I’m nearing the end of my pregnancy (thank goodness! I’m due Nov. 17th) and I’ve been preparing for baby Huggins to come over the last several weeks. We are nearly all set and ready for him to come. Now, if only he would turn out of breech position! Fingers crossed that all our tricks work to move him.
I wanted to address something that recently came up in my Sugar Smackdown tele-class. A student was sharing that every month, about a week before her period, she gets constipated. Like clockwork. And that even drinking more water doesn’t help to get things moving.
Having a bowel movement is more a matter of physiology and chemistry than water or fiber acting like a broom and “sweeping” stool through the GI system.
Common causes of constipation are:
- bacterial endotoxin in the gut
- high estrogen, low progesterone
- low oxygen in the GI system
- low CO2 in the GI system
- bowel inflammation
When the cells of the intestine are inflamed, they become more permeable and take up more water. In other words, water leaves the intestine and gets absorbed into the intestinal walls. This causes swelling of the intestinal “tube” and decreases the space inside the intestine for waste to move through. In addition, this leaves your stool hard and dry.
While it might seem logical to drink more water, this will actually make things worse as more water will simply be absorbed into the wall of the intestine.
In the case of my Sugar Smackdown student, her constipation is cyclical and not chronic. And is most likely the result of higher than normal estrogen in the GI system a week to 10 days prior to her period.
High estrogen displaces oxygen and CO2 and reduces intestinal motility. This slows down the smooth muscle contraction of the intestine, known as peristalsis, and results in constipation.
How would drinking more water help? It wouldn’t!
If you’re experiencing chronic or cyclical constipation it’s important to address it from the root cause. Reducing GI inflammation and balancing your hormones is crucial to remedy constipation in the long-term.