Today on A.Vogel Talks Menopause, I'm going to be talking about that menopausal bloat.
Menopausal bloating is so common. One of the major questions that we get asked on a regular basis is "what causes bloating?". I have talked about it before but I think this is always a nice one to recap because we tend to forget some of the simple things that can very often be of benefit.
Why can menopause make you bloated?
So, why does bloating tend to occur or get worse in the menopause? Most of it is due to the hormonal changes. And it's what those hormonal changes do to the body that can then result in the bloating.
One of the first things that happens is falling oestrogen affects the motility of your digestive tract so it slows everything down. And that slowing down means that all the broken food and the residue that's left from what your body's absorbed tends to sit longer in the digestive tract. And, very often, this just starts to ferment, and it's that fermentation process that causes the bloating.
I'm sure quite a lot of you will find that you get up in the morning, you very well go and move your bowels, you feel great, and then, by tea time, it just feels like you've gone up about three sizes round the middle. So, this is the digestive bloating.
The other thing that can happen here is we know that falling oestrogen can affect the friendly bacteria in your digestive tract so, if they decrease, that's also going to have a huge impact on your digestion and elimination.
And, very often, in cases like this, the baddies tend to get in. They tend to take over, and they will cause your food to possibly ferment as well. So, sometimes, it can be a combination of several different things all contributing together.
Stress is a huge issue for your digestion, and it can be a very quick one. You only need to be stressed for a second. You know, if you think about it, you're going to the dentist, you're immediately worried about it, and you can feel your whole digestive tract cramping up.
So, stress has an impact on our digestion by switching it off. The minute you feel stressed, if your body is in the middle of digesting your last meal, everything will just stop and that stopping and starting means that, again, transit time is going to be a lot longer and that bloating is going to be a constant reminder of this.
We've also got things like dehydration. You know, water is so important. Your digestion is like a processing plant. If you don't have enough water to keep everything moving, it's going to have a huge effect as well.
Bad eating habits
We're busy going through the menopause. We're trying to juggle things. We may well be fatigued. We may have extra things to do, so we end up rushing our food. We don't chew properly and that can be another big issue in this whole situation.
Pre-existing digestive problems
The other thing that can happen here is that maybe you already have digestive problems as you approach the menopause, maybe IBS, or things like diverticulitis, or ulcerative colitis.
Because all the changes going on can affect your digestion, these pre-existing problems can get much worse.
How to treat and prevent bloating during menopause
So, how are we going to fix this?
Keep a food diary
One of the really great things that I find works well here is to do a food diary, especially if you find you get bloating at the same time every day or maybe you only get it two or three times a week.
So, you're looking at writing down everything that you're eating and drinking. Be totally honest. And, if you get a particularly bad attack of bloating, then look back within the last 24 hours. And, very often, you will see a pattern emerging.
It may well be when you have a pasta dish, so, you know, not everybody should have pasta every day. It may well be when you have something like extra starchy vegetables. I know, for me, baked potatoes are a big thing. They really do cause me bloating, so it's something I tend to avoid. Once you can figure out what may be causing the bloating, then you know that you'll have much more control over your symptoms and that can make a difference quite quickly.
The other thing you can do is look at what is called a low-FODMAP diet. This is eliminating certain foods that are known to cause bloating in a lot of people. There should be a link here. We've got lots of information on the website on low-FODMAP diets, so please do have a look if you're interested in that one.
Sort the constipation. If you're getting constipated regularly, that's going to cause bloating, too. We have a licensed product called Linoforce which is traditionally used for constipation, so that's something you could look at. And, very often, once you get the constipation moving, and you try some of the other tips as well, that can be of really good benefit.
Drink plenty of water
Look at your water. Make sure that you're drinking enough water on a daily basis. But, and this is the real trick here, don't have a lot of water whilst you're eating - that's going to dilute the digestive juices in your stomach and this is going to have a big impact on how efficient your digestion is. So, drink lots of water during the day, but not whilst you're having your meal.
Practice good eating habits
Look at your good habits, or cultivate good habits when you're eating. Don't eat on the run! When you're on the run, the body thinks you're in a bit of stress - your digestive tract will switch off, so the food will sit in your stomach longer, causing indigestion and a lot of bloating.
Chew really slowly. Your stomach does not have any teeth, so any food that's not broken down in the mouth is going to sit in the stomach and that's going to bloat the stomach area and cause fermentation, too.
Sit up whilst you're eating. This is really important. I am so bad at this because I very often have lunch at my desk. And, when you sit hunched over, the stomach can't move properly - again, if digestion is poor in the stomach, that can contribute to bloating lower down the digestive tract.
Exercise is very important. If you exercise regularly, the movements you're making help to massage the whole of the digestive tract and that will improve transit time.
So, exercises would be things like yoga, walking, even a 10-minute brisk walk a day could improve your digestion. Things like swimming can be of great benefit as well.
Remedies to help ease bloating
Look at balancing your oestrogen - you could try our Menopause Support if it's appropriate for you because, if it's helping to gently raise and balance oestrogen, that can have a direct positive effect on your digestion itself.
We also have a lovely remedy called Yarrow Complex, and this is traditionally used for bloating, wind and cramping in the abdominal area. And you would take that just before you sit down to each meal.
You can try Molkosan or Molkosan Fruit. This is a fermented product. So, this is going to help to encourage the proliferation of your friendly bacteria in your digestive tract, and that will be of direct benefit, especially for your elimination.
A daily probiotic
If you've had antibiotics, even a year or two ago, then you may need a daily probiotic, so that is a good idea. And I usually recommend a one-month course of probiotics every six months, just to keep your digestion in tip-top form.
You could try:
OptiBac Probiotics for Women
Optibac Probiotics for Women contain two highly researched strains of bacteria that have been proven to make it through the gut and to your intimate area alive. Once there, they can help reduce unfriendly bacteria and yeast, creating a happier intimate area, and a happier you!
These vegetable capsules are suitable for vegetarians and vegans. For best results take daily with food, preferably breakfast.
When to consult your doctor
The main thing here - and one thing that is really important to note - is that, if bloating has been going on for more than two or three weeks, if you are constantly bloated (which means you're not getting the nice, flat tummy in the morning with bloating in the evening), then it is vital to go and get things checked out by your doctor.
There are other issues that can cause bloating such as fibroids or a prolapse, so it's really important to get these things investigated. If your bloating is causing constant cramping, constant pain, and if it's getting to the point where you're having to take painkillers, then please see the doctor first before doing anything else.
So, I hope this one was of interest to you. If you've been experiencing bloating, and you try the tips and they help, please let us know. And, if anyone else has any really good tips on bloating, we would love to hear about them.