WHY AM I BLOATED? THE LINK TO PERIMENOPAUSE

gut health perimenopause Aug 01, 2022
Why Am I Bloated? The Link To Perimenopause

Ever unbuttoned your pants the second you were out of public view and wondered ‘why am I bloated all the time?’ There are plenty of potential factors that can increase your tendency to bloat, and these only get worse when it’s perimenopause time!

Let’s take a look at the reasons bloating occurs and how you can get it under control naturally.

WHY AM I BLOATED?

First up, let’s talk about what bloating is. It’s when excess gas, liquid or solid has built up in the digestive tract, leading to a swollen abdominal area. This is different to water retention, which is when water builds up in the gaps around the cells.

So we know that one (or more) of those three options is taking up too much room in your gut. But what leads to it in the first place? The most common include:

  • Constipation
  • Overeating (who hasn’t eaten a massive bowl of pasta only to regret it later?)
  • Food intolerances
  • Digestive conditions such as Coeliac disease
  • Low digestive enzymes/stomach acid
  • Stress (no surprise there, stress is involved in everything!)

Now I’m not saying that to be healthy, you can never feel bloated. We’ve all experienced it from time to time, only for it to resolve as soon as we get back to our usual routine. But if you’re reading this because you’re asking ‘why am I bloated?’, there’s a good chance that it’s happening regularly, causing significant symptoms, or both!

THE HORMONAL LINK

Anyone of any age can experience bloating. But unfortunately, those of us going through perimenopause are a tad more prone than the general population. There are a few key reasons for this.

First up is low stomach acid, or hypochlorhydria. As we age, our enzymes and stomach acid reduce. If we’re eating foods that require a lot of enzymes or stomach acid and can’t keep up with demand, the result is bloating. The food ferments, giving off gas and making you feel miserable.

Another factor is reduced motility – or how rapidly food moves through the digestive tract. This is particularly noticeable when your oestrogen level crashes, as it plays a role in motility. When food slows down, you’re more prone to constipation and again, food can ferment in the gut, giving off gas.

We can’t ignore stress. If you’re in your 40s, there’s a good chance you’re juggling all of the things and putting your own needs on the backburner. No judgement – we’ve all been there. But when it comes to bloating, chronic stress is like an atomic bomb hitting your gut health! You destroy the good bugs and let the nasty ones overgrow, leading to a host of digestive symptoms.

This combination is why you’re more likely to notice the onset of bloating during perimenopause.

TIPS TO BEAT THE BLOAT

Now that you know the why, let’s get down to the how – to get rid of bloating, that is! Obviously the most important step is to rule out underlying health concerns that could be contributing. But in the meantime, here are some simple actionable steps to reduce your experience of bloating.

CHEW YOUR FOOD

We all got the lecture when we were younger – chew your food properly, slow down and stop gulping! Well that wasn’t just old-fashioned nagging, but genuine health advice. Eating on the run and not chewing thoroughly are two of the most common causes behind bloating.

When you eat quickly and don’t chew, you get a double whammy – the lack of chewing slows down the digestion of the food (solids) and you swallow more air (gas).

I’m not going to tell you exactly how many times to chew each mouthful, but I do suggest putting cutlery down between each mouthful. This helps you to be more aware of how quickly you’re eating and whether you need to chew a bit more before swallowing it down!

HYDRATE THROUGHOUT THE DAY

This is a bit of a tricky one, but bear with me.

Not enough water = bloating.

Too much water at once = bloating.

Drinking smaller amounts consistently throughout the day = just right.

Water is a must for digestive processes, moving food through the GI tract, preventing water retention and flushing out excess sodium. But if you chug down 1-2L at 6pm because you realise you’ve forgotten to drink water? Instant bloating.

A good rule of thumb is to consume 250-500ml at a time. The obvious exceptions are for hot weather or intense exercise – but even then, you can pace your intake over the period of 5-10 minutes instead of gulping it down in seconds.

DITCH THE BUBBLES

Love your bubbly, carbonated drinks or even your kombucha? The CO2 in these can contribute to a gas build-up in the digestive tract (thus why they make you burp more than other drinks!)

If you’re finding yourself feeling bloated all the time, try going without bubbly beverages for a week or two and see the difference.

Another couple of forms of gas intake to dump? Smoking and chewing gum. Ideally, you won’t do the former at all and keep the latter to a minimum, but it’s something to be aware of.

BREAK UP WITH ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS

If you’re watching your sugar intake, you might be reaching for sweetened alternatives. But these can be a big trigger for bloating, particularly sugar alcohols. Any ingredient that ends with -itol is a likely trigger.

My best advice is to focus on whole foods rather than chasing the sweet high. But if you do want to enjoy the occasional treat or soft drink, natural sweeteners such as stevia or monk fruit might be less of an issue for you.

LET’S TURN ‘WHY AM I BLOATED?‘ INTO ‘HOW AMAZING DO I FEEL NOW?‘

Digestive problems are really common as we age, but they don’t have to be normal!

Your digestive health has a massive impact on your hormones, especially in your 40s when the road to menopause begins for many. Enhancing your gut health is a simple way to reduce your symptoms – I’m talking less chaos and more calm!

If you’re navigating chaotic mood swings, digestive distress and fluctuating hormones, I’m here to help you feel calm, balanced and in control. Book a free 15-minute discovery call to learn how we can have you feeling better than ever!

 

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

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