Menopause can bring on a range of physical and mental side effects. From sleep troubles to weight gain, hot flushes to migraines, the menopause can be fraught with unwanted health issues.
But a lesser-known problem which can occur during menopause is an increase in food sensitivities. Foods which previously caused no issues can start to trigger digestive discomfort and other problems, such as itchy skin, rhinitis, and hives.
Why is this the case? Can food intolerances in menopause be avoided and, if not, how can you manage the symptoms?
Why are you more likely to have food intolerances during menopause?
If you start to experience symptoms of food intolerance during menopause, it’s likely that these foods may have always caused mild issues but, due to the changes taking place in your body, you are now noticing those symptoms more acutely.
This can be due to:
- Higher stress levels as a result of the changes associated with the menopause
- Changing hormone levels slowing the transition of food through your digestive tract.
- Stress to the liver as a result of a slower food transit time
- Lower oestrogen levels affecting your stomach acid
- Oestrogen levels impacting your immune system
Are there some foods more likely to trigger food intolerances?
Food intolerances are unique to the individual. Foods which trigger problems for one person can be fine for another and any food can potentially trigger a reaction.
This being said, there are certain foods which can more commonly cause problems. These include:
- Additives, preservatives, food colours and dyes
- Artificial sweetener
- Fish and shellfish
- Soya products
- Wheat, grains, and gluten
- Yeast, yeast extract and Brewer’s Yeast
How can you manage your food intolerances?
If you start to notice food intolerances during menopause it can be particularly frustrating as you’re likely dealing with plenty of other unwanted side effects. While food intolerance symptoms can be uncomfortable, there are things you can do to help ease the symptoms and reduce the impact of your trigger foods, as well as improving your general wellbeing during the menopause and beyond.
Here are a few steps you can try:
Identify your triggersThe first step in improving the symptoms of food intolerances is to find out your own particular triggers.
Traditionally, this would involve an elimination diet, where you remove one food at a time for a period of weeks, noting any changes in how you feel. While this method can be effective, it does take a while and can also miss the fact that it’s possible to be intolerant to more than one ingredient.
Food intolerance testing can help you get to the bottom of your food sensitivities faster if you don’t want to spend a long time removing individual foods and waiting for the results of those changes.
Give your gut a boost
Food intolerances can put stress on the whole digestive system, which is why it’s important to try and help your gut out as much as possible by encouraging the growth of good bacteria.
Pre and probiotics are a great way to give your gut a boost. You can get these through natural foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, miso soup, tempeh, and kefir, which all help introduce good bacteria.
Love your liver
Your liver does a vital job removing toxins from your body. When it’s not working well, you’re more likely to struggle with food sensitivities.
Avoid putting stress on your liver by reducing or cutting out alcohol from your diet, drinking plenty of water and eating a nutritious, balanced diet.
Exercise is an important cornerstone of good health at any age, but especially during menopause. Staying active helps keep the digestive system moving, speeding up food’s transition through the gut and stopping waste products building up.
Getting your blood flowing is also great for improving mood and reducing stress, regulating hormones, and helping you to sleep better – all important for a happy gut.
Managing your stress levels
It’s often said that the gut is like a second brain. When you’re stressed, you often feel the effects of your mood in your digestive system manifesting in bloating, constipation, and diarrhoea
Gentle, relaxing forms of exercise such as yoga or walking can be a great way to manage stress, help regulate breathing and calm you down.
Take control of your diet
If you are suffering with the symptoms of a food intolerance and have spoken with your GP to rule out any other serious underlying condition, it might be time to take a closer look at your diet.
While traditional elimination diets can help you identify trigger foods, it’s a long process with a lot of trial and error which doesn’t always manage to catch all the foods causing your problems. This is where food intolerance testing can help.
Get answers faster with Smartblood
When it comes to food intolerance testing, it’s important to do your research and choose a reputable laboratory testing company.
At Smartblood, we offer a comprehensive test to help you take control of your diet quickly and discover your own trigger foods.
Our home-to-laboratory service gives you fast, accurate results that pinpoint exactly which foods you are reacting to. Tests are completed in our accredited laboratory by trained experts, with clear, easy to understand results sent to you via email within three days.
Dedicated nutritional support
Importantly, our tests include a telephone consultation with our BANT registered Nutritional Therapist. This additional support is there to help you understand your results and put a plan together to make safe, sustainable changes to optimise your diet, particularly during menopause, to make sure you don’t miss out on any important nutrients.