Your Complete Guide to Causes of Constipation and Finding Relief – Part 4: Metabolic Disorders - Thyroid & Diabetes

Your Complete Guide to Causes of Constipation and Finding Relief – Part 4: Metabolic Disorders – Thyroid & Diabetes

Your Complete Guide to Causes of Constipation and Finding Relief – Part 4: Metabolic Disorders – Thyroid & Diabetes

Though constipation seems like a simple discomfort that can be easily blamed on something you ate and readily remedied by over the counter stool softeners, it’s actually a condition that shouldn’t be taken so lightly. Recurring constipation is usually a sign of an underlying condition that could be very serious.

Defined as less than three stool movements per week, constipation blocks new nutrients from passing through your body and can lead to compounding health consequences.

So in addition to potential health issues causing your constipation, leaving it untreated could add complications, which can make identifying the original cause of the constipation difficult. This is the compounding nature of constipation due to the fact that it impacts overall gut health, which is why it’s important to bring it up with your doctor.

In this six-part series, we are investigating the different causes of constipation so we can help you identify the problem and find you lasting constipation relief. In parts one through four, we looked at low hydrochloric acid, low bile flow, and dysbiosis (imbalanced gut microflora).

You can read part 1part 2 and part 3 from Dr Klimenko’s blog.

In part four of this series, we are going to look at the different metabolic disorders that can cause chronic constipation. We will examine diabetes and hypothyroidism and examine how we can influence better digestion despite these disorders.

What helps constipation is completely dependent on the underlying cause, so let’s take a closer look at constipation caused by metabolic disorders.

Part 4: Metabolic Disorders

Constipation is the most common gastrointestinal issue in America, impacting as many as 63 million people. Nearly everyone will experience constipation at some point in their life. In fact, you shouldn’t worry about your constipation unless it lasts longer than 10 days or it becomes a reoccurring issue.

A metabolic disorder can occur when there are abnormal chemical reactions occurring in the body (such as hormones), which then alter metabolic processes. Metabolic disorders may be present when you born or may be developed or diagnosed later in life.

Gut microflora is very important to metabolic processes, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that constipation would be a symptom that commonly accompanies metabolic disorders.

The two metabolic disorders we want to focus on are diabetes and hypothyroidism – these are well known to cause chronic constipation if go undiagnosed and untreated.

Diabetes and Constipation

Constipation in diabetics is a common complication of the disease. Poor blood sugar control, nerve damage, and medications are all factors of diabetes that can lead to constipation.

Studies have found that people with diabetes are 60 percent more likely to experience constipation. When your constipation is related to diabetes, in conventional medicine your treatment will be to focus on long term solutions, which may include stool softeners and laxatives.

When there’s elevated sugar level in a diabetic, this slows down digestion and peristalsis of the intestine so sugar does not absorb into the bloodstream too fast, which further increases overall blood sugar levels. This is your body’s innate defense mechanism trying to reduce the rate of sugar elevation after the meal.

Lifestyle choices regarding diet and aiding your body in metabolism regulation is going to be the solution to helping reduce your constipation episodes. Work closely with your doctor to manage these metabolic processes and listen to your body to work with it, not against it.

If you’re diabetic or suffer from constipation and suspect you’re diabetic, it’s important to make an appointment with your doctor to look into these suspicions. Also keep in mind that the earlier you catch your diagnosis and implement necessary  changes the better because you can prevent damage and work to counterbalance the impact of your diabetes.

Thyroid Disorders and Constipation

Constipation is often one of the first apparent symptom of an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism). Your thyroid is responsible for producing important hormones that impact your metabolism and when there isn’t sufficient production it can cause the muscles that move your stool through the gastrointestinal system to become weak.

If you have already been diagnosed with an underactive thyroid, it’s also important to look at your gut health if you are experiencing chronic constipation. Certain gut bacteria is essential to converting T4 hormone to T3, which is needed for proper metabolism and digestion. Have your doctor check your thyroid if you experience regular issues with constipation.

Home Remedies for Constipation Caused by Metabolic Disorders

There are some natural remedies for constipation caused by metabolic disorders you can start at home. However, because each disorder is inherently different it’s a good idea to incorporate these suggestions under the supervision of your regular doctor (if she or he know what to do) or seek for a certified functional medicine doctor to get a thorough evaluation. Natural remedies for constipation that are also safe for those with metabolic disorders include:

  • Adding good fiber to your diet
  • Drink more water
  • Increase physical activity
  • Careful blood sugar management
  • Heal your gut microflora imbalance
  • Consider trying gluten and dairy free diets
  • Be sure you’re getting enough healthy fats
  • Take magnesium supplements
  • Try starting your day with warm lemon water

Unlike low stomach acid, where we recommended an apple cider vinegar test, you’ll have to be tested in-office for metabolic disorders. How to get rid of constipation completely depends on the cause, so get tested early and you may save yourself a lot of discomfort down the road.

When to See Your Functional Medicine Doctor for Constipation

Your certified functional medicine doctor is your best ally in helping you figure out how to get rid of constipation once and for all. Treating constipation alone means you’re only treating the symptom and not the underlying cause. If you want long term relief, especially if you suspect your constipation is due to a metabolic disorder, see your doctor and get a diagnosis earlier rather than later.

Check for thyroid issues and diabetes if you experience long lasting or chronic constipation. And be sure to tell your doctor how often and for how long you’re affected by constipation to help them gain a clear understanding of you condition. Your certified functional medicine doctor helps you identify the underlying cause and build a comprehensive treatment plan so you can find lasting comfort and relief.

