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Menopause and Digestive Problems
The digestive system is an all-important part of the
body that can determine the overall health of a
woman. Many women report that digestive
problems begin to occur in the years leading up to
menopause, called perimenopause. Not only can
digestive problems cause discomfort, but they can
also lead to more serious health concerns.
About Digestive Problems
Women are twice as likely as men to develop
digestive problems. Digestive problems, also known
as gastrointestinal problems or dysbiosis, in women
prior to menopause can come in an array of forms.
Each form has to do with how food is broken down
once consumed. Because the digestive system is a
complex function of the body, issues can arise
anywhere along the trip that food takes, from
consumption to expulsion.
How the digestive system works
Digestion involves mixing food with digestive juices,
moving it through the digestive tract, and breaking
down large pieces of food into smaller pieces.
Digestion begins in the mouth, with the act of
chewing and swallowing, and is completed in the
small intestine.
Once food or liquid is swallowed, the stomach then
takes over by storing the food and liquid, mixing the
food, liquid, and digestive juice produced by the
stomach, and finally emptying the contents slowly
into the small intestine where nutrients are
absorbed. The mixture then moves to the large
intestine and colon and waits to be expelled as
feces.
Symptoms of digestive problems
There are different symptoms of digestive problems
that can indicate different causes.
symptoms of digestive problems:
Cramps
Bloating
Gas
Constipation
Diarrhea
A false urge to have a bowel movement
Causes of Digestive Problems
Although there are many potential causes of
digestive problems, there's a high likelihood that
digestive problems experienced as menopause
approaches have a lot to do with hormonal
imbalance. As a woman's body prepares for
menopause, production of her hormones,
particularly estrogen and progesterone, begin to
decrease. The hormones regulate many different
functions of the body, and when their levels are
altered prior to menopause, she may experience
some or all of the menopause symptoms, including
digestive problems.
Hormonal causes of digestive problems
Cortisol is a “stress hormone” produced by the
adrenaline gland involved in stress responses. It is
known to impede digestion and create digestive
problems, among other adverse reaction, such as
anxiety and panic disorders. As a result of
imbalanced hormones during menopause there is a
high level of cortisol in a woman's body.
Estrogen has an effect on the stress-hormone
cortisol. When estrogen is too low, levels of cortisol
rise, raising blood pressure and blood sugar, and
slowing down the release of stomach acid and the
emptying of the stomach into the small intestine.
This can create some of the symptoms of digestive
problems such as gas, bloating, and constipation.
Other causes
Stress
Poor Diet
Antibiotics
Processed food
abuse
Drugs
Lack of fiber
Environmental
toxins
Lack of raw food
Genetics
Food allergies
Eating habits
Junk food
Risk Factor – Factors the increase
susceptibility
Smoking
Drinking alcohol excessively
Inactivity
Depression
Age
Treatments for Digestive Problems
When exploring treatments for digestive problems,
it's important to begin with methods that are the
least obtrusive, with the least likelihood of side
effects, and progress from there.
Fruits, bread and vitamins: lifestyle treatments and
alternative medicine can be a great way to alleviate
digestive problems
This means that lifestyle changes are the best place
to begin. For instance, sometimes digestive
problems can be alleviated simply by drinking more
water or eating a healthier diet high in fiber.
Home Remedies
Chamomile Tea - This tea contains mild
anti-inflammatories which will sooth and
help the symptoms of an upset stomach.
Exercise – helps your digestive tract to
pass food along more efficiently.
Yogurt - Probiotics provide your body with
more of the “friendly bacteria” in your gut
that help to ensure that you have no
digestive problems
Fiber - helps to regulate issues such as
diarrhea and constipation
De-stress - Anxiety has been linked to
digestive problems, so try to bring down
your stress levels
Typically, combining lifestyle changes and
alternative medicines will produce the best
outcome. Alternative medicines can be different
herbs and supplements, or even techniques like
acupuncture. When seeking out alternative
medicines, keep in mind that because digestive
problems during menopause are associated with
hormone imbalance, look for supplements that
bring a natural balance to the hormonal levels, for
this will go a long way to treating digestive problems
at their core.
Finally, if still experiencing digestive problems, there
are different medications and surgeries that can be
explored. Medications are often prescribed simply
to cope with digestive problems, but do not offer a
cure. Surgery is an option for extremely severe
cases. This final option comes with the most risk
and side effects.
Sources:
•Edwards, Dr. Charmaine. "Digestive disorders are
more prevalent in women". North County Journal.
http://northcountyjournal.stltoday.com.
•Shin, Fukudo. "Role of corticotropin-releasing
hormone in irritable bowel syndrome and intestinal
inflammation". Journal of Gastroenterology. 2007,
Tokyo, Japan.
•"Digestive
Problems".
Aim
for
Health.
www.aim4health.com.