Whether you're a woman or a man, the colon and digestive system are essential to the overall health of your body. But that doesn't mean there aren't differences in how these systems function between sexes.
Women digest their food much slower than men-about 14 hours slower.
Since women digest their food slower, women are also more likely to experience bloating and nausea. Not only that, but women's colons also take a longer time to empty than men. This leads to more constipation and a higher risk of experiencing irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Do any of these unpleasant symptoms sound familiar to you? While it doesn't seem fair that men have it easier, that doesn't mean women can't work to improve their bowel movements. Keep reading for a complete guide to colon and digestive health for women, including tips for healthy digestion and less bloating.
Before learning about ways to promote a healthy gut and healthy colon, it can be helpful to first review the exact role the digestive and colon systems play in your body. The digestive system runs from your mouth to your anus, taking undigested food, breaking it down, and delivering nutrients to your body.
Your body needs a certain amount of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates to function. Healthy digestion includes breaking down different portions of food to nourish your body.
After food is broken down in the stomach, it starts to move through the intestines. Any extra water is absorbed while food is broken down yet again by enzymes and bile. Now the food moves through the intestines to the colon.
As mentioned previously, it takes a longer time for waste to pass through a women's colon. This is mainly due to the difference in hormones between a man and a woman, but it's also the reason why many women experience more issues with bowel movements than men.
Many things happen to a woman's body when she's menstruating or on her period. These hormonal and physiological changes also impact the digestion and colon system.
Some of these changes occur just before or during menstruation, like increased muscle contractions in your intestines and bowels. Both of these body parts are close to the uterus. So, right before your period, it's not uncommon to experience more frequent bowel movements or stomach cramps.
Another hormonal change that women experience is an increase in progesterone right before their period begins. For some women, this can affect the GI tract in a way that causes constipation or diarrhea.
The rise in progesterone can also cause an increase in cravings, especially for high fat or high sugar foods. This can exacerbate the digestion process for women since these foods are harder to break down. It can also affect your bowel movements.
Probably one of the more common period symptoms among women is mood swings. Many women may feel more anxious, emotional, or stressed during their period. As with most things, this increase in stress isn't great for the body.
Stress affects your bowel movements, so it's important to try to stay as relaxed and stress-free as possible no matter the time of the month.
If your GI system has been out of whack, chances are you're familiar with many of the symptoms and problems listed below.
Have you ever felt like you need to go, but when you finally sit down, nothing happens? Constipation makes it harder to have bowel movements, causing infrequent or incomplete stools. Not to mention, it's also a very uncomfortable feeling.
Another common problem among women, diarrhea can cause watery, more frequent stools that last for weeks. Your diet, level of colon health, level of inflammation, and medications can all cause diarrhea.
Bloating is frequently accompanied by the two problems just covered. It's another uncomfortable symptom that makes your stomach feel uncomfortably full. It's usually caused by excess gas or air when gas builds up in the digestive tract.
Speaking of gas, excess gas is exactly what it sounds like: passing gas more than usual. This can be an embarrassing problem, although it shouldn't be. Everyone experiences digestion issues every once in a while.
The key is maintaining great colon and digestive health so you can avoid dealing with more gas than usual.
If your body isn't able to break down food as efficiently, it can lead to weight gain. The good news? Any weight gained from GI issues can usually be lost once the same issues resolve or improve.
If you're feeling sluggish or just don't have your usual level of energy, it could be due to issues in your gut. Without proper nutrients, your body isn't able to function as well which leads to tiredness.
Many women who experience IBS also have irregular periods. IBS can also worsen PMS symptoms.
The more unhealthy your gut, the more unhealthy your skin can be. This can cause acne, spots, eczema, and other skin issues.
Finally, if your gut is acting up, your body might not be able to absorb nutrients properly which is a big problem. Lack of nutrients can lead to a whole host of health problems, namely lack of energy, fatigue, or bloating.
Now, it's time to dive into ways to improve digestive and colon health. So, if you're experiencing any of the problems just listed, take comfort in the fact that there is usually something you can do about it.
Antioxidants do many great things for your body, but they can also work their magic on your gut. By increasing antioxidant intake, you can boost your gut health by helping control inflammation and supporting the growth of healthy bacteria.
How do you do this? Eat more superfoods like berries, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
A high-fiber diet helps ward off constipation and bloating by boosting your digestive health. It's recommended that your daily fiber intake should be around 25 to 30 grams a day, coming mostly from food and not supplements.
Eat plenty of grains, cereals, legumes, beans, fruits, and veggies to up your fiber intake.
You should enjoy all foods in moderation, but just because something tastes good doesn't mean it's easy for your body to digest. Smoking, excess alcohol, sugar, artificial sweeteners, and processed food are all harder for your body to digest. This can lead to many of the problems outlined earlier.
So, if you've been experiencing bloating, constipation, or other GI issues, check what you're eating. Chances are, you might be consuming an unhealthy diet.
If you're lactose intolerant, avoid eating dairy. This can wreak havoc on your digestive system, causing diarrhea or severe constipation. Or, if you're not exactly intolerant to any one food or food group, but you notice your body acts up when you consume that food, try your best to avoid it.
Allergy tests can be a great way to identify what you may be allergic to if you are experiencing GI issues but aren't sure what's causing it. Many people who are allergic to gluten or can't digest it well experience chronic GI issues.
Luckily, nowadays, there are plenty of gluten and dairy-free options at grocery stores and restaurants.
Water is extremely important to not only women's health, but everyone's body in general. Drinking plenty of water also helps your body digest food better. Aim to drink at least 12 to 14 cups of water a day.
It's important to know if you have a history of colon or stomach cancer in your family because that can make you predisposed to GI issues. All women should have a colonoscopy done when they reach 50, as some GI issues can be caused by a greater internal issue.
Digestive health plays a huge role in our well-being. So, if you're experiencing problems like bloating, constipation, or lack of energy, you might want to try strategies that boost your gut health. These include drinking more water, cleaning up your diet, and limiting trigger foods.
Many women have found relief using Reneu from FirstFitness Nutrition. It works to cleanse and detoxify your inner body and colon to enhance nutrient absorption. Check out the reviews and see what you think.
Jay Todtenbier is an original founder of SupplementRelief.com in 2010 and has operated the business ever since. He is also a tennis instructor and gospel musician. Formerly he spent 25 years in business development, technology and marketing with startups and major corporations having gone through the tech boom in Silicon Valley in the 90s. He became passionate about, and began studying and practicing Wellness as a Lifestyle after experiencing chronic, personal health challenges including depression, auto-immune disorders, and being overweight that impacted his ability to live a healthy, vibrant life. Since then, he has been an advocate for healthier living encouraging others to live better through making small, gradual changes to lifestyle behaviors relating to whole-foods nutrition, stress management, reasonable exercise, proper sleep, and the use of targeted, high-quality supplements.
Learn more about Jay Todtenbier.
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