Menopause is a season of vast change for women. Hormone fluctuation impacts various facets of life including
- Energy levels
- Brain function
- Physical health
- And emotional health
This transition of hormones spurs distressing symptoms that make life uncomfortable for many women. But did you know that having a happy, healthy, well-functioning gut can alleviate the symptoms of menopause? Keep reading to find out more!
What Is A Healthy GI System?
GI health is a hot topic in the health and nutrition world right now. But what exactly constitutes a healthy GI system?
First, let’s start with this fact- your gut is home to at least 70% of your immune system! That is a huge percentage and some researchers think it could be even more. Needless to say, if your gut isn’t at peak performance, you are at risk for systemic inflammation and disease.
A healthy GI system is one that can digest food all the way through the digestive system from beginning to end and have successful waste removal. A well-functioning GI breaks down the food we eat into its components and extracts the vitamins and minerals to nourish our body and our bones.
When this system is off-line we can’t eliminate the waste properly and we get constipated- which backs the whole system up.
Why Is Constipation Bad For Gut Health?
When the digestive system backs up, waste and toxins, such as estrogen metabolites, aren’t being cleared from the body. The stool remains in the colon and becomes harder and harder from water absorption. This can damage the mucosal lining of the colon. When these toxins aren’t eliminated and the mucosal lining is damaged, it can impact our entire system causing systemic inflammation, increased joint pain & swelling, and abdominal bloating.
Menopausal hormone fluctuations can influence constipation and GI function as well due to the declining levels of estrogen and progesterone and increased cortisol levels. Increased cortisol decreases digestion. When digestion slows we can experience symptoms such as:
- Acid reflux
- Abdominal cramping
- weight gain
- And nausea.
How To Keep Your GI System Healthy
Chew Chew Chew
Chewing activates stomach acid which breaks down the food we eat. Chewing 20-30 times is necessary for the first part of digestion to occur. If the food isn’t chewed enough, then there is a lack of absorption of minerals in the small intestine. Lack of chewing can also result in heartburn and reflux. Chewing increases the amount of stomach acid we produce. The presence of stomach acid causes the sphincter, or door, between the stomach and esophagus to close, which prevents reflux.
Re-evaluate What You Eat And How Much You Eat
The way you ate in your 20s isn’t going to be the same as in your 40s. The body over time can’t tolerate certain foods the way it used to. Hormones, stress levels, and your response to stress all change as we age. And stress significantly impacts the digestive system.
In our fast-paced world, it isn’t uncommon to multi-task our way through meals. Taking the time to actually slow down and eat a meal can improve your digestion and your productivity.
Examine How You Respond To Stress
Stress is a part of life. In fact, we need a small amount of stress to live, but how we respond to it makes the difference. When we stay in a constant state of stress the body produces more cortisol which impacts pain, energy levels, and as mentioned earlier, digestion.
If you’re in perimenopause or menopause, increased stress levels could put you into a hormone fluctuating state that increases symptoms of hot flashes and histamine responses causing dry itchy skin, joint pain, and difficulty with weight.
Keeping Your GI System Healthy Helps Keep The Body In Check
By chewing your food, re-evaluating your eating habits, and reducing your stress levels, you can keep your digestive system happier. This in turn will decrease systemic inflammation and improves your hormone balance - something everyone needs, especially those going through the transition into menopause.