WOMEN’S HEALTH: Change of Life Can Mean Changes in Digestion

wh-13.jpgThe shift of hormone levels during menopause can throw off your digestive patterns. Taking digestive supplements regularly can help keep you regular!

Like pregnancy, menopause is one of those periods of life when your hormones fluctuate even more than they normally do — so much so that you might experience digestive troubles similar to those of a pregnant woman. Indigestion, flatulence, gas and nausea are all possibilities. This is annoying if it happens to you, but there are natural supplements available that can improve the digestive aspects of women’s health.

The cause of hormone-induced digestive troubles has two aspects:

  • Estrogen is a gastrointestinal stimulant, and varying levels can have you alternating between loose and dry stools.
  • Your liver can become fatigued in its attempt to break down the excess hormones produced during menopause.

One function of the liver is to ‘recycle’ excess substances. When hormones circulating in the blood are no longer needed, the liver breaks down their ‘parts’ to make them available for the production of more hormones. Some hormones are produced in such enormous quantities during menopause that the liver gets overloaded, and does not devote the normal energy to the digestion of food. Thus, indigestion.

How to Help Your Digestive System Naturally

If you suffer from either diarrhea or constipation, try taking a fiber supplement. Though fiber softens stools and is usually taken to relieve constipation, it also has a ‘bulking up’ effect, and can bulk up stools enough to slow things down if you’re suffering from diarrhea. Pysllium husk is a common fiber supplement used for this.

Doctors prescribe something called the BRATTY diet for diarrhea that is not caused by an infection. The BRATTY diet consists of:

  • Bananas
  • Rice
  • Applesauce
  • Toast
  • Tea
  • Yogurt

Bananas replace lost potassium and firm the stools. Rice and toast also firm the stools, but must be eaten plain. Applesauce contains pectin, a natural bulking agent. Tea replaces lost fluids, but again, drink plain. Yogurt contains protein and replaces the helpful bacteria that can be lost after a couple days of diarrhea. Make sure the yogurt contains ‘live cultures.’

Now let’s look at the second scenario — indigestion.

Enzymes are substances that accelerate and control chemical reactions. Papain is an enzyme found in the papaya fruit. Papain breaks down proteins. Papaya enzyme supplements taken after a meal can help you to digest proteins and help your liver when it’s handling a hormone overload. This relieves heartburn, gas and nausea.

Don’t wait till you’re hit with diarrhea, constipation, flatulence or heartburn — a regular intake of extra fiber and papain supplements will keep your digestive system working more smoothly and help you maintain good women’s health.

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