This blog rounds up my short series on menopause and some of the major symptoms and their causes. Today we're looking at a host of Bs - bloating, brain fog, body odour, burping and bleeding gums.
These are all symptoms of being somewhere in the menopause and can be exacerbated by the hormonal transition.
But just what do they all have in common? The answer, you guessed it, is a gut that is out of balance! I experienced this first-hand about 4 years ago. One thing I never wanted to pick up was a gut parasite. I'd seen what one had done to a couple of clients and a fellow shiatsu practitioner and then I got one. Gardia is quite rare, and difficult to get, and it took me 6 weeks to get diagnosed. In that time, I could barely stand straight, my stomach always felt tight and distended.
I'm a Chinese medicine practitioner and we study what exits the body and so I knew my liver, gallbladder, small intestine and large intestine were all affected. Once diagnosed and taking antibiotics (for the first time in over 10 years), I started to feel a lot better. But did I really get better? I began to experience a whole host of new symptoms. I'd never had body odour like it! I was already suffering from gums bleeding easily, the bloating and stomach pain was almost a way of life, belching was new to me, and brain fog was also something I thought I just 'had to put up with' during the menopause.
At a show I came across microbz and tried it because having had antibiotics I now knew I needed a good probiotic to repopulate my gut flora. This led me on a journey to understand how impaired gut health and menopausal symptoms are related. I'm a 'try now, understand the science later' kind of person but the more I researched what impacted my health when my hormones were changing the more I wondered if every menopausal woman also has these symptoms? I'
ve come to understand that the stress the hormonal change of the menopause puts your health under is like a magnifying glass, highlighting health imbalances you probably weren't aware of. Some of the more embarrassing symptoms that appear like body odour aren't talked about but smells that escape are a sign that your body isn't functioning as well as it can, and this goes for having bad breath too. Brain fog has many contributing factors but the root of them all is what passes through the gut.
When you eat foods that cause inflammation, they are missing nutrients that your brain desperately needs; the bacteria in your gut extract and utilise the nutrients in your diet - that's their job - but if those nutrients are missing then your brain suffers too. All of the symptoms listed (and many more) are a sign your gut needs help.
Through life the bacteria in our gut diminish if we don't stay on top of keeping up a healthy environment. There are two things that our gut needs in order to flourish: a variety of good bacteria, and food that they eat. I call them 'gut bunnies' with my clients, and what would you feed a bunny rabbit? Veg, a lot of it!
In a world of convenience food, we kill off our good bacteria without realising it and so symptoms can abound. Once you know why you've got to eat a lot of veg, fresh food and fibre and how that combats so many symptoms, it becomes an empowering way to eat. When you have an abundance of symptoms it likely indicates that your gut needs help; your bacteria are in trouble.
We help the gut repopulate and flourish by introducing a probiotic (the good bacteria) and the greater the variety, the better your gut will be. I realise now a couple of years on from taking a probiotic daily that I've most likely had impaired gut health all my life. I'm pleased to say that body odour vanished very quickly, and has never come back (when it was a lifelong inconvenience) and bleeding gums stopped.
It's been interesting how improved my oral health has become in the last 2 years, noted by my hygienist too; I don't create plaque on my teeth anymore. For a couple of years into the perimenopause, my gums inflamed on a weekly basis, and it was only in hindsight that I could link it to the gut parasite, and the improvement to the microbz women (previously Bio-Live Women) which is specifically designed with herbs and minerals to support women through the perimenopause, this is one in a range of microbz probiotics for health.
Andrea Marsh is a Shiatsu and Chinese Medicine Practitioner in Gloucestershire who specialises in helping women alleviate their menopause symptoms practically and successfully. Gut health is a topic covered in her new book Understanding Your Menopause - Tried and tested practical, natural solutions to alleviate your symptoms effectively. Available now from Cotswold Menopause.