There is a condition that many people suffer with yet don’t want to discuss, not even with their doctors: constipation. True, nobody wants to discuss their bowel movements, but it can actually be a very important part of your overall health and an indication of just how well your thyroid is functioning.
It can be hard to determine if you’re actually constipated because there are different definitions of what constipation actually is. Some physicians equate it to having 3 or less bowel movements a week while others believe it has to do with how difficult it is to go and if the stool is hard. Other symptoms typically associated with constipation include the feeling of the bowel movement being incomplete, needing to go more, but not being able to; abdominal bloating, and gas.
A recent article posted in Yahoo Health went over various remedies for constipation. Unfortunately, not one of those remedies was to have your thyroid checked. While your diet plays a big part in the number of bowel movements you have, thyroid function is just as important.
The thyroid affects many of the body’s functions including digestion. If there isn’t enough of the thyroid hormone being produced or absorbed (hypothyroidism), you are left with constipation, among many other symptoms. This happens because the thyroid hormone assists the contractions of the muscles in the digestive tract that help move the stool through. Without those hormones, the muscles can weaken.
It’s important to rectify this problem because chronic constipation is a real issue and can lead to some serious problems including enlarged hemorrhoids and an increased risk of colorectal cancer. Thankfully, there are some things you can do to make going possible and easier.
First, get your thyroid checked! If you already have and you know you have a thyroid problem, but are still experiencing constipation, you may need to talk to your doctor in order to optimize your thyroid treatment. It’s important to speak with a doctor that is willing to run the necessary tests and prescribe the right type of thyroid medication that will work for you.
As stated earlier, diet does play a huge role in digestion. What types of food are you eating? Are they high in fiber? Many individuals are unaware of the amount of fiber that needs to be consumed on a daily basis. Women need about 25 grams of fiber per day while men need 38. This really doesn’t seem like much, but according to The Institute of Medicine, most Americans only eat about 15 grams of fiber per day! Some foods that you may want to considering implementing into your diet include bran, berries, leafy greens, and cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, etc.). Unfortunately, there is a down side to implementing some of these foods: they can negatively affect your thyroid. Some of the foods that are high in fiber are also known as goitrogens, substances that disrupt thyroid hormone production. Monitor your intake on these foods and if you are unable to get enough in your diet, try a fiber supplement.
Another thing you should consider when diagnosing your digestion woes are probiotics. Probiotics are microbial organisms in the digestive tract that are necessary to properly digest food, you can think of them as helpful bacteria. Along with adding fiber, you should consider implementing probiotics into your diet. You can find them in fermented foods like sauerkraut, cottage cheese, and yogurt (not the sugary kind).
There are other things you can do to avoid constipation and digestion problems; however, it is always important to get to the root of the problem instead of just using remedies to mask them. If you suffer from constipation, talk to your doctor about what the problem might be and check your thyroid.