Diabetes and Constipation
How It Happens,
And Some Answers

By Paul Schneider

When diabetes and constipation
combine, it can raise blood sugar

Studies say constipation can raise blood sugar by as much as 10%.

When food is not moving properly through the digestive tract, it affects absorption. Therefore, a diabetic may be able to lower their blood sugar by dealing with constipation.

Diabetes can cause constipation

In this article I list 6 ways that diabetes may cause constipation, and the best ways to overcome each of these.

  1. High blood sugar can cause decreased hydration
  2. A low carb diet can lead to constipation
  3. Diabetic medications can cause constipation
  4. Aging can bring cumulative constipation effects
  5. Delayed emptying can cause bacterial overgrowth
  6. Diabetic neuropathy. Nerve damage can hinder elimination

The Six Ways Diabetes Can Lead to Constipation,

With Answers for Each

1. Decreased hydration because of high blood sugar

When blood sugar is elevated, the body needs water to flush this excess sugar from the blood. If this fluid is not replaced, it can cause those with uncontrolled diabetes to live in a constant state of dehydration.

You see, when the body is dehydrated, it becomes desperate, and tries to pull the water it needs from the colon. This causes stool to dry out and become hard, making it painful to eliminate.

The Answer

  1. First, work hard to control blood sugar levels.

  2. Limit caffeine, since excessive caffeine works like a diuretic to flush water from the system.

  3. Drink a lot of water. Nothing hydrates like water.

Replacing lost water and staying hydrated is an important first step in avoiding the effect of diabetes and constipation.

Just picture the difference between a grape and a raisin, then make it a point to stay hydrated.

2. Altering one’s diet to improve blood sugar

No doubt you know how important it is for someone with diabetes to control their dietFor instance, diabetics should limit carbs, but some carbs are a good source of fiber.

In an effort to eliminate carbs, it is all too easy to eliminate foods that relieve constipation and eat more foods that cause constipation.

  • Whole grains like wheat, rye and rice are rich in insoluble fiber, which helps to bulk up the stool, retain water, and give an urge to go. 
    However, these grains contain a lot of carbs that a diabetic is trying to avoid.

  • Fruit contains insoluble fiber, also highly valuable to normal bowel movements, but it is generally high in fructose, which spikes blood sugar.

  • Cheese and other milk products, meat and eggs - they are all low in fiber, but are often eaten in greater quantities by diabetics.

The Answer

A.  Look for natural ways to avoid high blood sugar.

B.  For the carbs you do eat, make sure to eat carbs rich in fiber AND nutrients.  Eat:

  • Wheat bread instead of white bread

  • Sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes

  • Brown rice instead of white rice

Avoid processed foods, because manufacturers generally process out most of the fiber.

C.  Try to incorporate foods into your diet that have a low glycemic index, yet are high in fiber.
Here is a short list of such foods.

  •  Eat more vegetables, including some raw vegetables. These tend to be high in soluble fiber.

  • Eat a few nuts each day, like pecans, almonds, Brazil nuts and walnuts. 
    They are high in fiber, plus are great sources of nutrition. Raw nuts work better than roasted.

  • Raspberries, blueberries and cherries are low on the glycemic index, yet are high in fiber and nutrients.

  • Add a good probiotic to your diet, like Kombucha, milk or water kefir, or one you can purchase in capsule form.

D.  These purchased products may prove helpful

  • Get more fiber into your diet by purchasing fiber product like Metamucil or a bran like Psyllium.
    These are high in fiber that can help to hold moisture in the stool.
    Of course, work hard to stay hydrated, so that the colon won’t pull this moisture out.

  • Get some low carb, high fiber snack or energy bars.

  • Use a magnesium supplement to pull more moisture into the colon.
    Ionic Sea Minerals is a sea mineral supplement high in magnesium which is intended for daily use.
    An RN shares how it can bring long-term relief from constipation.

  • Add a high fiber powder product like inulin into your food to increase fiber content.

The New England Journal of Medicine conducted a study to examine 
the effects of a high fiber diet on blood sugar levels.

The results? While on a high fiber diet, participants’ blood sugar levels were 10% lower
Fiber will generally help diabetes and constipation.

3. Medications can cause constipation

Sometimes diabetes and constipation happen because of the drugs a diabetic is taking to handle diabetes symptoms and other problems.

  • Pain medications often produce constipation.

  • Antibiotics, which kill off friendly bacteria in the gut, can result in constipation.
    Bacteria help to break down nutrients in the stool. The bacteria feed, multiply and die.
    Normally, 50% of a stool is bacteria.

    These bacteria do even better than fiber at retaining moisture, which helps to keep the 
    stool from drying out.
    By killing off friendly bacteria, antibiotics produce constipation.

  • Even though certain drugs by themselves may not produce constipation, the interaction of those drugs might result in diabetes and constipation side effects.

    Take for instance the combination of diabetic medications, a cholesterol medication and a sleep medication. 
    Each by themselves might not cause constipation, but together they might.

The Answer

Medications and constipation can be a difficult problem to address, but there are potential answers.

  • Always take some kind of probiotics after a course of antibiotics to help to repopulate the gut with beneficial bacteria.

  • Try some of the remedies discussed in point 2 above. These may be able to relieve the constipation effects of the drugs.

  • Your doctor might be able to change the roster of medications you are receiving so that you still receive the benefits without incurring constipation.

4. Aging and being a diabetic

They say that diabetes is a progressive disease. The reason for this is that diabetes isn't a blood sugar disease at all, but an insulin disease.

A. Type 1 diabetes

With Type 1 diabetes, the body doesn't produce insulin. Therefore the patient has to take daily insulin. The problem is that it is hard to get the exact right amount of insulin.

