A number of factors can cause bloating during menopause. You may be bloated because of dietary issues -- such as consuming too much salt or eating your food too quickly -- or because of other potentially more serious issues. Once you've checked with your doctor to rule out any medical causes, you can take steps to help minimize any diet-related belly bloat.
Dietary Changes May Help Reduce Belly Bloat
Dietary changes are usually among the first activities recommended to people suffering from bloating since a wide variety of different foods can cause it. To determine what's causing your belly bloat, note which foods you ate near an occasion when bloating occurred, and try eliminating those foods to see if it subsides. Foods that can cause bloating include high-fat or fried foods or very-high-fiber foods such as bran-type breakfast cereals. Another culprit can be dairy products, if you're lactose-intolerant. The list of food that may induce bloating also includes starchy foods, carbonated beverages, chewing gum, and certain vegetables, such as onions, broccoli, beans, cabbage, turnips and Brussels sprouts. Foods containing fructose or the sugar alcohol sorbitol can also cause bloating in some people.
Exercise to Get Rid of Bloating
Moving more instead of lying down after eating may also help limit bloating. A review article published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology in 2014 noted that exercise and staying in an upright position may help limit bloating and help reduce gas. Exercise can also sometimes help with other symptoms of menopause, including mood swings and hot flashes, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. A review article published in the Journal of Mid-Life Health in 2010 noted that yoga may help to improve the symptoms of menopause, making this a potentially good form of exercise for women suffering from bloating because of menopause, as it may help with other symptoms as well as the bloating. Exercise also helps with weight loss and can help limit weight gain, which can sometimes occur during menopause.
If you get too much sodium in your diet, as many Americans do, it could be causing you to retain water. Limiting your salt intake to the recommended 2,300 milligrams per day for healthy adults will help limit water retention and potentially lower your blood pressure as well. Check labels to find those products that have the least sodium, as most of the sodium in the typical American diet comes from processed foods, such as soups, snack foods, cheese, deli meats and breads.
Weight Gain Versus Bloating
Women are more likely to gain weight as they go through menopause because of hormonal changes, which tend to be associated with increases in both overall body fat and abdominal fat, according to a review published in Climateric in 2012. This increase in abdominal fat may sometimes be mistaken for bloating. Increasing the amount of physical activity you get and changing your eating habits can help limit this risk. Divide your plate equally between fruits, vegetables, lean protein foods and whole grains to help you get the right balance of nutrients. Eating foods low in energy density, or calories per gram of food, at the start of the meal can help fill you up so you eat fewer calories over the course of the meal. Broth-based soups, salads, fruits and vegetables are some examples of low-energy-density foods.
Medications and Bloating
Sometimes the cause of bloating isn't related to diet or digestion, but is brought on by your medications. Hormone replacement therapy can cause belly bloat, so check with your doctor to find out if it's a possibility in your case. Your doctor may consider adjusting your dosage or changing medications to see if lessens your bloating. Other medications -- such as antibiotics, antispasmodics and probiotics -- may be helpful for limiting bloating in women with irritable bowel syndrome. However, the research results on the potential benefits of using these medications for bloating are conflicting.
Other Potential Causes of Menopausal Belly Bloat
Simple slip-ups such as swallowing air or overeating may be responsible for belly bloat. But more serious problems display this symptoms, too, such as esophageal reflux, constipation, ovarian cancer, pancreatic insufficiency, tumors and celiac disease. Don't assume that frequent bloating is from menopause, as it could be from more serious health conditions. Check with your doctor to determine what is most likely responsible with your bloating issues and how best to treat them.
- Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility: Abdominal Bloating: Pathophysiology and Treatment
- Drugs.com: Gas And Bloating
- World Journal of Gastroenterology: Bloating and Functional Gastro-Intestinal Disorders: Where Are We and Where Are We Going?
- MedlinePlus: Abdominal Bloating
- Journal of Med-Life Health: Yoga and Menopausal Transition
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Menopause
- WomensHealth.gov: Menopause and Menopause Treatments Fact Sheet
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Sodium: The Facts
- Climateric: Understanding Weight Gain at Menopause
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Low-Energy-Dense Foods and Weight Management: Cutting Calories While Controlling Hunger Low-Energy-Dense Foods and Weight Management: Cutting Calories While Controlling Hunger