8 Tummy Taming Tips Women Over 40 Need to Know By Dr. Steve Sisskind, Chief Medical Officer, RealDose Nutrition
Have you ever experienced any of these scenarios?
• It's just past lunchtime, you are in a meeting, and you begin to feel that all too familiar burning in your chest. Because of the extreme discomfort, you struggle to even focus on what is being said. Heartburn is back - again.
• Company is expected to arrive anytime for a dinner gathering in your home. You have a very uncomfortable, and quite frankly, embarrassing gas buildup that you are concerned will make itself known right in the middle of dinner.
• Five days into your dream vacation and it is becoming more and more difficult to enjoy yourself because of your constipation. Frustration mounts as you think about how your digestive system seems overly sensitive to any change.
If you are a woman over 40, you more than likely have had to deal with digestive distress in the form of bloating, gas, heartburn, constipation, and/or diarrhea.
Did you know that as a result of some anatomical differences in the digestive tract, women will experience more stomach distress than men? In addition, thanks to perimenopausal hormones, 40% of women over 40 will have recurring stomach issues.
This is not great news.
However, there are ways to manage and even minimize those responses that your body has. Take a look at these 8 tips to tame your tummy. Some of the tips will help to relieve discomfort when it comes on, and a few are great for preventative measures.
Stomach distress never comes at a convenient time but these tips will prepare you for when it does.
In Need of Relief
1) Chamomile Tea
You may associate chamomile with its ability to help in sleeping, thanks to the popular “Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Tea,” that you probably grew up with. The benefits of this daisy-like flower go beyond just a sleep aid though. “It is one of the most ancient medicinal herbs known to mankind,” and is still used to treat a myriad of issues.1
It’s anti-inflammatory properties, should make it your “go-to” for relieving these symptoms:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
In addition, Chamomile is used to help:
- With anxiety and stress (by increasing serotonin and melatonin levels)
- Manage diabetes because it helps lower blood sugar and regulate insulin levels
- Help those struggling with sleep apnea
Bonus tip: The peppermint leaf has similar soothing properties as chamomile. A tea combining both of these herbs is delicious and an effective treatment for your symptoms.
(As with any herb, it is not recommended for pregnant women and you should always consult a doctor if you are on other medications.)
Women over 40 often associate “heat” with hot flashes, which more than likely has a negative connotation. However, applying direct heat to the abdomen when experiencing stomach pain, gas pain, or menstrual cramps, might be the answer you are looking for.
Research done at the University College London found that applying heat (of around 104 degrees Fahrenheit) via a hot-water bottle, caused the heat receptors in the skin to switch on. These, in turn, block the effect of chemical messengers that cause pain to be detected.2 The result is a temporary relief from pain.
Heat wraps that can be purchased from a pharmacy stay warm for up to 8 hours. This is a great solution if you have to remain active but still need relief from IBS type symptoms.
Applying heat is quick, easy, and accessible, which becomes the “name of the game” when you are in the midst of discomfort and pain.
An epic battle between good and evil takes place in your gut daily. At stake, is the healthy balance that is achieved when the good bacteria “trumps” the bad bacteria.
As a result of stress, antibiotics, parasites, poor food choices etc., the bad bacteria can begin to tip the scales in that balance and your overall health is affected negatively.
Kefir is a fermented milk product that tastes similar to yogurt but has a consistency of a smoothie. It is made with a milk base (animal, soy or coconut) that is added to kefir grains and allowed to ferment.
Kefir grains generally contain specific and stable bacteria.3 As a result, the microorganisms that are created in the fermenting process, make this drink a potent source of probiotics.
Drinking kefir regularly is like sending in the “reinforcements” your gut needs. These specific probiotics will help fight constipation and diarrhea that is often a side effect of taking antibiotics.
4) Flax Seeds
It would only take a few trips to a grocery store to realize that flax seeds are the trending superfood. They can be found in granola, cookies, cereal, salad toppers, and bread.
However, did you know that boiling flax seed creates a “flax mucilage” that is powerful in soothing an inflamed gut?
The mucilage has a slippery texture and looks similar to egg white.
In fact, it is downright slimy.
But don’t let that scare you. Drinking it helps to create a moisture-rich surface in the gut, assuring healthy intestinal flora and proper absorption of nutrients. In addition, it protects the gut from gastric acidity and helps to settle the inflamed nerve endings in the mucous membranes.
Consider drinking this routinely if your gut has been agitated for awhile.
A simple recipe to make flax mucilage is:
- Boil 2 cups of water and add 1-2 tablespoons of whole flax seeds
- Decrease heat to medium and boil uncovered until the water thickens and appears glossy - approximately 8 minutes.
- Set aside to cool and then store in a jar in the refrigerator
- Use within 10 days
Exercise is really the miracle cure we have all been waiting for.
What else can reduce the risk of some of the “biggies” - heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and cancer - by up to 50%? Not to mention, it directly impacts our sleep quality, energy levels, and self-esteem in positive ways.
What you may not know, is that regular exercise also influences your gut health. Remember the battle that takes place between the good and bad bacteria? Evidence from a study done a few years ago found that exercise plays an important role in that relationship.
Regular physical activity creates more diversity in the gut flora which translates to more stability for the whole system.
A loss of diversity in the gut flora is linked to several health issues, including gastrointestinal diseases; while increased diversity has been associated with health in the elderly.4
It is hard to ignore the major benefits that regular exercise can give. Finding immediate relief from disruptive symptoms, such as gas, bloating, and constipation can also be gained in the process of being active.
