I’ve written about food cravings and constipation. Today’s post is all about natural solutions to promote a joyous mood. Many women suffer from […]

Reply

ina   •   March 11, 2014

Very useful information, especially the dietary recommendations. I had problems with constipation for 7 years but everything has changed when I modified my dietary habits.

Reply

bridget   •   September 29, 2015

Im only 14 years old and haven't pood in a couple days so I was totally freaking out thinking I was gonna die from my intestines exploding or something so thanks for writing this article because it was much needed.

Reply

Heather   •   November 9, 2017

Very helpful and insightful info. Thank you.

Reply
Rachel Molenda   •   November 9, 2017

Rabyah   •   November 18, 2017

I reallyfound this helpful. And now I know why I get constipation during my period.

Reply
Rachel Molenda   •   November 21, 2017

Heather   •   January 14, 2018

Ugh. It’s SO frustrating because I literally do ALL of these things and I’m still plagued by it.

Reply
Rachel Molenda   •   January 15, 2018

Tiffany Simone   •   May 26, 2018

This Blog is very helpful.

Reply

natty   •   December 30, 2018

Nothing helps me. Cant afford a naturopath.

Reply
Joy McCarthy   •   December 30, 2018

kelli   •   May 18, 2019

Nothing helps me either

Reply

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