What Causes Bloating in Menopause?

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Have you been to Bloatsville? Almost every woman I talked to shared their experiences of having been there. It’s the famous town in Menopause City where your tummy feels overly full, stretched and gassy! 😳

Interestingly, many perceive bloating as a “normal” discomfort — like it just goes with life! Well, it’s not. Bloating is actually one of your body’s ways to tell you things are not right! So, let’s take it seriously, because bloating and other digestive issues can be a growing ground for diseases!

Now, why does bloating occur in menopause? 🤔

Bloating usually occurs in menopause because of hormonal imbalance, water weight (fluid retention), gut problems, poor digestion, food sensitivities, unhealthy eating habits, stress and underlying health conditions.

Let’s talk more about the different causes of bloating in menopause:

  1. Hormonal Imbalance

Many women believe in these equations: Menopause = bloating. Menstrual period = bloating. But, let’s not overlook the root cause —hormonal imbalance!

Here’s how it goes: Estrogen often acts as a fluid retaining hormone. On the other hand, progesterone is a natural diuretic. Therefore, when these hormones are thrown off balance, you experience bloating!

Moreover, hormones also interact with the digestive system. Both estrogen and progesterone can cause intestinal gas by either slowing down or speeding up your motility

You see, being in menopause doesn’t automatically mean you’ll have a lot of bloated moments. This discomfort can be prevented by keeping your hormones at healthy levels! 😘

2. Water Weight

Water weight happens when your body holds on to extra fluid. This results in water bloat — usually around the abdominal area. But, here’s the thing: Water bloat is not caused by drinking too much water! Instead, it is triggered by salty foods, bad carbs, food intolerances, lack of exercise and again — hormonal imbalance. 🙃

3. Gut Problems

Increased gas in the gut can cause tension and bloating. Also, when bad bacteria overpower good bacteria in the gut, it will strike the healthy gut balance! Among the many factors that can change the balance of your gut microbiome are processed foods and added sugars.

One of the symptoms of poor gut health is having puffy eyes. So, do we grab a new cream to soothe our eyes? Of course, not! Remember, our body is made of beautifully complex systems. Therefore, identify and heal the root cause, sweetie! 😉

4. Poor Digestion

Slow digestion can lead to gas. Many menopausal women also experience constipation for the same reason! Once the digestion process slows down, food gets enough time to ferment in the digestive tract. Moreover, sensitivities to certain foods, like gluten and dairy, can result in poor digestion and excess gas!

5. Unhealthy Eating Habits

As a real foodie, it was challenging to let go of certain foods I used to eat. It took me many lessons (and symptoms) to finally cut them out of my diet! I had symptoms like puffy eyes and constipation — which eventually made me embrace intermittent fasting. I also learned the importance of keeping my insulin levels low, so I started going low-carb. When I saw great results, I realized that staying healthy is actually not hard at all!

The most common culprits of bloating are processed foods, dairy and sugar. Lack of probiotics and insufficient fiber intake could also be possible factors! However, incorporating fiber into your diet too quickly can cause more bloating. So, make sure to add it slowly and get it from the right sources!

6. Stress

Stress takes a toll on everything – our emotions, mental state, personal relationships and even our relationship with food! In fact, research found that high levels of the stress hormone cortisol can lead to bloating. Stress can either slow down or speed up digestion and disrupt our gut microbiome!

So, it’s probably a good idea to avoid eating when you’re feeling stressed or anxious. This way, you can prevent bloating, constipation and arguments at the dinner table! 😅

What Causes Bloating in Menopause?
What Causes Bloating in Menopause?

Underlying Conditions That Can Cause Bloating

In some cases, bloating could be due to underlying health conditions such as oxalate overload, small intestinal bacterial growth (SIBO), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), candida (yeast overgrowth), pelvic floor dysfunction and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

• Oxalate Overload. According to Functional Medicine expert Dr. Sara Gottfried, oxalates are naturally occurring compounds that can interfere with our body’s nutrient absorption! They are usually found in foods like spinach, kale, nuts, beans and chocolate. Research also found that oxalates can form painful crystals in the kidneys, bladder, vulva and gut wall!