Adults should aim for 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week and 2 days of strength exercises a week. This is doable and looks like this:
- 30 minutes of aerobic activity 5 days a week
- 2 days where you add another 15 minutes of strength exercises
Isn’t that amount of effort worth all the health benefits?
6) Ginger Root
If you have ever had to deal with an ulcer, then you may be familiar with a troublesome bacteria known as H. pylori (Helicobacter Pylori.) This little guy is responsible for 90% of duodenal ulcers and 80% of gastric ulcers.5
In fact, two-thirds of the world’s population has this spiral-shaped bacterium that burrows into the lining of the stomach and creates a weakness that allows the stomach acid to irritate the lining.
A study done several years ago indicated that ginger root inhibits the growth of H. pylori.6 This was good news since the medication used to kill the H. pylori can be harsh for some guts. Its benefits do not stop there, however. Ginger root accelerates the emptying of the stomach, which makes it effective in helping with the many symptoms of dyspepsia (bloating, nausea, and burping).7
Here are a few ways to use ginger:
- Slices of ginger root can be boiled in green tea. If you allow it to boil for 30 minutes, the anti-inflammatory compounds are released.
- Grate it up and add to dishes. This even works in desserts as well.
- Juice it along with your carrots and apples to add a little spice.
7) Limit Alcohol
“To many, total abstinence is easier than perfect moderation.” (Saint Augustine)
Moderation (in regards to drinking) is a tricky thing and definitions vary depending on the person, culture, faith, and health.
Regardless of your idea of what moderate drinking looks like, it is important to know that alcohol is not digested like other foods. It is absorbed into the bloodstream.
Approximately 20% is absorbed while in the stomach and the other 80% is absorbed through the intestines.
Over time and with too much alcohol, cells in the stomach lining can be damaged so that they are not able to absorb vitamins and nutrients effectively. This interferes with normal digestion, and at minimum, can cause gassiness, bloating, diarrhea, and heartburn.8
This tip just requires an honest look at your present patterns and making the necessary adjustments. Despite what cultural norms may look like in regards to drinking, many people do have room for improvement. Striving for optimal health should always dictate our actions.
As science continues to advance we recognize that good bacteria has a “front and center” part to play in our health. Delicate balances exist between both good and bad bacteria throughout all of our body systems. However, the majority of bacteria “sets up camp” in the organs of our digestive system.
We are actually born with some natural probiotics (good bacteria), and that number grows as we grow. Unfortunately, due to medications, sugar, antibiotics from non-organic meats, and high carbohydrate foods, that number can dwindle and the delicate balance is affected.
Taking a high-quality probiotic can give your good bacteria a “bit of an edge” and fortify your body’s immune fighting capabilities. Here are some things to consider when choosing one:
- Look for a professional strength probiotic that has over 15 billion cultures and 10 or more strains.
- Read the label and look for these strains which are supportive of digestive functions. L. helveticus, L. Acidophilus, S. boulardii, B. longum, Bacillus subtilis.
- Be aware of the manufacturing process. The delicate probiotic strains should be produced in cool temperatures with low humidity, and then stored in a climate controlled warehouse.
The knowledgeable team at RealDose Nutrition took into account these and several other critical factors when creating a probiotic for their clients. RightBiotics Rx is the ideal solution to give your gut a protective barrier against bad bacteria and toxic substances.
Bringing About Healthy Change
Health information is not in short supply. Quite frankly it can be overwhelming to take the step beyond reading it and actually applying it. Focusing on one small change at a time sets you up for success.
Take a look at this list of tips and choose one or two that you could easily incorporate into your life. Once it becomes a part of your regular routine, pick another tip to focus on.
The effort you put forth has potential to “settle down” an irritated gut. More importantly, it sets your body up for better overall health, for the long haul.
(1) Srivastava, Janmejai and Shankar, Eswar and Gupta, Sanjay (2010). Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with a bright future. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2995283/
(2) University College London (2006). Heat Halts Pain Inside the Body. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/07/060705090603.htm
(3) Leite, Analy Machado de Oliveira and Miguel, Marco Antonio Lemos and Peixoto, Raquel Silva and Rosado, Alexander Soares and Silva, Joab Trajano and Paschoalin, Vania Margaret Flosi (2013) Microbiological, technological and therapeutic properties of kefir: a natural probiotic beverage. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3833126/
(4) Clarke, Siobhan F and Murphy, Eileen F and O’Sullivan, Orla (2014) Exercise and associated dietary extremes impact on gut microbial diversity. Retrieved from http://gut.bmj.com/content/63/12/1913
(5) Smart Publications. Eradicate H. pylori Infection and Protect Yourself from Ulcers Naturally. Retrieved from http://www.smart-publications.com/articles/eradicate-h-pylori-infection-and-protect-yourself-from-ulcers
(6) GB, Mahady and SL, Pendland and GS, Yun and ZZ, Lu and A, Stoia (2003) Ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) and the gingerols inhibit the growth of Cag A+ strains of Helicobacter pylori. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14666666
(7) Hu, Ming-Luen and Rayner, Christophan K. and Wu, Keng-Liang (2011) Effect of ginger on gastric motility and symptoms of functional dyspepsia. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3016669/
(8) National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (1993) Retrieved from https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa22.htm
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