Q: My teenage daughter has mood swings with tearfulness and irritability, as well as bloating and breast tenderness before her period. Could it be premenstrual syndrome? Our GP is dismissive.
A: Those symptoms are common to premenstrual syndrome (PMS). In fact, more than 150 psychological, behavioural and physical symptoms have been identified, according to the National Association for Premenstrual Syndrome (NAPS ). The most usual are listed in the box below.
No one will experience every symptom, which may vary from cycle to cycle. Although the exact cause has still to be identified, experts agree the key factor is the rollercoaster of hormones during the monthly cycle. Read More…
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a very common debilitating gastrointestinal disorder that affects people in different ways. It is estimated that between 8% and 20% of the adult population are affected, mainly women between the ages of 30 and 60 years, and typical symptoms include chronic abdominal pain, bloating, and varying bouts of constipation and diarrhoea.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome is termed a ‘functional disorder’. A functional disorder is a medical condition that impairs the normal function of the body where every part of the body looks completely normal under examination. We do not fully understand IBS since it is a very complex condition, but sufferers can exhibit a combination of different symptoms and signs such as abdominal bloating, constipation (IBS-C), diarrhoea (IBS-D) or alternating between both (IBS-A). Read More…
My 50-year-old friend has intractable weight gain, particularly round her tummy. I’m 45 and have good and bad tummy days, which can vary from flat to fat in a day. Exercise isn’t shifting it at the moment. Is it the same cause?
‘These are different but both common problems,’ says women’s health expert Dr Marilyn Glenville, author of Fat Around the Middle* (marilynglenville.com). ‘Leading up to menopause, extra pounds often settle around the middle because your body tries to compensate for declining oestrogen. Some oestrogen is manufactured in the fat cells there, which offsets some of the loss from the ovaries.’ Read More…
Q: Although I am quite slim overall, I often have a bloated, fat-looking tummy, which isn’t great for the bikini season. Can you suggest anything?
A: Intermittent bloating of the abdomen is often due to consuming particular foods or drinks, which cause gassy distension, and also to lack of ‘good’ gut bacteria and digestive enzymes.
If you are prey to bloating, take a digestive enzyme supplement. They play a key role in breaking down food, according to pharmacist Shabir Daya, and are vital for absorbing nutrients. Try Extrazyme 13, one capsule just before or with a main meal, from Victoria Health.
Also consider probiotics. Many people (myself included) find a daily probiotic helpful. Try Mega Probiotic ND, £18.50 for 60 capsules, take two daily – also before and on holiday to help avert ‘holiday tummy’. Live natural yoghurt and probiotic drinks (eg, Actimel) also benefit some people.
Bloating is a very common and annoying concern; occasional bloating may be attributable to over-eating or consuming foods that do not agree with you. However, constant bloating could be associated with hormonal insufficiency, irritable bowel syndrome, food intolerances and high stress levels, to name just a few. At the centre of all of this is our digestive system:
How does your digestive system work?
Our bodies obtain nutrients from foods that are broken down efficiently by digestive enzymes, which are released as soon as we ingest food. The effects of improper digestion are widespread and include feeling lethargic, uncomfortable, a bulging stomach, bloating, rumbling or gas and wind.
It is often said that ‘you are what you eat’ and whilst this remains true to a certain extent, what is equally important is the state of your digestive system. Even if you were to eat a healthy, nutritious meal, if your digestive system is not functioning at its optimal level, then the body will not receive all the nutrients that it depends upon. Every single cell within the human body depends upon the supply of vital nutrients and an optimal digestive system depends upon the production of digestive enzymes. Read More…