Bloating is a common symptom for many women. It can be a frustrating, especially when you are not sure what is causing your bloating. Many ladies feel they look pregnant and can only wear certain clothes to hide their tummy. This can be restrictive and may lead to poor body image which can affect your self-confidence as it may leave you feeling self-conscious.
Your tummy can feel rock hard, and the bloating can start at any time of the day. You wake up with a bloat free tummy and by the end of the day your stomach is bloated, and you may have a feeling of fullness. For some of you, the bloating can be accompanied by painful cramps.
There could be a number of reasons why you may be bloated, for example, food intolerance, unbalanced gut bacteria, constipation, stress or the type of food you eat. Your hormones, especially if they are imbalanced, could be another reason why you are suffering from bloating.
How do I know if I have hormonal imbalance?
Irregular, heavy or painful periods
Low sex drive
Hormone imbalance may be caused, your lifestyle, your diet, stress, certain medications, or autoimmune conditions.
Why do my hormones cause bloating?
There are two main sex hormones that are involved in your monthly cycle, oestrogen, and progesterone. Every month your hormones follow a certain pattern, at certain times your hormones will fluctuate, as one rises the other falls. If you have too little of one or too much of the other you may experience the symptoms of hormone imbalance as described above, including bloating.
If your hormones are imbalanced and you are experiencing bloating this may manifest as a sluggish bowel where you experience constipation and flatulence, upset stomach, water retention, or weight gain.
If you experience constipation and flatulence in the lead up to your period then progesterone may be the culprit. Progesterone has a calming effect on your digestive system and slows everything down. This can show as constipation which can lead to bloating.
At the other end of the scale, some women experience diarrhoea when their period starts, and this may also cause bloating. A hormone like substance called prostaglandins rise as your period starts. The role of prostaglandins is to make your uterus contract, so it sheds its lining and signals the start of your period. The prostaglandins may also stimulate your digestive system, and this is what causes the period poos and your bloating.
Another reason for your hormonal bloating could be due to water retention. Oestrogen, in some women, may cause water retention. This is where your body holds onto water, due to the fluctuations in hormone levels, and results in bloating.
For some women, weight gain might be the reason behind their bloating symptoms. The fluctuating levels oestrogen and progesterone can lead to sugar cravings which may have you reaching for the biscuit tin. The changing levels of these hormones can also reduce levels of serotonin. To boost levels of this feel-good hormone, your body will crave carbohydrates such as crisps, crackers or other savoury snacks. These types of foods are often high in salt and the high salt content can also increase fluid retention.
How to get rid of hormonal bloating
So, what can you do to reduce hormonal bloating? These are my favourite simple steps you can take to support your bloating symptoms:
Drink plenty of water
If you suffer from water retention, then this may seem counter intuitive but increasing your water intake helps to reduce fluid retention. If your body is dehydrated, it may hold onto water resulting in water retention. Drinking water may also help reduce your sugar cravings. Dehydration makes it difficult for your body to produce energy which can lead to you feeling more tired. As a result, your body craves sugar to give you a quick boost of energy. Therefore, when sugar cravings strike, drink a glass of water and wait for a few minutes; the craving will likely disappear.
Increase your protein intake
Protein is your best friend as it is going to help control your food cravings and reduce the urge to snack. Protein helps to sustain your energy levels over the course of the day by keeping you full and satisfied. Include protein with every meal; breakfast, lunch and dinner and, if you feel you need them, protein should be included in your snacks as well.
Eat healthy fats
Including a small amount of healthy fats in your everyday diet, helps to improve your sugar cravings and energy levels by keeping you feeling full, satisfied, mentally alert, focused, and motivated. Healthy fats are different to processed fats such as trans fats, found in margarine, commercial baked goods (cakes, biscuits), fried foods, or vegetable oils. Healthy fats help to balance your hormones and improve your mood.
Eat magnesium rich foods
When it comes to your hormones, magnesium is essential. Magnesium is needed to make your hormones, so if you are low in magnesium, you may have a hormone imbalance and experience other symptoms. Magnesium has crucial for the production of oestrogen, progesterone and serotonin. If you are low in magnesium you may experience PMs symptoms such as bloating.
There are many foods that contain magnesium. The following foods are rich in magnesium:
Green leafy vegetables (kale, spinach etc)
Dark chocolate (the darker the better)
Legumes (lentils, beans, chickpeas, peas and soybeans)
Wholegrains (Rice, buckwheat, quinoa)
If you have any questions about this article in relation to your own health, why don’t you book in for a free chat with me? Click here to book.