• Small Intestinal Bacterial Growth (SIBO). High concentrations of bacteria in the small intestine can cause many digestive problems — including bloating. A breath test can help you determine if this is causing your digestive issues!

• IBS. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) consists of symptoms that cause abdominal pain, changes in bowel movements and digestive problems like bloating!

• GERD. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (acid reflux) is a condition in which the contents of the stomach “flow backward” to the esophagus! This is why gas and bloating are among the common symptoms of acid reflux.

• Yeast Overgrowth. Yeast overgrowth or “candida” can also cause gas and bloating. Yeast plays an essential role in maintaining a healthy gut environment. So, when the gut bacteria are out of balance, it can allow the yeast to grow unchecked!

• Pelvic Floor Dysfunction. Pelvic floor dysfunction happens when a person cannot coordinate the pelvic floor muscles for bowel movement. Besides having a hard time in the restroom, this condition also results in bloating and constipation!

Inflammatory Bowel Disease. IBD is a group of disorders that cause chronic inflammation (pain and swelling) in the intestines. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are the most common conditions under IBD. Typically, women with IBD experience symptoms like bloating, stomach cramps, diarrhea, gas and fatigue . Research also found that IBD results in additional challenges for women when going through the menopause transition.

7 Ways to Relieve and Prevent Bloating Naturally

You can relieve and prevent bloating naturally by eating healthily, hydrating, avoiding processed foods, mindful eating, keeping a food diary, and trying herbal teas, bitter drops & organic remedies!

  1. Embrace an eating regimen that works best for your needs!

Sometimes, we need a certain diet to figure out the actual problem. Elimination diet, Ayurvedic diet, Autoimmune Protocol diet (AIP) and Food Combining may help point to the root cause of your discomfort!

Elimination Diet: An eating plan that omits a food or group of foods believed to cause an adverse reaction (food intolerance). By removing certain foods for some time and reintroducing them during a “challenge” period, you can learn which foods are causing symptoms or (making them worse)!

Ayurvedic Diet: Encourages mindful eating and consuming foods appropriate for your “dosha” or energy type. The energy of each dosha helps determine what to eat to promote overall health and wellness! In Ayurveda, they have a dish called “Kitchari” that you can eat 3 times daily to clean out the system. Kitchari Recipe!

Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) Diet: This focuses on healing the gut by eliminating foods that cause inflammation. AIP diet can also help reduce symptoms for those with autoimmune disease. For the first few weeks, the diet should be strictly followed. After this period, you can begin introducing back foods into your diet and monitoring whether they trigger any side effects.

Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) Diet: This focuses on healing the gut by eliminating foods that cause inflammation. AIP diet can also help reduce symptoms for those with autoimmune disease. For the first few weeks, the diet should be strictly followed. After this period, you can begin introducing back foods into your diet and monitoring whether they trigger any side effects.

Dr. Josh Axe shared a food guideline for AIP!

Food Combining: Some experts dub food combining as the “secret to healthy eating.” The idea behind this eating approach is that specific foods pair well together while others do not. Eating foods that complement each other makes digestion easier and nutrient absorption better!

Disclaimer: There is no one-size-fits-all approach to a healthy lifestyle. Successful eating plans need to be individualized and take everything into consideration. So, before starting a new diet plan, it’s best to consult with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian, especially if you have an underlying health condition.

2. Drink enough water, sweetie!

Hydrating will encourage motility along your digestive tract and keep your food from becoming too hard. Water also helps you feel full between meals! 👌

Coconut water is also extra hydrating because it contains electrolytes like potassium and magnesium that can help with fluid balance! This makes coconut water the ideal beverage when you’re feeling bloated, since it can help your body flush out extra salt and fluid!

3. Avoid processed foods!

Processed foods are low in fiber, high in salt and high in unhealthy fats. Yup, these are facts that most of us are aware of. 🙃 But, why exactly should we be worried?

