A.Vogel Talks Menopause: Is menopause causing your digestive problems?


Eileen Durward
@EileenDurward


16 May 2016

Read the full video transcript below

Today's topic

Hello, and welcome to my weekly video blog. And today on A.Vogel Talks Menopause, I answer one of our viewer’s questions. It is quite a complex situation, so there’s just the one. This is from Sally who’s 49, and she’s saying, “I have recently started to get bad indigestion and acid reflux. I’ve not changed my diet so I don’t understand why this is happening. Could it be due to the menopause?”

The answer is yes, it can. It can certainly be a big contributory factor. And what we have discovered is that indigestion and gastric reflux is actually one of the really common symptoms of the menopause. An awful lot of women are actually getting this.

Oestrogen

Now, the main culprit is your falling oestrogen. That can actually affect your digestion. It can slow your digestion down. Low oestrogen can sometimes also affect the production of acid in your stomach causing low acid which can cause indigestion and gastric reflux as well.

Stress and digestion

The other main issue with this is stress. And as I’ve said before, we’re all busy people. Most of us will get stress during the menopause, and our nervous system is actually pulled into the whole menopause picture whether it actually likes it or not. What happens is our nervous system becomes much more sensitive to all sorts of situations that go on during the day. It becomes much more reactive to things that it would never have bothered with beforehand. So our nervous system can actually start triggering…We can just have been a little bit late for work, we could have missed the bus, we could not find our car keys. These little things which maybe a few years ago wouldn’t have bothered us, now actually start to trigger a nervous system response.

And we’ve all heard of flight or fight, haven’t we? What happens in these instances when this reaction is triggered, one of the things that it does is it actually switches your digestive system off. And if you are getting these episodes on a daily basis, which most of us do during the menopause, then our digestive system can be switched on and off, and on and off, and on and off a good number of times on a daily basis. And this is really going to interfere with our digestion at all stages. So it’s going to cause things like indigestion, gastric reflux. It’s going to cause bloating. It’s also going to cause constipation as well.

Simple eating tips for improving your digestion

So what we need to do is look at ways that we can actually address this. So the main tips for this are…they’re really simple is sit down properly when you’re eating a meal. I have spoken about this before. If we sit down at our desk, if we’re sitting down in front of the TV, then we actually constrict the stomach. It doesn’t work particularly well, and everything will just start to ferment for a long time there as well.

It’s important to eat really slowly and to chew your food really well. And our digestion expert, Alison, actually recommends that you chew each mouthful 20 times. Now, “Why 20 times?” You may well ask. You will actually find if you do that that your food will be broken down really nicely and the stomach will be able to cope with this an awful lot easier.

Also, sit for at least 10 minutes after you have finished eating. Because what do we do? We eat our food, the next minute we’re jumping up. We’re running around. We’re thinking about what we’re going to do next. That will trigger your nervous system. So for an awful lot of people jumping up straight away is actually going to stop stomach digestion practically before you’ve even finished eating. So it’s very, very important to have this little bit of relaxation time as well.

The other very important thing is please don’t drink lots with your meals. We’re all in the habit of having a cup of tea or a big glass of juice or a glass of wine with our evening meal. And too much liquid will actually dilute your digestive juices and that can start to cause fermentation in the stomach as well. And all this fermentation just builds up pressure and gives you the gastric reflux and all that indigestion as well.

Digestion remedies

You can also look at remedies for digestion. There’s a lovely digestive remedy called Centaurium, and it’s a bitter. And bitters, which you take maybe 10 – 15 minutes before you sit down to eat, actually helps to get the whole digestive system ready for your meal. And this can be a real boon when you’re suffering from indigestion and gastric reflux as well.

If you feel you’re really stressed if you think that your nervous system is really overreacting to everything at the moment, you can look at stress remedies such as Passiflora, such as AvenaCalm or your Stress Relief Daytime as well.

Medication and your digestion

Now, there’s just one other thing that I would like to talk about here. As I mentioned before, indigestion seems to be a very, very common menopausal symptom at the minute. What’s happening is that an awful lot of women are getting these problems. They’re not associating them with menopause. They’re going to the doctor and the doctor is actually giving them stomach medication. Now, some of these stomach medications are called proton pump inhibitors. They’re medication such as omeprazole. What they actually do is they actually suppress the production of stomach acid which is great at the time because it stops the acid reflux and all these very distressing symptoms.

But one of the other things that they do is that they are known to inhibit the breakdown and absorption of both calcium and magnesium. Those of you who’ve been watching for a while, you will know just how important these minerals are during the menopause. Remember, low magnesium can give you mood swings. It can give you anxiety, panic attacks, palpitations, muscle aches and pains, nerve pain, joint aches. And magnesium is vital to take calcium to your bones. So if you’re low in both magnesium and calcium, that can actually have an impact on your bone health as well.

Check the patient information leaflet!

So all I would say here is that if you are on this particular type of medication, check the patient information leaflet just to see if any of the symptoms that you’re getting in the menopause may actually be associated with the medication rather than the actual menopause itself. This is true with all medication. So all of you out there who’re on prescribed medication…And most of us if we get something from the doctor, we don’t bother to read the leaflet in the box. It just goes straight into the bin. So it’s really important that if you’re on any medication, you read the leaflet just to see if any of the symptoms you are getting might be associated with the medication.

And it’s amazing how many women are actually contacting us now. And when we find out what the medication they’re on, and we actually check the list, we find that sometimes what they’re experiencing isn’t really menopausal at all. If that’s the case, please do go back to your doctor and have a chat to them about it as well.

Until next week...

Now, hopefully, this will have given you a little bit of help with any indigestion. If you do get this particular symptom, try some of these regular tips and see how you get on during the week. So, I look forward to seeing you next week on A.Vogel Talks Menopause.

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  • anne's photo avatar
    anne — 08.08.2017 06:26
    why am I so bloated now that I'm menopausal?

    Reply

    • eileen's photo avatar
      eileen — 08.08.2017 14:31
      Hi Anne Bloating is very common in the menopause and can be caused by several factors. Falling levels of oestrogen can affect the digestive process, slowing everything down resulting in bloating and/or wind. Falling oestrogen levels can also have an effect on carbohydrate metabolism, making it more difficult to digest starches and sugars, and this can often lead to bloating too. Also, we tend to be less active at this point, often due to fatigue, but even a brisk walk every day can help with digestion. The movements of walking help to 'massage' the digestive tract and remember to do lots of deep breathing as the rhythm of the diaphragm also massages and tones the whole pelvic area. Try to avoid white bread, pasta, cakes, biscuits and also white rice if you don't already. If your bowel isn't moving at least once per day (preferably twice) then this can contribute to bloating too. I would suggest Molkosan as this is traditionally used for bloating. However, any bloating that has gone on for more than a couple of weeks, especially if it is constant or painful, must be checked out by your doctor as well.

      Reply

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