As if messing with our moods, weight, and body temperature isn’t enough, turns out that menopause can also disrupt our digestive systems. Bloating, cramping, constipation, acid reflux and excess gas can all occur as our estrogen levels begin to drop. Why? Because a lack of estrogen causes a rise in the stress hormone cortisol, which can be linked to issues including higher blood sugar and slower digestion. Rather than chalk it up to one more aspect of menopause you have to deal with, take control of the situation.
You don’t have to live with discomfort. There are things you can do to help manage many of the digestive issues you may be experiencing. Here are five ways to improve your gut health and get on with your life:
1. Skip the Sugar. Sugar and artificial sweeteners may cause hormone havoc (not to mention weight gain) so try to keep the consumption of these to a minimum. Check labels and be aware of “hidden sweeteners,” like high fructose corn syrup.
2. Avoid Alcohol. Or at least cut back. Alcohol is filled with gut inflaming sugar, plus it can affect your mood, as well as disrupt your sleep patterns. Chances are many of you are already having trouble sleeping due to night sweats, so why in something else that can disrupt your rest if you can avoid it?
3. Go Pro. Probiotic that is. As your hormones decline, so does the healthy bacteria in your gut. Adding probiotics to your diet either through fermented products like kombucha or yogurt, or through supplements, such as Bonafide’s Essential Gut Probiotic, can help you keep your good, gut healthy bacteria, balanced.*
4. Veg Out. Eating a wide variety of fiber rich vegetables can help keep your digestive system moving in the right direction. Bonus? You are adding plenty of good nutrients into your body without consuming a lot of calories.
5. Think Small. Eating smaller meals throughout the day is less taxing to your digestive system than consuming three large ones. That can translate to less bloating and constipation. Smaller meals can also help to keep your blood sugar regulated, which can help you to avoid that midday slump.
Making a few tweaks to your diet can go a long way in helping you deal with the inflammation, bloating and other digestive health issues that can plague you during menopause—but it’s not the only thing that helps. Getting regular exercise and drinking plenty of water go hand in hand with keeping you, and your gut, happy and healthy.