Well, bad salt causes water retention. On top of that, fats slow down the digestive process because it takes longer to digest. All these things can lead to bloating and other digestive issues! Processed foods are also low in nutrition, so they will leave you feeling hungry even after you’ve consumed a lot. Not to mention that they have loads of additives — which are bad toxins we don’t want in our body!

4. Practice mindful eating!

Knowing your gut means knowing what triggers you have. It took me a lot of time (and symptoms) to finally realize this!

To prevent bloating, you can start building a healthy gut by eating slowly. Remember, anything that’s “overloaded” doesn’t go well! Circuit overload, passenger overload, information overload, laundry overload — these are some of the “bad” things we know. It’s time to put “tummy overload” on the list! 😰

Luckily, eating slowly and mindfully can save the day! Mindful eating is getting the “full experience” of your meal. Deborah Kesten and Larry Scherwitz, authors of “The Enlightened Diet”, describe mindful eating as being present, moment-by-moment, for each sensation that happens while eating — such as chewing, tasting and swallowing.

“When you take time to experience your food through all your senses;
taste (flavor), smell (aroma), sight (presentation) sound (of surroundings) and touch (movement of utensils and the feel of the food),
you are likely to be truly nourished.” — The Enlightened Diet

So, take your time. Eat properly at the table — not in front of the computer or in bed! Let mealtime be mealtime. Chew thoroughly. Stop before you are full! Most people eat more than enough because they “don’t feel full yet”. Remember, feeling full is a delayed reaction because it takes a while for food to reach your stomach!

5. Keep a food diary!

My food diary has saved me from a lot of digestive troubles and sensitivities!

Here’s how to do it: Write down the food you eat for a week or two. Be as detailed as possible! Note down how these foods make you feel. You can also try cutting out certain foods for a short period (4-6 weeks) to see if it helps! Trust me, a simple act of writing does wonders in identifying your triggers — not only for bloating but for many menopause symptoms! 💯

You can also use an app to keep track of the nutrients from the food you eat! Health apps will help you see the actual measure of calories, carbs, protein, bad fats, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and more! Through the help of these apps, you will know if you have a good overall balance or if you are missing some vital nutrients! Carb Manager®, FatSecret and MyFitnessPal™ are some of the great health apps you can try!

6. Try herbal teas!

Teas like green tea, peppermint, chamomile, ginger, turmeric and fennel can aid in digestion and help process gas. Dandelion tea can also relieve water retention! As always said, you can’t go wrong when you go natural!

7. Bitter drops might work!

Putting bicarbonate in a glass of water can be good for bloating! Other natural remedies you can try are oregano oil and berberine.

What to Eat When Feeling Bloated and Gassy

In some cases, bloating is accompanied by cramps, burping, diarrhea, constipation, swelling and a lot of gas. So, can we still eat, even if we feel bloated? 🤔

Well, it would be best to let your tummy rest first! Along with that, try natural remedies like herbs, apple cider vinegar, warm lemon water, bone broth, ghee, diuretic veggies, fermented foods and seeds.

► Herbs: Try cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, garlic, ginger, lemon balm, turmeric, nutmeg or parsley!

► Apple cider vinegar: Apple cider vinegar (ACV) has long been used as a home remedy for bloating and digestive symptoms. It is naturally acidic, which means it can raise stomach acid levels (for those with low stomach acidity) to aid digestion! ACV has also become popular among health enthusiasts who claim that it can help reduce inflammation!

► Warm lemon water: Experts recommend sipping on warm water with lemon to “wake up” the digestive system! This can get things moving better and, in turn, reduce the bloat!

Bone broth: The inflammatory properties of bone broth can soothe and nourish the digestive lining. It contains the right nutrients your gut needs to heal, repair and fight bloating!

► Ghee: Ayurvedic practitioners believe that ghee can help lubricate the inside of the intestines. Take warm water with a tablespoon of ghee and have it in the morning on an empty stomach for best results!

► Diuretic veggies: The natural diuretic properties of celery, zucchini and asparagus can help reduce feeling bloated!

Fermented foods: The process of fermentation induces “natural probiotics” that can aid in digestion and prevent digestive problems. You can try kefir, kimchi, kombucha and sauerkraut!

