Today on A.Vogel Talks Menopause, I'm going to be talking about, "Can acid reflux be a menopause symptom?"
We know that digestive problems, in general, can certainly be triggered by menopause. It can be exacerbated by menopause. But one of the things I found recently is that a lot of women are asking me, "Can acid reflux be a proper symptom of the menopause?"
What can cause acid reflux during menopause?
Studies have shown that menopausal women are three times as likely to suffer from Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).1
Falling oestrogen in menopause can affect the production of acid in the stomach, and when this happens you can start to get a lot of indigestion, wind, and feeling of fullness, as well as a lot of the discomfort and pain.
Stress can also affect stomach digestion, too. The problem with this is that it's not being picked up as a specific menopause symptom. And a lot of women are going to the doctor, and they are being prescribed antacids or what's called PPIs.
The problem with antacid medications
One of the issues with these drugs is that if you take them long term, there is the possibility that they can interfere with the absorption of minerals such as magnesium and calcium. And these are both vital in the menopause.
If you're low in calcium, that can affect your bones leading to osteoporosis. If you're low in magnesium, that can give you symptoms such as anxiety, palpitations, and poor sleep.
So, as you can see, getting something like GERD, or even indigestion, or acid reflux can have a lot of ongoing issues with menopausal problems, too. Also, what can happen is because oestrogen is affecting the production of acid in the stomach, it could end up producing too much acid.
But it can also end up not producing enough acid. And both of these situations will end up causing the same symptoms. So, again, if you take antacids, you may then be making your symptoms even worse.
What can help ease acid reflux during menopause
What can you do to help yourself here? The easiest thing is to have a look at how you are eating because this can have a big effect on how your digestion goes in the stomach.
Sit up straight when eating
If you are sitting at a desk or watching TV and you're eating slumped, this is going to squash your stomach. And your stomach is not going to be able to break your food down properly, and that in itself can give you feelings of fullness and indigestion.
We're very busy, so we tend to eat very quickly. We may end up eating on the run. We don't chew our food properly. And if you don't chew your food properly, then big lumps of food are going to be sitting in the stomach. And your stomach is going to have to produce extra acid to try and break all these down.
So, the really simple tools for improving your stomach digestion are to make sure that you are sitting down and sitting up properly. Remember what, you were often told that when you were children, elbows by your side. Eating this way allows the stomach to move properly.
Eat slowly and chew well
Take your time when eating. They do say that you should chew each mouthful 20 times to get the right consistency for the stomach to do its job properly.
Do a little bit of homework. For the next few days when you're eating, try and chew each mouthful 20 times. It's very hard because we're used to just chomping and swallowing.
The other great thing about chewing slowly is that you tend to feel fuller quicker, and if you're trying to watch your calorie intake, this can be a nice easy way of doing it.
Don’t drink a lot whilst eating
People often have a cup of tea, or coffee, or a big glass of juice while you're eating. If you do that and you're not producing enough stomach acid, you are going to dilute it even further. So, if you have to drink whilst you eat, have just a small amount of plain water in a glass.
I've been trying to follow these rules for years, and I find now that I just cannot drink a lot whilst I'm eating. It makes me feel so uncomfortable. So, your digestion does get used to being treated in this particular way.
Helpful digestion remedies
There are lots of lovely herbal remedies to help with digestion, and the ones we tend to look at are called bitters.
And bitters help to improve the production of things like stomach acid. And they are balancing, so if you produce too much acid, they will help to calm it down, and if you don't produce enough acid, they will help your stomach to produce more.
So, these are nice ones to use if you're not quite sure which way your stomach is acting. The herbs that we tend to recommend are Centaurium and Digestisan.
A stress remedy
If stress is an issue, then we have a lovely-licensed remedy called AvenaCalm. And the lovely thing about the herb Avena sativa is that this can help to calm the digestive system generally.
If you find you're getting a nervous tummy, then the herb can be a nice calmer as well as helping to aid your stress and anxiety levels.
Also, watch what you eat. Certain foods can put extra stress on our digestion. So high carbohydrate foods like wheat and white rice can be really hard to digest.
For some people, it can be dairy products, and obviously, you're looking at things like caffeine and alcohol especially if you're drinking those whilst you're eating. They can all impact on your digestion, too.
So, I hope this has given you a little bit of insight and thought into how you eat. Try the little bit of homework I mentioned above. And, you know, if you find it helps, let me know.
Sometimes, just something as simple as chewing your food slowly can make a huge difference to your whole digestion. If you have any tips, if any of you have found anything that works well for you, then please share it with us in the comment section below.