This episode we go where others fear to tread and we are talking about the digestive issues that come to visit us during the approach to menopause. Symptoms that we might never have even thought of as having a connection with declining Oestrogen levels. Digestive system issues are definitely something that I can speak to from my own experience; blown up like a balloon, constipation, diarrhoea and nausea are some of the common digestive symptoms of the menopause.
This is an area and a function of body that we don’t like to speak about as a general rule; my mother is the exception and she can bring bowels into just about every conversation! But recent advances in our knowledge of the microbiome and the gut brain axis mean that our digestive processes are a priority for overall health and wellness.
Digestion getting in the way?
For lots of people digestive difficulties can creep up on us. Food and drinks that we used to be able to ‘get away with’ begin to cause us problem from the inconvenient to the downright painful. When your insides are rebelling, this unpredictability can generate anxiety around eating, socialising and even work situations.
So how can we keep our digestive system in good order?
It is important to keep things moving smoothly and create balance. From a Chinese medicine perspective if you are hot it is worth considering the balance of the hot and cold type foods. If you are overheating on a regular basis consider reducing hot foods, but don’t go overboard on the cold raw foods which can slow down digestion.
Eat seasonally, eating locally eating, organic if possible, to try and avoid the excessive amounts of pesticides and other chemicals that are on a lot of crops because they can play havoc with your digestive system as we’re discovering more and more.
Make time for food
it’s so easy nowadays to grab food on the go particularly lunch and eat while they’re trying to do something at the same time. Creating time for our mealtime so that that meals are not rushed; make it into a real event and take time out of your working day. Digestion starts in your mouth and chewing your food 20-30 times allows the saliva to get mixed in with it beginning the breakdown of cell walls and saving work lower down in the digestive tract.
Mindful eating starts with the preparation of a meal, thinking about what you are going to choose to eat and making wise choices. As Julie Andres said, ‘let’s start at the very beginning’. Consider the ingredients, how we’re going to cook them, what we’re going to make and a plan to enjoy some time dedicated to enjoying your meal. Choose nutritionally dense food to feel well and think well.
Constipation is something that can feature for women around this time and if this is the case for you then consider hydration and how much moving you have done in a day. It is possible to promote digestive ‘flow’ with some particular movements which I demonstrate in the video clip of this podcast.
There are some general massage points along the Stomach Meridian in Chinese medicine that can offer assistance. Massaging the lower legs from the knees to the ankles on the outside of the shins can be helpful for keeping things moving and there are two points either side of your navel about an inch to each side that can be massaged with the tip of a finger. Stomach 36 in particular is a very influential point to encourage and facilitate digestion.
The fibre content in food facilitates throughput but it also provides nourishment for the microbiota. The recommended daily amount for adults for consumption of fibre is 30 grammes but the daily average closer to 15g.
Walk your way to a better digestion
There are acupuncture points that lie in the vicinity of the sacroiliac joints of the pelvis that are influential for the intestines and we can influence these joints through movement and in particular walking even if you can’t get outside going up and downstairs moves these joints.
A healthy digestion and maintaining a healthy microbiome can help to protect us against disease which become more prevalent as we move into midlife and towards menopause. Make some time today to move and then be still and enjoy every mouthful of your next meal.
This episodes contributors are:
Phillipa Butler: Chartered Physiotherapist, Certified Pilates Teacher, Yoga and Meditation Teacher
Nikki Chamberlain: Health and Wellness Coach
June Tranmer Acupuncturist and Kinesiologist
Jacquie Whur Clinical Hypnotherapist
Disclaimer: Please note that any advice we provide in this podcast is for information only, and if you are unsure of its suitability for your specific circumstances, you should consult your medical practitioner if you have any specific health concerns.