How do the bugs that live in our intestines contribute to keeping us healthy in menopause?
The microbiome is having a moment – which is odd, given that it’s with us 24/7. So, when did gut health become such a hot topic? And why is it so important for women around the time of menopause?
Let’s start with the microbiome. What is it?
Put simply, it is the community of bacterial species that live inside our gut. Each bacteria plays an important role and contributes to various functions that impact our health and holistic wellbeing. A healthy gut is composed of a diversity of bacterial species.
Bad habits, such as junk food, a poor diet and excessive use of antibiotics, can disrupt the gut flora, putting it into a state of dysbiosis, or microbial imbalance. When this happens, the gut flora loses its ability to protect itself from pathogens and there is an increased risk of bad bacteria inducing a state of gut inflammation. This can lead to symptoms such as bloating, irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhoea or constipation.
If your gut health is good, you can expect better digestion, more effective absorption of nutrients, a boosted immune system and increased production of short-chain fatty acids (important for the metabolism of carbs and fats) and anti-inflammatory molecules (to reduce inflammatory response).
The gut-hormone effect
But what does all this have to do with women and the menopause? The answer lies in the endocrine system, which is the body’s network of hormone-producing glands. Studies suggest there are specific gut bacteria that produce hormones that are then released into our bloodstream and travel around the body. This means that our gut microbiome is taking on the role of command centre, sending hormones to exactly the right places. And in menopause it’s even more important that they get there.
A balanced gut microbiome positively impacts menopausal symptoms
When a woman is in the early stages of menopause, oestrogen production slows down. This can lead to symptoms such as breast tenderness, mood swings, hot flushes and insomnia. To help get these symptoms under control, you need a balanced gut microbiome. That’s because the microbiome is involved in the regulation of oestrogen: a group of bacteria called the estrobolome metabolise oestrogen in the body.
Biohack your way to a balanced gut
There are three simple principles involved in biohacking your way to a healthy gut microbiome:
1 Personalised nutrition
By personalised, we mean science-based nutrition that’s unique to your body and your gut microbiome. In order to understand which foods you should be eating and those you should cut back on, consider conducting a gut health test. With a simple Nylos stool-sample analysis, you can identify the composition and diversity of your gut bacteria, then pinpoint the wholefoods you should be eating to optimise your gut health.
Get into the habit of taking prebiotics and probiotics daily in the form of dietary supplements. These can top up the good bacteria in your gut and help you balance the microbiome.
3 Avoid antibiotics where possible
Antibiotics destroy the bacteria in your gut (good and bad). Of course, antibiotics can be crucial when we are ill, but if the issue is not serious, try to avoid them.
Wherever you are in your life, but particularly around perimenopause and menopause, a balanced and healthy gut microbiome should be a way of life rather than a quick fix. We should be nurturing our bodies to prevent illness and disease – and the best way to do that is through the foods we eat.
The Nylos gut microbiome analysis kit is available HERE