what helps bloating during perimenopause
Perimenopausal bloating has several common culprits: water retention, weight gain and poor digestion.
Perimenopause is a time of hormonal shifts that can play havoc with mood, weight, sleep, and metabolism. Bloating can also be a consequence of poor dietary choices or decreased digestive function as we age. Read on to explore these conditions and ways to address them. You will be surprised to know there are solutions that help bloating during perimenopause.
Why am I bloated
Bloating at any age is the worst. It can make you look chubby or even pregnant: it can feel incredibly uncomfortable and indicate that something is not quite right. During perimenopause, bloating has several possible causes like water retention, weight gain, and poor digestion. We will investigate each of these in turn and discuss causes and solutions.
Bloating due to water retention
During perimenopause, hormones start to fluctuate unpredictably. It is normal to gain a little water weight before your period begins as women make more progesterone in the second half of their menstrual cycle (days 14-28). Progesterone can be a calming hormone but can also cause acne, moodiness and water retention. Perimenopause is a period when the normal cyclic fluctuations of estrogen and progesterone start to decline. Your cycle may shorten, lengthen, stop and start, or you may skip periods altogether.
You may notice during this time that your weight seems to fluctuate more rapidly than it used to. This is most likely due to hormonal shifts that cause water retention and not true weight gain. Water weight is commonly felt around the midsection so it can feel like bloating. If this is your case or you are experiencing other symptoms of perimenopause (irregular cycles, hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats, etc.), you may benefit from natural options to ease the transition.
Many of my patients benefit from natural hormonal support in the form of seed cycling and herbal or homeopathic perimenopause support. Adrenal support can also be a game-changer for perimenopause as the adrenal glands regulate many other body systems, such as thyroid and metabolism, sleep, immune function, and hormones.
Bloating due to weight gain
The sad truth is that metabolism tends to slow down around perimenopause. I cannot tell you how many patients have said to me, “I did not change my exercise or diet, and I am gaining weight!” Unfortunately, this is something you, too, may be battling if you are noticing a little extra paunch around your midsection. While metabolism can slow down during this period, it is not a hopeless fate. Several lifestyle modifications are effective at boosting metabolism. Intermittent Fasting (IF) and High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) are two great techniques that we will explore this month at She is You.
Beyond normal metabolic shifts, you may also be struggling with an undiagnosed metabolic disorder. Hypothyroid is a very common endocrine disorder that can often take years to be properly diagnosed. January was thyroid awareness month, so be sure to go back and review some of my thyroid-centered articles for more detailed information. Autoimmune hypothyroid (i.e., Hashimoto’s) can be present for 10-20 years before becoming apparent in lab work. When my patients feel that something is “not right” or signs of a slowing metabolism, I often run a detailed thyroid panel to investigate; if you feel that something is off, find a healthcare provider to work with you to find answers.
Bloating due to poor digestion
While all of the causes of bloating can operate individually or together, this is the most common cause of bloating. In general, if a patient feels bloated (or gassy) after meals, they are either eating something they cannot digest, or their digestion is weak and insufficient to handle what they have eaten. We can be sensitive to food such that consuming it will cause symptoms – a rash, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, etc. It can be hard to pinpoint the trigger food since the symptoms do not always show up immediately after eating. This is different than the classic allergic reaction, which causes symptoms soon after ingestion/exposure. A food sensitivity blood test or an elimination diet can help discover our hidden food triggers for these delayed reactions. Alternatively, digestive capacity tends to decrease with age. How many people boasted in their teens and 20s that they could “eat anything?” Now, that ability has waned because we produce less stomach acid and fewer digestive enzymes as we age. If this is the case for you, it may be particularly noticeable with heavy meals or meat consumption as protein is dense and harder for the body to break down.
For diminished digestive capacity, try taking 1 teaspoon of ACV (apple cider vinegar) with a squeeze of lime juice in 4 ounces of water 20 minutes before a meal. This stimulates the body to ramp up the production of stomach acid. Another option is taking 1 teaspoon of a digestive bitter tincture which has a similar effect. For something stronger, I often recommend a high-quality digestive enzyme supplement, particularly one with HCl (stomach acid).
Water retention, weight gain, and digestive challenges are all common causes of bloating during perimenopause. Try some of the suggested solutions and consider working with a trained complementary medicine provider to optimize your health during this time of transition.