When I received the following message from Louise, I felt compelled to share it, for both its positive outcome and message of hope. It’s a simple illustration of how helpful Digestive Enzymes can be for anyone experiencing bloating and acid reflux, particularly women going through the menopause.
I don’t consider myself to be an expert in the menopause, although I did go through it myself several years ago, and I know what it feels like to get some menopausal acid reflux and bloating. Thankfully my Just For Tummies Digestive Enzymes kept this in check, as well as a couple of my Charcoal capsules as and when needed.
Gut health as you get older
My knowledge of the gut means that I also know that when we hit 40, our own production of stomach acid and pancreatic enzymes can begin to slow down. This increases the risk of getting acid reflux and bloating, because there are simply not enough ‘digestive juices’ to properly digest your food.
So, it’s a kind of double whammy when women reach that “certain age” – hormones in a constant state of flux and the ageing process, leading to uncomfortable bloating and acid reflux.
Whenever I receive an enquiry from a woman going through the menopause and having issues with acid reflux and bloating, my first thought is to get her to try some of our natural Digestive Enzyme tablets, just one before lunch and one before dinner. It really isn’t necessary to deny yourself the food you enjoy eating, if you chew well, eat in moderation, and take your Digestive Enzymes.
A success story!
I’ve received many messages of gratitude from women who have tried my Digestive Enzymes and have felt the benefit, just like this one from Louise:
‘I stumbled across the Just For Tummies website whilst looking for something to help with menopausal bloating, and I’m so glad I did! I asked for some advice and got a reply almost straight away; I was recommended Digestive Enzymes and I’ve been taking them for a few weeks now and I can honestly say they’ve really helped. I can eat what I want now without suffering, so I will definitely be back to buy more and can highly recommend.’
Louise is not alone when it comes to struggling with menopausal bloating. There are many digestive and gut health issues that can be triggered and/or exacerbated during menopause, but I would say that I am most frequently asked about how to manage the bloating that women find themselves having to contend with when they enter their menopause years.
Acid reflux is another problem that women often contact me about, wondering if it can be caused by menopause or not. The answer to that is a resounding ‘Yes!’ Often caused by changing oestrogen levels, both issues can be very uncomfortable and worrying. The good news is that there are several perfectly natural ways to manage these symptoms.
What does oestrogen have to do with digestive issues?
The hormone oestrogen is important for maintaining the correct amount of water and bile in the body. As levels begin to decrease during menopause, the body tends to store more water, making you feel bloated. In addition, the amount of bile produced alters – this affects the way you digest fats, leading to more wind or flatulence being produced in the digestive system.
Oestrogen also helps to regulate the stress hormone cortisol – the ‘fight or flight’ hormone, triggered by stress. As such, as oestrogen begins to decline, things get a lot more stressful and we feel as though we are not coping as well as we were.
Cortisol also has the effect of slowing down the digestion of food, so our bodies can focus our energy on reacting to the perceived threat. And, again, this can lead to numerous digestive and gut imbalances.
As decreased levels of oestrogen affect the production of acid in the stomach you can start to experience a lot of discomfort and pain. If you don’t have sufficient stomach acid, the whole process of digestion, absorption of nutrients and elimination of wastes can be affected.
Plus, low stomach acid can also allow pathogens into our bodies that we really don’t want there – bad bugs, viruses, and parasites. Stomach acid is the body’s first line of defence in killing such pathogens, so it plays a very important role. If you want to learn more about stomach acid, please read our blog post: Stomach Acid. Why It’s So Important To Your Health
Why pills aren’t necessarily the answer
Antacids (or PPIs) are often prescribed for acid reflux, but one of the issues with these drugs is that if you take them long-term, there is the possibility that they can interfere with the absorption of minerals such as magnesium, calcium and iron, which are vital in the menopause.
If you’re low in calcium, that can affect your bones, leading to osteoporosis. If you’re low in magnesium, that can give you symptoms such as anxiety, palpitations, muscular aches and pains and poor sleep; if you’re low on iron, you can suffer with fatigue.
Additionally, long-term regular use of PPIs has been linked to an increased risk of getting a nasty gut infection called Clostridium difficile.
How can Digestive Enzymes help manage bloating and acid reflux?
Digestive Enzymes ease the passage of food through the digestive system, reducing trapped painful gas, bloating, and ensuring that the wastes are disposed of the following day. I’ve always thought it ironic that at a time in our lives when we finally have the time and the money to eat out more, we can’t because of the after-dinner bloating.
If you’re getting bloated after meals, then do consider supplementing with a vegan Digestive Enzyme tablet. Just take it with a little water before eating. Your stomach will thank you for it, and so will your waistline!
It’s good to know that, as Louise found, there is a simple, natural solution for this issue. I carry a small supply of my Digestive Enzymes tablets in my bag, in a small pill-pot, and they go everywhere with me. Certainly, if I’m eating late in the evening, eating a larger meal than usual, or having a rich meal with alcohol, I will be taking one, or maybe two, of these tablets before the meal.
If you’re struggling with acid reflux after eating, it is likely that there’s not enough stomach acid to begin the breakdown of food, in particular proteins in a meal, so lots of gasses can be produced in the stomach. These gases can rise to the top of the stomach, putting pressure on the lower oesophageal sphincter – the sphincter that marks the junction between the end of the oesophagus and the stomach – forcing it to open. This enables acid and acid-drenched food to pour out into the oesophagus, burning it.
Other things you can do to manage menopausal bloating and acid reflux
– Look after your digestive system correctly!
Certain foods can cause excess wind. Beans and soft cheese are notorious for producing gas, so try to reduce your intake of these foods. As weight starts to creep on during menopause, many menopausal women try to lose a few kilos and eat more healthily. While this isn’t a bad thing, sudden changes in diet or crash diets can also lead to bloating.
– Eat small meals regularly
You may find that eating like this will prevent your metabolism from slowing down. This means that you will be able to digest food more efficiently, preventing bloating and weight gain.
– Be careful what you drink
Alcohol and caffeine can have an adverse effect on your digestive system, particularly if taken in quantity or regularly. Water, while this can seem boring, can do wonders for your digestive system by flushing out any toxins.
– Keep exercising
A daily walk or doing some yoga poses can move the gas around the digestive system and prevent it from building up and causing bloating. Exercise also helps to reduce stress and boost your overall mood.
Why not join Tummy Talk, my Facebook group, for more digestive, gut and menopause support.