UNDERSTANDING BLOATING IN PERIMENOPAUSE AND HOW TO MANAGE IT

bloating hormonal health perimenopause women's health May 06, 2024

Do you often feel like you're carrying a balloon in your belly after meals? Bloating is a common complaint among women, especially those over 40, but it isn’t as commonly talked about as a side effect or symptom of perimenopause. You might be actively avoiding some foods because you’ve associated them with bloating in the past, but still find yourself getting bloated more and more frequently.

WHAT CAUSES BLOATING IN PERIMENOPAUSE? THE HORMONAL CONNECTION:

As you move into perimenopause, your body - including your digestive system - has to respond to the significant hormonal fluctuations of oestrogen and progesterone. Decreased levels of oestrogen can reduce the production of digestive enzymes and stomach acid, leading to slower digestion, food sitting in the intestines, fermenting, creating more gas and consequently, bloating. As oestrogen declines in later perimenopause and into menopause, your microbiome can be negatively impacted. We’ll talk more about this below.

STRESS: A MAJOR CONTRIBUTOR TO BLOATING:

Stress doesn't just affect your mood; it impacts all your body systems and organs, including your ‘gut’ health. When stressed, your body shifts into the 'fight or flight' mode, diverting its focus away from the digestive system. This reduction can slow down digestion, reducing digestive secretions, and leading to increased fermentation of food, gas and bloating.

Managing your stressors is even more important than ever before during perimenopause, as your in-built stress resilience hormone (progesterone) declines. Helping your body increase it’s stress resilience as progesterone fades is so beneficial, as it helps your brain and body be les reactive to the stressors in your day-to-day life. And the pay off for you is that you’ll feel better, have less bloating, and be less snippy and irritated by your family, friends and work colleagues!

Incorporating stress-reduction techniques such as yoga, meditation, or simple breathing exercises can significantly improve how your body manages stress and help reduce bloating, especially if used just before you eat.

DIET TWEAKS TO REDUCE BLOATING - FOODS TO FAVOR AND FOODS TO AVOID:

Certain foods can exacerbate bloating, especially during perimenopause. High-fibre foods, while generally healthy, can cause bloating if your microbiome is out of balance. The way to resolve this isn’t to keep avoiding those fibres, but to actually over time bring them back into the diet. To do this comfortably though, you may need the help of a practitioner to help resolve the underlying cause of the microbiome imbalance.

On the other hand, increasing your intake of water and probiotic-rich foods like yogurt and kefir can enhance your digestive health and reduce bloating incidents. Experiment with your diet to see what works best for your body, and consider keeping a food diary to track which foods trigger your bloating. Please don’t go gung-ho on the probiotic foods or you may find yourself feeling like Violet Beauregarde when she blows up into the giant blueberry! Start very small, like a teaspoon or so, and gradually build up your serving size over time.

THE ROLE OF THE MICROBIOME IN BLOATING

A healthy gut microbiome is crucial in preventing and managing bloating (And many other aspects of your health, including weight management, mood, and energy). An imbalance in your microbiome bacteria - or the goodies versus the baddies - is called dysbiosis, which is often associated with bloating and other digestive issues. Enhancing your microbiome's health through diet changes, probiotics, and prebiotics can help maintain an optimal balance of beneficial bacteria, reducing bloating and improving overall gut health.

A simple way to do this is to try and aim for over 40 minimally processed, unique plant foods each week. It can just be different colored versions of the same type of veg. For example it could be like a red apple one day and a green apple another, maybe you might have an orange carrot then a yellow carrot another time. They don’t have to be completely unique types of vegetables or plant foods. Using herbs, spices, nuts, seeds, rice, these all count in your 40.

Other microbiome-boosting foods and drinks are green tea, matcha, almonds with the skin on, cocoa, colourful berries and vegetables, brown rice, olives. These will feed your microbiome and help with your microbe balance to help reduce the bloating.

While bloating can be a persistent issue during perimenopause, understanding its root causes and implementing strategies to address those causes can help you stop the bloating. Listen to the full podcast episode to learn more about why you’re getting bloated, and what to do about it. And if you’d like some help to work out why you’re bloated all the time and what to do about it, I’m always here to help. Book your free Clarity Call and let’s get to work on banning the bloat for you.

 
 

Is it perimenopause hormone changes or something else making you cranky, exhausted, overwhelmed, and gaining weight in your 40s?

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