Seeds: Seeds are nature’s little “fart fighters” which can soothe gas attacks, bloating and constipation. They may be tiny, but they are loaded with nutrients! Try fennel, pumpkin, flaxseeds, chia or caraway seeds!

9 Foods to Avoid When Bloated and Gassy

Certain foods tend to stay longer than they should in your winding intestines. These foods love to sit in your digestive “chairs” and watch other foods get moving! 😅

So, that bloated feeling you get after eating certain foods is caused by built-up gases. Basically, you are “inflating” internally like a balloon — making you feel like you’re about to burst!

Here are 9 foods that can give you that “swollen feeling”:

  1. Beans and Legumes
  2. Sugary Foods and Beverages
  3. Dairy
  4. Gluten
  5. Processed Foods (frozen food, fast food, boxed meals, foods with additives)
  6. Wheat
  7. Dried Fruits
  8. Cruciferous Vegetables
  9. FODMAPs (Fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols)

👉 List of FODMAPs!

Watch this video from Dr. Eric Berg to see a more comprehensive list of the best and worst tummy-bloating foods! He also tackled how to “bulletproof” your immune system — to prevent bloating and promote better overall health!

Best and Worst Belly Bloating Foods

Probiotics and Prebiotics for Bloating

Probiotics are foods or supplements that contain live microorganisms to maintain the balanced microflora in our body. On the other hand, prebiotics (typically fiber-rich foods) act as the “food” for the good bacteria!

Probiotics: When we take them (whether in food or supplement form), probiotics provide benefits to us — like the good bacteria that we naturally have. For one, they rebalance your gut bacteria! Some also help you digest your food better, while others may actually help absorb excess gases. You may have to take them consistently for a few days or weeks to notice actual improvements!

Prebiotics: Our digestive system can’t break down prebiotics. So, once we take them, prebiotics eventually reach the part of the colon where the good bacteria hang out! When they meet, the bacteria break down prebiotics into nutrition that helps them grow and thrive.

Here is another video from Dr. Eric Berg, as he explains the differences between probiotics and prebiotics. You will also learn healthy sources to go for!

Difference Between Prebiotics And Probiotics – Dr.Berg

Supplements for Menopause Bloating

Psyllium husks and magnesium are great supplements to prevent bloating, promote regular bowel movement and support your overall gut health!

✅ Psyllium husks are popular fiber supplements that can help you poop regularly — and with ease! More than just being a laxative, research found that these supplements can promote overall digestive health and even heart health! But remember, always add fiber supplements gradually — and with lots of water, sweetie!

✅ Magnesium supplements neutralize stomach acids and relax the intestinal muscles. Magnesium has a natural laxative effect, which can be helpful when needed!

Exercises for Bloating in Menopause

Regular exercise, particularly core body strengthening, can help combat menopause bloating. Many yoga poses, like Cat-Cow, can also promote proper digestion and prevent bloating!

Generally, exercise reduces water retention and keeps your bowels moving. It can also help prevent rapid weight gain!

If you have a desk job, try to get up and walk around now and then. Take regular breaks (at least once every hour) to stretch your legs and tummy! Setting an hourly reminder on your smartphone can make it easier to achieve!

Many studies show that the simple act of moving helps with bloating and constipation. According to Harvard Medical School, our colon responds to activity. So, people who exercise regularly don’t face as many issues related to constipation, digestion and bloating, compared to those who live a more sedentary life! 💪

Want more options, love? Check out my Exercise Archives for a wide range of menopause-friendly exercises! 👉 Exercise Archives – My Menopause Journey

Tests for Bloating and Gas

The top 3 tests recommended by naturopathic doctors to resolve digestive bloat are SIBO Test, Stool Test and Food Sensitivity Test:

SIBO Test: This test is the simplest, non-invasive and easily accessible diagnostic test for suspected SIBO! Using lactulose breath testing, your breath sample is analyzed to see if gases are being produced by an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine.

Stool Test: Stool testing can be helpful to detect if microbiome imbalance is the culprit of your digestive symptoms. The sample is examined and analyzed to see if there’s a presence of harmful bacteria!

