Our gut health is the epicentre of our wellbeing. This is because when our food is being digested, processed and absorbed efficiently, we are able to receive all the nutrients we need for thriving health. Hormonal changes in the menopause can cause some disruptions to our digestion and bowel habits, which may leave us feeling bloated, uncomfortable and can cause stomach pain.
Why do we get digestive problems during the menopause?
As our oestrogen levels fluctuate and start to fall during perimenopause through to the menopause, it works like a tipping scale with our cortisol levels (our stress hormones). When oestrogen is higher, cortisol is lower. When oestrogen continues to stay low, it means that our cortisol production isn't being regulated. More cortisol produced in the absence of higher oestrogen can cause our blood pressure and blood sugar to rise. This slows down the release of stomach acid such as bile, which weakens the ‘fire’ in our gut. It compromises the pace at which food enters into the small intestine, which leads to overall digestive problems.
How do I know if I have digestive problems?
Digestive problems can feel uncomfortable, painful, upsetting and quite frankly embarrassing if it catches us in a social situation. Digestive problems can cause constipation, diarrhoea, bloating, heartburn, IBS or irritable bowel syndrome, vomiting and lactose intolerance. The three most common digestive problems are gas, wind/bloating and constipation.
What can help with my digestive problems?
The good news is, most women find that their digestive symptoms go away once their hormone levels have found their new rhythm in post-menopause. If you do not wish to wait, there are a number of effective gut-healing practices that can help restore your digestive health.
Popular remedies for digestive problems include:
- Drinking lots of water every day, to hydrate your body
- Eating a plant-based food intake rich in fibre and natural pre/probiotics
- Drinking celery juice or eating celery whole to restore your stomach acid
- Exercising gently and frequently
- Making sure you are getting an adequate amount of sleep
- Embracing a relaxation practice each day to lower stress levels
- Quitting smoking and avoiding secondary smoke
- Reducing excess alcohol consumption
- Avoiding processed foods as much as possible
- Chewing your food slowly and thoroughly
- Enjoying herbal teas that are good for digestion, such as peppermint
If your stomach problems are severe or starting to affect your everyday life, make sure to seek advice from your health practitioner or GP. They will be able to recommend an appropriate course of treatment or may suggest investigation by a gut specialist.