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    The inside scoop on your period poop

    In this guest post, intuitive nutrition coach, hormone guru, and incredibly gorgeous human, Renata Trebing of Nourish With Renata, answers all the questions you've secretly been wanting to ask about bowel movements during your period. 

    Toilet paper for an article about bowel movements during your menstrual cycle

    Ever notice that things take a turn for the worse in the bowel department when your period starts? Approximately 73% of women experience changes in their digestive system regularity during their period.

    *Cue the Bridesmaids scene: “It’s coming out of me like lava!!!”*

    But why does this happen? And what can you do about it? 

    Bowel movement changes during your bleed phase occur because of prostaglandins. These fatty acids help the smooth muscle of the uterus to contract and allow the shedding of the uterine lining. 

    However, prostaglandins don’t just work on the uterus alone. Due to the proximity of the uterus to intestines, prostaglandins also help the smooth muscle of the colon to contract faster - causing more bowel movements to occur. The obvious downside of this is that you may poop more during the first few days of your bleed phase. Many women experience diarrhoea because of it. In addition, the prostaglandins may also cause an increase in menstrual cramps. 

    On the other hand, some women may experience constipation during their bleed phase. There’s a couple of reasons why this may occur.

    1. Firstly, if your progesterone levels are high, this can slow the time it takes for foods to work through your gastrointestinal tract, leading to constipation.
    2. Secondly, if estrogen levels are high, we might absorb more water and salt from our bowels, leading to more difficulty in passing the dehydrated stool. 

    So what can you do to help navigate these GI changes during your bleed phase? 

    For me, I always come back to food! As Hippocrates said, “let food be thy medicine, let medicine be thy food.

    Food can have a huge healing effect on the body, when you know which ones to eat.

    So here are my 3 tips on how to alleviate the period poops:

    1. Stay hydrated: Whether your period poops are due to changing hormones levels or prostaglandins, keeping up with your daily water intake can have a profound impact to all your organs, including your digestive system. We know that just a 10% reduction in hydration starts causing an impact to your mental clarity! Pretty amazing, right? I like to recommend drinking at least half your body weight in oz. of water per day. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs, your daily water goal is 150 / 2 = 75 oz. #mathforthewin
    2. Fun with fiber: Estrogen is normally eliminated from the body through regular bowel movements. However, if you’re not having regular bowel movements, your body can reabsorb that estrogen leading to estrogen dominance. You can manage this by including lots of fiber in your daily eating. For women, aim for at least 25g fiber daily. An easy way of increasing fiber is by eating more cruciferous vegetables. Some of my faves are broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, brussel sprouts and bok choy. These veggies pack more fiber-power in a similar volume of other produce, as well as additional benefits like helping to eliminate toxins from the body. Increasing fiber can also help to bulk up stools which can be helpful for minimizing loose bowel movements. Try my Broccoli Salad recipe below! 
    3. Seed cycling: Did you know that certain seeds can actually help to balance your hormones naturally? This practice is called seed cycling and is a holistic health method used by many women with fantastic results. Certain components in the seeds help to regulate hormone production when the seeds are consumed consistently over time. For your menstrual and follicular phases (circa days 1-14 of your cycle), it’s recommended to have 1-2 tbsp each of flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds per day. For your ovulatory and luteal phases (circa days 15-28 of your cycle), it is recommended to have 1-2 tbsp each of sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds per day. 

    The bottom line is, if you’re experiencing period poops… congrats! You’re not alone! And try out these tips above to help manage your GI changes during this time of the month. 

    GI-FRIENDLY RECIPE: BROCCOLI, APPLE  & KALE SALAD

    Servings: 6 people

    Ingredients:

    • 1 medium sized head broccoli, cut into small florets
    • 1 apple, chopped into bite sized pieces
    • 4 cups of kale, finely sliced
    • 2 carrots, chopped into bite sized pieces
    • ½ cup pecans, roughly chopped
    • ½ cup dried cranberries or raisins
    • Protein of choice: chicken breast, turkey, boiled eggs, chickpeas etc.

    For the dressing:

    • 1 tsp dijon mustard
    • 1 tbsp stevia or honey
    • ½ cup light mayo or greek yogurt
    • 2 tbsp lemon juice
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 tsp salt
    • ½ tsp black pepper

    Instructions:

    1. In a large bowl, add the broccoli, apple, kale and carrots. Toss together to combine.
    2. In a mason jar, add all the dressing ingredients, place the lid on the jar and tighten. Shake well to combine thoroughly.
    3. Pour the dressing over the salad in the large bowl and carefully mix together till all the salad ingredients are lightly coated by the dressing.
    4. Garnish the salad with the chopped pecans and dried cranberries or raisins.
    5. To serve the salad, add some salad to your plate and top with your protein choice.

    Want to tap into hormone harmony? Check out Renata's Love Your Cycle Program: a four-month transformational group program to empower women with their cycle health. Visit Renata's website for a treasure trove of delicious recipes and more excellent advice like above. 

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