3 surprising digestive troubles during menopause

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Menopause Advisor
Ask Eileen

04 February 2019

Today's topic

Hello, and welcome to my weekly video blog. Today on A.Vogel Talks Menopause, I'm going to be discussing three surprising digestive troubles that can happen during the menopause.

Can menopause affect your digestive system?

So, can the menopause affect your digestion? Absolutely! It's a really common symptom and a lot of women find that their digestion gets worse for all sorts of various reasons.

A lot of it is to do with stress and for those of you that have been with me for a while you know that the nervous system is very often engaged as we go through the menopause. It's just part and parcel of the way the hormones are falling and affecting our body generally. 

And if your nervous system is already under a lot of pressure, it can take very little to tip it over the edge and that will have a very swift effect on your digestion. It stops and whatever part of your digestive tract the food is sitting in, it will sit there for a lot longer and that can cause a whole raft of different digestive problems.

We know that dehydration is a huge issue in the menopause and that in and of itself will affect digestion. If you think about it, your digestive tract is almost like a huge processing plant and it needs lots of water to keep it running smoothly.

Common digestive problems

Now, the more sort of common digestive problems in the menopause will be things like constipation, sluggish bowels, bloating, and indigestion, but there is one or two that we've discovered over the years that women are getting that are maybe not quite so common. Often, they will not associate these symptoms with the menopause and then they end up treating them slightly differently. This means that sometimes they don't feel any kind of benefit.

3 surprising digestive problems you may experience during menopause

1. Burping

So, number one is burping.  This is when you're sitting there, your stomach feels really, really full, and you just want to let that air out. It can be very embarrassing especially if you're eating out or you're in the middle of work or something, and you just feel the need to burp.

The reasons for this can be eating too quickly and these days most of us do, me included. We're in a rush. Instead of sitting down and eating properly, we're probably just eating on the run. You will find, too, that if you are eating at your desk, if you are eating while watching TV, you tend to sit like this.

That then squashes the stomach, so it can't work properly to break your food down. As it sits in your stomach, it will start to ferment, hence all the burping. Drinking too much water as well at meals can do this. If there’s too much liquid in the stomach when it’s trying to digest everything then that will cause fermentation too.

What can help ease burping?

So the tips here; eat slowly and just relax while you're eating as well. It can make a huge difference. We have a super remedy called Digestisan which can be used for things like indigestion and these types of stomach issues.

2. Burning throat

Number two is burning throat. It's sometimes named acid reflux and the other word for it is G-E-R-D which is, if I can remember, gastroesophageal reflux disease. What's happening here is that there's a valve at the top of the stomach which keeps your stomach contents where they should be.

If this valve gets weakened, then again, if there's a lot of pressure in the stomach, the acid will start to rise up the oesophagus and that can cause a lot of burning. For some people, it can rise right up and that's why they call it burning throat. It's a really horrible one.

The only thing I would say here is a lot of it is to do with the digestive tract being affected by falling oestrogen. Similar to getting a weak bladder, you can end up with a weak stomach valve. The really important thing here is that if you're getting this burning sensation, please get this checked out by your doctor first.

This is one of the more serious digestive diseases from the stomach, and it does need to be checked medically before you start to do anything.

What can help ease burning throat

If you get everything checked out, and you are okay, then we have a lovely remedy called Silicol. It's very soothing and healing. It's a great one for all those kind of burning digestive issues. You just take that in a little bit of water before each meal - a lot of people find that it works really quickly in helping to calm these types of stomach issues up.

My top tip:

Silicol®gel can help soothe acid reflux and heartburn, as well as common symptoms of IBS including flatulence, nausea, stomach aches and discomfort. It’s best to take 15ml three times daily, half an hour before any solid foods and 1 hour apart from any medications.

Lovely soothing product. Works for me for Heartburn and IBS”

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If you're just getting acid reflux and find that it's not too bad, but you're just getting that little bit of acidity, we've got a great remedy called Centaurium which is a stomach balancer.  It will help to balance stomach functions whether you're either producing too much acid or not enough acid.

So you don't really need to know the exact details of what's going on in the stomach. It's what's called a bitter and bitter herbs are fabulous for the digestive tract. They're well worth taking on a regular basis if you're getting these kinds of problems.

3. Flatulence

The third symptom is flatulence and wind. This is, again, it's another antisocial one and if you're getting a lot of it, it can be very embarrassing. It's also very uncomfortable, especially if you're out and about or you're with company and you're trying to hold it all in.

So, one of the main issues here is that digestion slows down in the menopause, especially in the lower digestive tract, so foods can sit there for quite a long time and, again, if stress is involved, everything is going to sit there doing nothing.

This decomposing food in the digestive tract will start to ferment and that will give off a lot of wind. Unfortunately as well, we know in the menopause that it can be more difficult for your body to digest carbohydrates. So if you have a high-carb diet, this can cause a lot of wind and flatulence as well.

If you're getting sluggish bowels or if you find that you're not going to the toilet as often, then that's all part of this particular problem as well. I have a nice little tip if you want to know whether you're sluggish or not, because a lot of people say to me, "But I go to the toilet every day. I'm very regular."

You can be regular, but you can also be very, very slow. It's the transit time that's important here. A nice little tip to find out how long it takes food to get from one end to the other is to do the sweetcorn test. Sweetcorn is one of the few foods that tend not to break down in the digestive tract unless you chew it really well.

So all you would do is have a portion of sweetcorn and then just wait and see how long it takes to pop out the other end. A good swift digestion, you're looking at maybe 24 hours or less. If it ends up being over 30 hours from the time you eat it until the time it's passed, then that's just an indication that things are a little bit slow and maybe you need to up your intake of vegetable fibre a little bit more.

What can help ease flatulence?

If you're having these bloating and wind problems, we've got a remedy called Yarrow Complex, so this is a nice one. It helps to ease the discomfort of this kind of bloating, cramping and wind. 

Tips to help your digestion

These are just going to be a few tips to help your digestion, either to improve it or just to keep it going well in the menopause.

This is a really important one if you're bloated, if you are getting constipation. It's holding toxins in the body for that much longer as well and that can also contribute to things like fatigue, fuzzy-headedness, and just feeling not quite right. So improving your digestion generally can have a quite a big impact on how you feel day to day.

Sit up

So the general tips; remember to sit well. And for those of us who remember being told by your parents to sit up at the table and put your elbows down, this is a really good idea. If you're sitting up remember what I said at the beginning that if you're slouched over, your stomach can't work particularly well.

Chew well and slowly

So making sure that you sit up for your meal, chew it really slowly, and a good tip is to try and chew each mouthful 20 times. This is very slow, but it will give you a good idea of how you're supposed to start digesting your food.

Limit the amount of water you drink with meals

So sit up, eat slowly, chew well, and the other thing, I'm always going on about lots of water, but eating is the one time when you shouldn't drink a lot because that will dilute your digestive juices and that can then contribute to a lot of the digestive problems.

If you do feel that you need to drink during a meal, then just a small glass will do. I don't drink with my meals and I find it really hard if I'm actually going out somewhere because you're given a lot of water to drink, it actually feels quite uncomfortable for me. So, once you get used to not drinking a lot when you're eating, you might find that that can ease quite a little bit of the stomach discomfort as well.

So, hope that these have been helpful tips for you and I look forward to seeing you next week for another edition of A.Vogel Talks Menopause.

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Did you know?

You won’t get the menopause the minute you turn 50! The average starting age is actually between 45 and 55 and it can often depend on a number of factors including hereditary, weight and health, however every single woman will have an individual menopause.

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