Something I hear quite often from my Menopausal clients is ‘bloating’ or ‘having a bloated tummy’. It’s not often talked about so I thought I would address it in this blog and offer some brief tips and advice that may help during lockdown. Frequently, women who are otherwise slim, eat healthily will say that although hot flushes, mood swings and the many known symptoms of menopause are of course horrible, it is a bloated uncomfortable tummy and weight gain that appears to be around the middle that causes some of the most anxiety.
When oestrogen levels start to fluctuate during menopause the body naturally responds by storing water which can then lead to bloating. Oestrogen also affects how your body digests fat and this can lead to higher levels of gas in the digestive system.
There are a number of other issues that can also lead to bloating of the tummy and gas during perimenopause and menopause and these include:
Menopause and ageing slows the digestive system and in turn causes bloating and gas. This is a vicious circle which can also result in constipation.
Eating healthily through menopause is a given to help with all symptoms including hot sweats, mood swings and many women will make changes in their diet to keep weight down, such as adding more fresh fruits and vegetables and it is worth noting that while your body adapts to any ‘new’ diet changes, you may well see an increase in gas initially. Try to avoid any sudden crash diets as this may also cause bloating.
Even good foods can cause bloating and the known ones include broccoli, beans, dairy and even whole wheat bread, so be aware and also keep a small diary to track any triggers. I always recommend a healthy diet that include lots of fruit, veg, lean protein and lots of water.
Too much salt – hormones cause the body to retain fluids and cutting down on your salt intake will help with bloating. Some people add salt to their food by ‘habit’ without even tasting it first. Make a positive change to break that habit!
Processed foods, take-away’s also all have large amounts of salt. If bloating is becoming a problem, try smaller portions throughout the day rather than big dinners that leave you feeling stuffed. I would also highly recommend all my peri-menopause/menopause clients try having a probiotic/live culture yoghurt daily (if you need advice on this please contact me).
Stress has a negative effect on the digestive system and it is vital to try and keep stress levels down. Obviously reflexology is fantastic for reducing stress and for menopause clients a skilled Reflexologist will balance hormones and work specific techniques for the gut, but during lockdown keep remembering to breathe, find time for self care (long baths, music, baking etc), try an app such as Calm or Headspace, get some fresh air etc. There are also couple of self care hand reflexology videos I have made on my fb page – find 5 mins switch off and give them a go if you are struggling.
Not Drinking enough Water
Drinking water helps the digestive system operate more smoothly and will help to flush toxins and prevent bloating. It works and it is a no-brainer! Try to get into good habits eg, every time you make a cup of tea or have food have a glass of water.
Alcohol is a known trigger for bloating and reducing your intake will certainly help with bloating. Without being a killjoy here my advice here is to drink in moderation and if you are having a couple of glasses of wine perhaps have a couple of glasses of water throughout the evening.
Chew your food thoroughly
Chewing triggers your stomach to begin producing enzymes so by the time you get the food in your stomach, the digestion process can begin. Slow down, don’t rush your food, chew and drink plenty of water.
Swallowing air can lead to increased gas in the body. This usually occurs when drinking fizzy drinks and eating too quickly. Cans of Coke are really huge culprits for a bloated tummy – the sugar will also play havoc with your hormones.
Chewing gum is another big offender for swallowing air. Try to avoid chewing gum and if needs be have a mint instead, or even better sip a peppermint tea which is great for digestive system.
Even if you are not an exercise fan, it is really important during menopause to exercise and keep your body moving – even a 10 min daily walk will make a big difference in keeping things moving in your digestive system and also will help with stress levels. An online yoga/pilates class will also have the added benefit of helping with your posture and keeping good posture will reduce the look of a tummy.
A few subtle lifestyle and diet changes can make a huge difference and help you take charge of your body. There are of course other reasons that can cause bloating and it is important that if you begin experiencing bloating that your first port of call is always your GP for advice.
Women’s Health & Reproductive Reflexology are my passions and I am trained to treat holistically your whole body, your mind and spirit. I will always provide an indepth consultation, a look at diet, lifestyle, stress levels and bespoke reflexology treatments for you.
Hope this helps, keep going everyone! See you soon,