Over time, spikes in blood sugar and insulin will have a negative effect on the body, which can result in constipation.

B. Type 2 diabetes

This is an insulin resistant disease. When one indulges in sweets, it causes insulin to spike to lower the spike in blood sugar.

Insulin itself is damaging to tissue. To protect itself from insulin spikes, the body becomes less sensitive to insulin. Usually by the time a person has diabetic symptoms, they are already quite resistant to insulin.

C. Why type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease

Instead of dealing with the problem (insulin resistance), we tend to deal with the symptom (high blood sugar). As insulin resistance increases, it takes more and more insulin to control blood sugar.

Over time, the high levels of insulin and blood sugar take their toll with progressively more damage to the body. Nerves are injured (see point 6 below), making it harder for the body to move stool along in the colon. This then results in the dreaded diabetes and constipation combo.

The Answer

Go after the disease (insulin resistance) instead of the symptom (high blood sugar). There are ways to lower insulin resistance.

These include:

  • Eliminating most carbs from the diet

  • Exercise, which renews our muscle’s ability to utilize insulin

As I mentioned above, magnesium might work to help with diabetes and constipation even when other methods fail. sea mineral supplement rich in magnesium may be taken every day, and prove to be a long-term solution to many diabetes and constipation problems.

Since most Americans don’t get enough magnesium, supplementing with it can have numerous health benefitsBesides this, sea minerals contain numerous valuable trace minerals missing from most of our diets.

5. Bacterial overgrowth

Unfortunately, as transient time in the colon increases, yeasts and fungi tend to take over the colon, reducing the amount of beneficial bacteria.

This can result in bloating, gas, abdominal pain and even diarrheaOne day you are constipated, the next day you have diarrhea.  No fun.

The Answer

Though some might suggest that a course of antibiotics is what is needed to bring yeast, fungi and harmful bacteria under control, I personally wouldn't go that route. Not only does it kill the overreaching microbes, it also wipes out beneficial bacteria.

Instead, why not eat foods that encourage beneficial bacteria, like:

  • Vegetables

  • Meat and eggs

  • Nuts

  • Healthy fats, like avocado, butter, olive oil and coconut oil

Along with this, avoid those foods that feed the yeast and fungi, including sweets, carbs and hydrogenated oils. Foods included in this group are:

  • Processed foods from the grocery store

  • Food from fast food restaurants

  • White potatoes, white rice and white breads

Add to this a daily portion of fermented foods, like sauerkraut and other cultured vegetables, kombucha and non-sweetened kefir and yogurt, or other types of probiotics, and you will find that your colon will come back into a good balance of beneficial bacteria, fungi and yeast.

Good bye bacteria overgrowthAnd hopefully, good bye to the diabetes and constipation combo.

6. Diabetic neuropathy – nerve damage to the colon

This is a common complication of both type one AND type two diabetes, where blood sugar levels are not controlled.

According to the American Diabetes Association, between 60 and 70 percent of diabetics have some form of neuropathy.

A. How a diabetic gets neuropathy 

Over time, high blood sugar levels weaken the walls of the blood vessels that carry nutrients and oxygen to the nerves. This cuts down on the ability of these blood vessels to transport oxygen and essential nutrients.

When the vagus nerves, which control the length of time that waste stays in the body, are deprived of nutrients and oxygen, they become damaged.

If high blood sugar is not controlled, the damage gradually increases. The digestive system begins to lose some efficiency at moving food waste along. Waste then can back up, dry out and harden, resulting in an ongoing battle with constipation.

B. How to tell if you are constipated

It is accepted that a person is constipated if 25% of the time they have hard stools and strain to pass stools, and have less than 3 bowel movements a week.

Laxatives are a poor answer to the problem of diabetes and constipation, since over time laxatives can damage the colon and its ability to contract and move waste along.

The Answer

Sadly, damage to nerves is irreversible. It is therefore best to prevent it before it happens.

By controlling one’s blood sugar, a person can slow or completely stop more nerve damage from happening.

A. Some ideas for preventing nerve damage

  • Quit smoking

  • Exercise regularly, since added muscle mass can help decrease insulin resistance, thereby lowering blood sugar levels
  • B. Ways to lessen neuropathy constipation 

    • Eat a healthier diet, with less carbs and sugars, less processed foods, and more vegetables

    • Drink a lot of water

    • Eat smaller amounts of food at a time

    • Avoid foods that are hard to digest, like meat and pasteurized dairy

    C. Tried and true diabetes and constipation remedies 

    • Try increasing fiber, like Isabgol, also called psyllium seed husks

    • Take a teaspoon or two of Ionic Sea Minerals each day. 
      Its magnesium will help draw water into the colon, to keep stool from drying out and hardening. Take the minerals with plenty of water.

    • Slowly eat a few unsalted Brazil nuts following the evening meal or before bed. 
      Brazil nuts have a nice amount of selenium, and may help to prompt a bowel movement.

    D. Unusual diabetes and constipation remedies 

  • Drink warm to hot water and other liquids, and avoid eating cold food

  • Take ¼ to ½ cup of ground flax seed with 2 cups of water to get things moving

  • For more severe cases, add ¼ cup of whole flax seed to water, let it soak for 30 seconds, and drink it down. This really seems to work well.
  • E. Ask your doctor

    • Ask your doctor about medication to help compensate for the condition

    • If the condition is severe, your doctor may advise you to actually limit the amount of fiber you eat

    Conclusion, diabetes and constipation

    Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share with you about diabetes and constipation.

    It is my hope and prayer that the above information proves helpful, and that very soon the diabetes and constipation combination will disappear, and you will be having regular, soft bowel movements.

    (Return from Diabetes and Constipation to Causes of Constipation)

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