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Reducing bloat in menopause is an issue that is we often talk about in hushed tones among the women in my circle of friends. I hope this article may help a few of them.
You’ve just purchased the MOST GORGEOUS pair of jeans, a beautiful new shirt and belt to wear out for the monthly lunch with the girls.
You wake up on the day to that all too familiar sensation of gurgling and pain in the stomach.
With a sigh, you revert to your uniform of stretchy leggings, long top and boots.
Sound familiar? Unfortunately, this scenario is all too common for a large number of women.
Most women will experience bloating. If you are lucky it isn’t frequent or severe but for some, it has a very negative impact on their lives.
Is it bloating or weight gain?
While both of these issues are menopause symptoms bloating and weight gain are two very different things. Bloating is a temporary increase in the size of the stomach, caused by gas or fluid retention. Weight gain is an increase in body mass, due to the accumulation of fat tissue.
There are a few key ways to tell the difference between bloating and weight gain:
- Gaining weight is usually gradual while bloating can come on suddenly.
- Menopause weight gain is usually permanent while bloating is usually temporary.
- Weight gain generally affects the whole body, while bloating usually just affects the stomach.
- You can usually feel that you’ve gained put on weight, but bloating may not be noticeable until you see yourself in a mirror.
Does progesterone cause bloating during menopause?
Progesterone is a hormone that helps to regulate the menstrual cycle. It is secreted by the ovaries and levels fluctuate throughout the month. Progesterone levels are highest during the second half of the cycle, after ovulation has occurred.
The role of progesterone in bloating during menopause is not well understood. However, it is thought that declining levels of progesterone may play a role in the development of symptoms. Progesterone levels decline during menopause and this may lead to an imbalance with other hormones, such as estrogen. This hormonal imbalance is thought to be one of the main causes of menopausal symptoms, including bloating.
What else causes menopause bloating?
The digestive system
When food doesn’t pass through the intestines easily, particles can become trapped and consequently cause bacteria which gives off gas and causes bloating in the digestive tract.
Not very pleasant I know.
Hormonal changes – Lowering estrogen levels can be the cause of many unpleasent symptoms in menopause as well as possible increased food sensitivities which can cause inflammation and menopausal bloating in the digestive tract. Other symptoms can be weight gain, hot flashes, more frequent migrains and more.
Irritable bowel syndrome
IBS is a condition of the large intenstine and can occur at any time. Many can manage it with diet and lifestyle changes and reducing stress. A small portion of people diagnosed with IBS need to manage it with medication and monitoring.
To rule out IBS it is best to speak to a medical professional.
Hormonal changes can also cause your body to hold onto water which can cause bloating in the abdominal area. If you suspect water retention to be a problem eat a healthy, low salt diet that is postassium and magnesium rich.
Many health issues can be attributed to stress and experiencing bloating is one of them. When you body is stressed it can affect your digestive system negatively. Long term the stress hormone cortisol can erode the lining of the large intestine.
My Top Healthy Food Swaps
Keep your waistline and your family happy with these hacks
Add one of these food swaps into your life each week to see and feel the positive difference in your health
Change in diet
Women in menopause often start making changes towards a healthier diet. More fiber in fruit and vegetables can cause gas. Artificial sweeteners can also cause digestive upset as our bodies struggle to digest them.
Let’s look at ways we can improve your digestive health and how to stop bloating during menopause and get you into those gorgeous jeans girl!
First up try out this freebie. The healthier versions of many foods are very helpfull for gut health and digestion.
How to reduce bloating symptoms
As a bonus as well as menopause bloating relief these remedies will also help to reduce other menopause symptoms.
1. Drink more water.
This is so important for many aspects of our health.
Water helps flush that food by making sure that no particles are left behind. It keeps the digestive system running smoothly your bowels working as they should.
Have a glass now. Go on I’ll wait until you come back.
2. Eat more natural fiber.
The morning is the best time to get a head start on those pesky intestines.
One of the best natural fibers is psyllium husk, the main ingredient in Metamucil. Keep some in the cupboard and sprinkle it on your cereal or smoothie.
While you’re at it throw some raspberries on that muesli and add an extra kick or smash some avocado on that high fiber muffin.
Remember to increase your fiber intake slowly and drink plenty of water while doing so. If you find your more bloated when you add fiber cut back however it should settle down fairly quickly.
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3. Limit foods containing indigestible sugars
We know these foods as FODMAP’s or fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. These foods can trigger bloating during menopause.
They include but are not limited to:
Sugar alcohols are also included in this list because large amounts of these sugar alternatives have been known to cause digestive issues. Avoid sugar-free chewing gum and xylitol, sorbitol and mannitol.
I can see that some of these foods might raise an eyebrow or two but we’re not talking about cutting them out altogether. Just assess if any of these foods are trigger foods for you and remove from your diet accordingly.
4. Avoid Carbonated Drinks
Many fizzy drinks are loaded with sugar so contribute to weight gain they also contain carbon dioxide which can cause bloating in the stomach.
5. Eat Probiotic Foods Or Take A Supplement
Probiotics are good bacteria which will help kill off the bad bacteria in your gut. Fermented foods are high in probiotics. See my post How To Improve Your Gut Health for a more in-depth list of fermented and other foods which benefit your gut.
Exercise will keep everything moving through your system. Walking is especially beneficial. Yoga also can help to shift gas and bloat. Exercise in any form is a great way to decrease stress.
There is one more possible remedy and that is hormone replacement therapy.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a treatment that can be used to relieve menopausal symptoms, including menopuase bloating. HRT involves taking hormones, either in the form of tablets, patches or gels, to replace the hormones that the body is no longer producing.
I know first hand what it is like to suffer from bloating and the pain that trapped gas can cause. For me, it has been a combination of ALL of these tips which have provided the best solution.
There are still days the stretchy pants come out but they are far rarer.
Do you have some sure-fire tips that work for helping with easing bloat? Add them in the comments.