Hormones and Digestion

Menopause and peri-menopause can be an extremely challenging time in a woman’s life,
complete with unpleasant side effects such as digestive disruption. Women are more likely
than men to develop digestive problems. Digestive problems, in women prior to menopause
can come in an array of forms.  Because the digestive system is a complex function of the
body, issues can arise anywhere along the trip that food takes, from consumption to
expulsion.

Symptoms of Digestive Problems

There are different symptoms of digestive problems that can indicate different causes.
Below are some of the common symptoms of digestive problems:

• Cramps
• Bloating
• Gas
• Constipation
• Diarrhea
• Food Intolerences
•Acid reflux
•Bad bacteria
•Flatulence
•Cramps
•Energy decrease
•Fatigue
•Food allergies
•Headaches
Heartburn
•Inflammation
•Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
•Lowered immune response
•Nausea
•Ulcers


How the Digestive System Works

Digestion of food begins in the mouth .Saliva
contains the digestive enzyme amylase, which
begins breaking down starchy foods as soon as
they enter the mouth.

The stomach mechanically mixes food. It also
releases substances that chemically break down
food, such as hydrochloric acid. Hydrochloric
acid, often called stomach acid, plays a key role
in the stomach. HCL helps digest proteins, fat,
vitamins, and minerals, maintains the acidity of
the stomach, and helps kill bacteria, viruses,
prevents candida and parasites. Without an
adequate amount of HCL, the digestion of
protein, carbohydrates, and fat cannot be
properly completed.

Enzymes from the pancreas and small intestine
are released into the small intestine to digest
and absorb carbohydrates, fat, and protein.

In addition, bile salts secreted from the
gallbladder help with the digestion and
absorption of fats and the fat soluble nutrients
vitamin A, D, E, and K.

The small intestine is the primary organ
involved in the absorption of nutrients.
Anything that interferes with the secretion of
enzymes or bile salts, or disrupts the absorptive
walls of the small intestine, such as
inflammatory bowel syndrome, chronic antacid
use, chronic diarrhea, pancreatic insufficiency,
or celiac disease, may result in vitamin
deficiencies and fat malabsorption.

Digestion is the way our body turns food in to fuel to support the body's
various functions.


Causes of Digestive Problems

Although there are many potential causes of digestive problems, many have a lot to do with
hormonal imbalance. As a woman´s body prepares for menopause, production of her
hormones, particularly estrogen and progesterone, begin to decrease. The hormones
regulate many different functions of the body, and when their levels are altered prior to
menopause, she may experience some or all of the menopause symptoms, including
digestive problems.

Hormonal Causes of Digestive Problems

Cortisol is a "stress hormone" produced by the adrenaline gland involved in stress
responses. It is known to impede digestion and create digestive problems, among other  
reactions, such as anxiety and panic disorders. As a result of unbalanced hormones during
menopause there is a high level of cortisol in a woman´s body.

Estrogen has an inhibitive affect on the stress-hormone cortisol. When estrogen is too low,
levels of cortisol rise, raising blood pressure and blood sugar, and slowing down the release
of stomach acid and the emptying of the stomach into the small intestine. This can create
some of the symptoms of digestive problems such as gas, bloating and constipation.

Treatments for Digestive Problems

When exploring treatments for digestive problems, it´s important to begin with methods
that are the least obtrusive, with the least likelihood of side effects, and progress from
there. We have many methods of testing to find the cause of your digestive problems.

Typically, combining lifestyle changes and alternative methods will produce the best
outcome. Alternative treatments include different herbs and supplements that help to
regulate the digestive system and regain hormonal imbalance.
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