Elena Klimenko, MD, a certified functional medicine physician, will help you choose the right course of action to identify the root cause and relief your unsettled symptoms. Call today to find out more about functional medicine and speak with Dr. Klimenko at 212-696- HEAL(4325).

If you want more information about Functional Medicine, contact us to receive a FREE copy of Dr Klimenko’s E-book.


Reflexology for Thyroid Health

Reflexology for Thyroid Health

Reflexology is a gentle, complementary and alternative medical (CAM) therapy in which pressure is placed along reflex points on the feet, lower leg, hands, face, or ears. A Reflex Map identifies various reflex points and corresponding regions or systems throughout the body. A certified reflexologist uses specific patterns of touch and pressure to stimulate these points.

The theory that underlies reflexology is that stimulation of the reflex points opens the flow of energy (referred to as Life Force or Chi) and nutrients throughout the body. It is believed that reflexology taps into the body’s natural healing process by enhancing the functioning of the lymphatic system (a major part of the immune system), which helps move fluids and waste products from within the tissues into the circulatory system, ultimately for excretion from the body.

Generally, reflexology is suitable for everyone, from newborn babies to those receiving end of life care. A reflexologist tailors each session to the individual, taking into account both physical and emotional factors that might be affecting you. Reflexologists aim to work alongside both allopathic and holistic healthcare practitioners to promote well-being for their clients.

CAM researchers have investigated reflexology for a variety of health conditions, such as breast cancer, diabetes, anxiety, back pain, menstrual issues, post-operative recovery, chronic fatigue, and thyroid dysfunction. The premise for treating thyroid conditions with reflexology is that opening the energy flow through the thyroid gland can balance both hyperthyroid and hypothyroid conditions by supporting the gland in regulating homeostasis, the body’s ideal state of equilibrium. In some studies of thyroid goiter or cancer, reflexology reduced pain and promoted relaxation, which can boost healing.

While there have been promising results in many case studies (of just one person or a small group), there is still a need for further research to definitively indicate the effectiveness of reflexology for treating illness.


The Butterfly Inside You: The Tiny, Mighty Thyroid Gland

The Butterfly Inside You: The Tiny, Mighty Thyroid Gland

A busy butterfly lives just below your Adam’s apple that is responsible for the regulation of your inner state of balance, or homeostasis. Like a butterfly, the thyroid quietly goes about its business without getting much attention until your doctor checks it with her hands during a routine exam. Unless something unusual is found at that time (e.g., swelling) or symptoms manifest that indicate a problem, there won’t be much further ado about your thyroid.

Let’s take a moment to find out what the thyroid does, how to know if there’s a problem, and how to keep your thyroid healthy.

The thyroid is part of the endocrine system, which includes the pituitary gland, hypothalamus, thymus, pineal gland, testes, ovaries, adrenal glands, parathyroid, and pancreas. It makes hormones (e.g., T3, T4) that travel through your bloodstream and regulate your metabolism, brain and heart function, and reproductive and menstrual cycles.

When the thyroid is not functioning properly, a chain reaction of hormonal events takes place that involves many other glands/hormones of the endocrine system and the bodily systems they regulate. The end result is one of two primary types of health conditions: hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.

Hyperthyroidism results when the thyroid is overactive. Think of hyperthyroidism like a butterfly that can’t stop fluttering its wings. Everything is on overdrive, including metabolism, frequency of bowels, emotions (anxiousness), increased sweating, and–for lady butterflies only–very light menstruation or cessation of the menstrual cycle. This butterfly often feels hot and can’t maintain a healthy weight. There are also bouts of exhaustion from trying to maintain this intense state of arousal.

Hypothyroidism results when the thyroid is underactive. This butterfly just can’t get its wings to go. It’s gained weight, feels sluggish, and has brittle hair and nails. It feels cold and tired, is kind of depressed, and suffers from constipation. The lady butterflies usually have irregular, heavy menstruation.

5 Ways to Keep Your Thyroid Healthy

  1. Eat from the sea. The sea provides many natural sources of iodine, a building block of the thyroid hormone. Salt has a high concentration of iodine, but it can raise blood pressure. Instead, opt for saltwater fish, or try seaweed in a salad. Cod and halibut are high in selenium, which protects the thyroid gland during periods of stress and helps regulate hormone synthesis. Fish oil provides essential fatty acids that reduce inflammation, which plays a role in causing autoimmune diseases.
  2. Eat from the earth. Eat foods high in B vitamins, which are precursors to thyroid hormones and influence cell energy. Balance your diet with poultry, nuts and seeds, legumes, and whole grains. Red meat provides iron, zinc, magnesium, and other minerals essential for thyroid hormone function, and the health of other bodily systems affected by thyroid disorders (skin, hair, metabolism).
  3. Relax. A daily relaxation practice, such as just 10 minutes a day of silence and deep breathing, can make a difference in the state of mind and body.
  4. Move it! Exercise at least 30 minutes a day. Yoga is particularly good for thyroid health, including poses such as butterfly, fish pose, shoulder stand, and child’s pose.
  5. Get supplemental insurance. Our diets aren’t perfect, so supplementing with a vitamin/mineral or botanical (herb) regimen can provide extra insurance against exposure to stress, toxins, and perhaps your own family history. Be sure to consult with your wellness practitioner about the best nutraceutical products for you.