Food Sensitivity Testing: The ideal way to check for food sensitivities is a comprehensive elimination diet — naturopathic doctors’ first choice! However, it can be challenging for some to commit to this approach. In this case, you can take a Food Sensitivity Test! This test measures if you have antibodies formed against specific foods. If you have these antibodies and you’re eating these foods regularly (even foods we consider healthy), the immune system responds — by causing symptoms of bloating, gas and IBS.

Don’t miss out on different self-test kits you can try for menopause symptoms! I’m amazed at how convenient, easy and cost-friendly they are! You will also find free hormone quizzes in my full list below! 👇

Menopause Test to Take: Find the Right One For You! (mymenopausejourney.com)

Takeaway

Many things can make us feel bloated in menopause. It could be the food you ate during family dinner, your hormones having a circus ride or simply due to high stress levels. Or maybe, our body just needs to move more! In some cases, bloating could be due to food sensitivities that we are unaware of — or another underlying health condition.

But beyond these possible reasons, there are different ways you can do to ease and prevent bloating! For one, you can embrace a healthy eating way that works best for you! Along with that, we discussed other natural solutions for bloating, such as proper hydration, mindful eating, keeping a food diary, trying herbal teas and other organic remedies!

These are things you can try, but always remember the golden standard first: Figure out the root cause! Otherwise, you will end up having low inflammation in the gut — which can cause a domino effect of other symptoms.

The health of your digestive organs. The health of your respiratory function. The health of your skin. Your immune health. Your emotions. Even your mental health. They all need to be addressed at the root, sweetie! This is the most surefire way to find a sustainable, guaranteed solution. 💖

We would love to hear your thoughts so feel free to add your comments below 💜

Let´s support each other. Use the share buttons in this article, so more women can get help and feel great!

References

Get to the root – Functional Nutrition Alliance (fxnutrition.com)
Belching, Bloating, and Flatulence – American College of Gastroenterology (gi.org)
Bloated Stomach: Causes, Tips to Reduce & When to be Concerned (clevelandclinic.org)
How to Get Rid of Belly Bloat & Water Weight | Livestrong.com
Bloated and Gassy in Menopause: 6 ways to find relief | Gennev
Yes, stress can cause bloating. Here’s what to do (ibsguthealthclinic.co.uk)
Why Am I So Gassy? | Common Causes of Excessive Gas (parsleyhealth.com)
Prebiotics vs. Probiotics: What’s the Difference? – Cleveland Clinic
How Oxalates Affect Your Gut, Urinary Tract, and Risk of Autoimmune Conditions – Sara Gottfried MD
Oxalate-degrading microorganisms or oxalate-degrading enzymes: which is the future therapy for enzymatic dissolution of calcium-oxalate uroliths in recurrent stone disease? | Request PDF (researchgate.net)
Does menopause cause bloating? (livehealthily.com)
Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Symptoms, Treatment & Diagnosis (clevelandclinic.org)
Experience of menopause in women with inflammatory bowel disease: pilot study – PubMed (nih.gov)
12 Foods that Help Reduce Bloating – Cleveland Clinic
35 Foods to Reduce Bloating, Plus 7 Foods That Cause Bloating (greatist.com)
The Elimination Diet (wisc.edu)
Understanding FODMAPS – Canadian Digestive Health Foundation (cdhf.ca)
Mindfulness Helps Us Digest–and Enjoy Our Food | Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing (umn.edu)
Top 3 Digestive Tests to Get to the Root Cause of Your Bloating and IBS – Roots To Branches Whole Health Clinic (rootstobranchesnb.com)

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Gita

Gita is the founder of My Menopause Journey. Since 2014, she has been supporting midlife women by sharing hard-earned learnings from her own experience. To advance her knowledge, Gita puts a lot of her time and effort into understanding the broad spectrum of women’s health. She immerses in extensive research about the physical, mental and emotional aspects of menopause. Gita believes in the life-changing power of healthy, holistic living — this is where she anchors her message to all women. Learn more about her marvelous mission in About us - My Menopause Journey.

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