How Constipation Has An Essential Role In Hormonal Balance

Balance, hormones and constipation

How Constipation Has An Essential Role In Hormonal Balance

No one knows quite how this happened, but about 5 years ago, beavers reappeared in England, 400 years after their extinction on the island. They faced been removed, but the Devon Wildlife Trust won a 5 years licence to study them and their impact on the environment. Beavers are well known for their building ability. As they erect their burrows, they are creating dams and pools. This changes the landscape around them, and farmers feared the dams could flood agricultural lands.

But the study showed that the opposite happened. When beavers are building their lodges, they are also working as natural flood defence, helping manage the risk of flooding. In doing so, beavers won their ‘right to remain’ in English rivers.

Because of various anatomical reasons, women are more likely to suffer from constipation. Just like the beavers’ dams creating a pool behind them, constipation leads to a build-up in the intestines. This, in turn, has some substantial effect on hormone levels and contributes to oestrogen dominance. In this article, we will review:

      • What oestrogen dominance is
      • Why oestrogen dominance is an issue
      • How constipation is one of the causes of oestrogen dominance
      • How you can support the digestive system to ease constipation and less oestrogen dominance.

 

Oestrogen dominance is having too much oestrogen in the body relatively to progesterone.

 

Oestrogen is known as the ‘female’ hormone. With progesterone, it is the primary hormone regulating the female menstrual cycle. It affects the entire reproductive system.

Both progesterone and oestrogen go up and down during a woman’s menstrual cycle, often in opposition to each other. When there is too much oestrogen in relation to progesterone, we are talking about oestrogen dominance. This can happen because there is too much oestrogen in the body or because progesterone levels are low.

Perimenopause and menopause are two times in a woman’s life when women are likely to experience oestrogen dominance as progesterone levels drop more quickly than oestrogen levels. But this situation can happen at any other time in a woman’s life.

 

Oestrogen dominance is at the root of many symptoms.

 

Oestrogen dominance affects the body directly and can give some of the symptoms below:

  • Weight Gain (especially abdominal weight)
  • Fatigue
  • Low Libido (low sex drive)
  • Mood Swings
  • Hot Flushes
  • Night Sweats
  • Headaches/Migraines
  • Tender Breasts
  • Insomnia
  • Bone Loss
  • Irregular Bleeding
  • Bloating
  • Hair Loss
  • Inflammation
  • Brain Fog
  • PMS
  • Irritability
  • Cold Hands and Feet

 

Oestrogen dominance is also be at the root of many illnesses such as breast, ovarian and uterine cancer, endometriosis, thyroid disease, blood clots, PCOS and infertility or some auto immune disease such as lupus or MS (1).

The causes of oestrogen dominance are varied.

 

Many different factors are affecting the levels of oestrogen in the body. One contributing factor to oestrogen dominance is xenoestrogen, a human-made chemical that is very close in structure to oestrogen. They are mimicking our natural hormones and disrupt our hormonal balance. They can be found in some plastic, drugs, herbicides or some skincare products!

Some medications, such as oestrogen replacement therapy also increase oestrogen levels in the body. Our fat cells are an internal source of oestrogen in the body too (2).

 

But a critical cause of high oestrogen levels is impaired oestrogen metabolism.

 

As oestrogen is produced in the body, any excess is normally eliminated through a complex detoxification process. The first step happens in the liver where oestrogen is bound to a molecule to facilitate its excretion. It is then sent into the bowels to travel with food through the whole of the intestines.

 

However, a small part of the oestrogen is reabsorbed in the intestines.

 

The longer the oestrogen is staying in the intestines, the more oestrogen is reabsorbed. Just like the beavers building a burrow creates a pool behind it, constipation creates a backlog in the intestines. It allows oestrogen levels to build up again in the bloodstream. This is why constipation is so crucial to oestrogen detoxification and its regulation (3)

 

Easing constipation can help regulate oestrogen levels.

 

Maintaining regularity in bowels movement is a crucial step in hormone balance. And food is one of the best allies to combat constipation.

 

Fibre Fibre binds to oestrogen increasing elimination through the faeces.

Fibre lower transit time in the colon and eases constipation.

Soluble fibre found in beans, oats, barley, citrus fruit, apples, strawberries and peas.

Probiotics Not having enough of the ‘good bacteria’ such as  Bifidobacteria (4). A supplement including some prebiotics as well as Bifidobacteria might help ease constipation.

Fermented foods are also full of probiotics. These include sauerkraut, miso, kefir or kombucha.

Bitter foods Bitter foods encourage the production of digestive enzymes, including bile acids, which are a natural laxative (5).

Bitter foods include cruciferous vegetables (kale, cabbage, broccoli, Brussel sprouts..) coffee, cacao (dark!) or green tea as well as teas made of chamomile or dandelion.

 

Last but not least, a great way to reduce constipation is … to relax.

 

Stress, through the production of cortisol, has a considerable impact on the digestive system. As the fight or fly mechanism is set into motion, the body is redirecting all its energy towards ‘running away from the tiger’. That means more energy for the heart or the muscles and less energy for the less essential functions such as the digestive system.

Eating slowly and mindfully will help the whole of the digestion, including constipation. Having some activity that will help reducing stress will also make a difference. This includes having a nice warm bath with Epsom salts, doing some (gentle) exercise or yoga or having a massage.

 

In summary, oestrogen balance and constipation are strongly linked.

 

  • Constipation increases reuptake of oestrogen by the body.
  • You can ease constipation through foods
  • Increasing fibre, pre and probiotic foods and bitter greens can help
  • Reducing stress is also key to relieving constipation.

 

 

Are you currently struggling with hormonal issues and don’t know which advice is the right one for you? Give me a call to book a free consultation, and we will talk about how nutrition could help you.

 

You might also be interested in:

 

Why feeding your gut flora is the best thing you can do right now

Why constipation is a common sign of PMS

 

 

References:

  1. Patel S, Homaei A, Raju AB, Meher BR. Estrogen: The necessary evil for human health, and ways to tame it
  2. Cleary MP, Grossmann ME. Minireview: Obesity and breast cancer: The estrogen connection
  3. Lewis SJ, Heaton KW, Oakey RE, McGarrigle HHG. Lower serum oestrogen concentrations associated with faster intestinal transit.
  4. Ohkusa T, Koido S, Nishikawa Y, Sato N. Gut microbiota and chronic constipation: A review and update
  5. Wald A. Bile Acids and Bowel Function: Do They Play a Role in Constipation-Associated Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

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