A tummy that balloons in size over the course of a day? Water retention at particular points in your cycle? Sore and tender breasts? You are not alone. Bloating is a common symptom of perimenopause.
Fluctuations in your hormone levels particularly during perimenopause can mean that at times your oestrogen levels become higher in relation to progesterone. Progesterone acts as a diuretic and helps to keep you in balance but when levels of this hormone drop, this can cause you to hold onto fluid, making you feel bloated. Your digestion can become sluggish, you might notice this in the run up to your period when you may become constipated.
There are some simple dietary and lifestyle changes you can make to help alleviate your symptoms.
Drink plenty of water and/or herbal teas
It sounds counterintuitive but can be very helpful. Make sure you avoid fizzy drinks. Some women find that not drinking for 30 minutes either side of a meal helpful for their digestion.
Going for a walk or taking part in other sports you enjoy can help keep everything moving. Yoga can be useful to release trapped wind.
Slow down when you eat
If you eat on the go or rush your food you can swallow lots of air. It’s important to make time to eat, this enables your body to prepare for the food and start the digestive process, so it is more able to deal with it efficiently. Eating mindfully may help you to hear your body’s cues telling you that you’ve had enough. Some women find eating smaller, more frequent meals easier to handle.
Include probiotics in your diet
Kefir, sauerkraut and live yoghurt are a few examples that are easy to incorporate. They will help improve the balance of beneficial bacteria in your gut to enable you to better digest your food when you eat. A well-functioning gut will also help you excrete excess oestrogen and prevent it recirculating in your body.
Include cruciferous vegetables
Cauliflower and broccoli are great examples. These work by helping to improve your liver function and in turn eliminate old hormones from your body more efficiently. You might like to try this Middle Eastern cauliflower and lentil salad
Have a few alcohol-free days
Ideally, three consecutive days alcohol free. This will help your gut flora flourish and improve digestion. You will be less dehydrated which will help to keep everything moving in your digestive tract.
Making sure you are getting enough sleep and managing stress
OK, I know this can be easier said than done during the menopausal years. But I can vouch for the fact that if you can get on top of this, everything else slips into place. One hormone has a direct impact on another, so achieving balance here will help.
It is worth keeping a food diary so you can see any patterns or if particular foods trigger your symptoms. It goes without saying that a varied diet with plenty of fibre will go a long way to helping to you feel better. If you are in any doubt about the cause of your bloating, you should consult your GP.