Hot flushes, night sweats and fatigue are all common menopause symptoms. However, most Menopausal women don’t talk about how the Menopause impacts their digestive system.
Many of us tend to ignore our bodies and not pay attention to what’s going on in our stomachs when we’re feeling unwell. You may wonder, does menopause affect your gut health and if so what can you do about it?
Menopause affects your gut health. Imbalances in gut bacteria can worsen a wide range of seemingly unrelated menopause symptoms such as brain fog and weight gain. Digestive problems can also lead to bloating and stomach pain. If you improve your gut health you may improve your menopause symptoms.
If you’re like most people, you probably think of your gut as just another organ in your body. But it actually plays an important role in helping you sail through menopause smoothly [or not].
If you understand how menopause affects your gut health you will know what you can do to improve your overall well being.
You’ll want to read on so you don’t miss out on any great tips for improving your perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms by paying attention to your gut health.
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Does menopause affect your gut health?
Some studies are showing that women who suffer from menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats may experience changes in the composition of their gut bacteria.
This change could be due to hormonal fluctuations during perimenopause and menopause. Gut bacteria balance can affect your oestrogen and progesterone levels and therefore your menopause symptoms.
These studies show that there is an increase of the bacteria, Firmicutes over time, which has been linked with obesity and diabetes.
They also show that there is a decrease in Bacteroidetes, the bacteria which are associated with better digestion and healthy bowel function.
This means that if you feel bloated or constipated during menopause or have acid reflux, it might be because of these shifts in the balance of good and bad microbes in your gut.
The good news is that there are ways to correct this which we will cover later in this post.
Menopause Symptoms That May Be Linked To A Change In Gut Flora
During the perimenopausal years, when estrogen levels begin declining due to low progesterone production by the ovaries, these changes impact both the gut microbiota and the genitourinary tract, including the organs of both the female reproductive and urinary tracts.
When there isn’t enough estrogen, tissues lining the vagina and urethra may be dry, thin and/or inflamed.
Lowered levels of beneficial bacteria and higher vaginal PH can combine to create common menopausal issues including…
- urinary tract infections and problems
- vaginal dryness which can lead to problems during sex.
A change in the balance of gut bacteria can also have an impact on other menopausal symptoms.
Here are some of the most common symptoms of menopause that could be linked to a change in gut bacteria:
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- Weight gain
- Hot Flashes
- Mood swings
- Dry skin
- Increased anxiety
- Memory problems
- Loss of concentration
So, if you experience one or more of these symptoms, then you should consider looking into the possibility that they are related to a change in your gut flora.
So what do you need to know about when it comes to understanding how to improve these symptoms?
One word… The Estrobolome!
What is the Estrobolome?
It may have an intimidating name, but understanding your Estrobolome is incredibly important when it comes to getting control of your menopause symptoms.
The Estrobolome is a name for the bacteria and fungi in the gut which influence the levels of Estrogen in your system.
There are actually around 60 different types of bacteria and fungi and getting the right balance is key to managing your menopause symptoms.
Your gut microbiome plays a role in regulating hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone [which is a hormone that women need].
It’s thought that this is why women who suffer from perimenopausal or postmenopausal hot flashes tend to experience more severe symptoms if they’ve been diagnosed with endometriosis.
The good news is that there is actually a lot you can do to influence the balance of the Estobolome.
Positive changes can have a big influence on your menopause symptoms. It’s a simple way that you can improve your menopause and perimenopause symptoms for the better.
How to increase the levels of beneficial bacteria and fungi in your Estrobolome
The human body has trillions of microorganisms living inside our bodies. These microbes help us digest food, produce vitamins, and fight off infections. However, some of these microbes cause disease when they grow out of control.
One way to keep your gut and Estrobolome in a healthy balance is to eat fermented foods like…
- and pickles.
A study published in the journal Nature found that people who regularly ate probiotic-rich foods had fewer allergies than those who didn’t. Other studies suggest that taking probiotics may reduce symptoms of eczema, asthma, and hay fever.
You can easily buy fermented or probiotic-rich foods in the supermarket. Just make sure that they contain live bacteria on the label.
You can also easily make your own fermented probiotic foods at home.
Are probiotics good for menopause?
Probiotics are great for women who are going through menopause. They help balance hormones, reduce hot flashes, and prevent other symptoms associated with menopause.
They are one of the easiest things that you can do to improve your menopause symptoms, hormone levels and thus your overall health.
Probiotics also help promote weight loss, boost energy levels, and even lower cholesterol.
Here are some of the best probiotic supplements that can help with your symptoms:
Bifidobacterium longum BB536
This is a strain of Bifidobacteria that helps maintain normal bowel function and reduces gas.
It’s often used in combination with Lactobacillus acidophilus LA-5.
Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG
This is a strain that works well for treating diarrhoea and constipation.
This probiotic includes a wide range of different probiotics as well as Rhamnosus
Bifidobacteria breve BR03
This is another type of Bifidobacterium that supports digestion and improves immune function.
Lactobacillus reuteri RC-14
This is a strain known for its ability to treat diarrhoea and support digestive health.
Lactobacillus plantarum 299v
This is a strain commonly used to treat vaginal infections.
You can easily buy probiotics in health food stores or online. Make sure you buy a good quality supplement.
Prebiotics and Menopause Symptoms.
PREbiotics [notice the different spelling] are non-digestible fibres that feed the friendly bacteria in your digestive tract. Think of it as nourishing food for your friendly gut bacteria.
They’re often found in fruits and vegetables. Prebiotics can enhance the growth of certain strains of bacteria in your intestines.
Prebiotics can also help prevent diarrhoea by reducing the number of toxins produced by harmful bacteria in your colon.
This means that prebiotics can help reduce bloating, gas, constipation, and other common menopause symptoms.
If you want to get started with improving your gut health, then try adding prebiotics to your diet. You’ll find them in many foods including:
- chia seeds,
- seaweed and kelp,
- sweet potatoes,
- and yoghurt.
You can also take supplements containing prebiotics. Look for products labelled “PREbiotic” on the label.
Inulin is a flavourless pre-biotic powder which you can sprinkle on food or add to drinks. Its an easy way of ensuring you get probiotics into your system to nourish your gut flora.
How Can You Improve Your Gut Health Naturally during Menopause?
There are many ways you can improve your gut health and your Menopause symptoms.
Here are several ways that you can start to make improvements.
Eat healthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables, lean protein, nuts, seeds, and fish.
- Avoid processed foods, sugar, and refined carbohydrates.
- Eat plenty of fibre – Fibre is important for keeping your gut healthy. The recommended daily intake for adults is 25 grams.
- Drink lots of water – Water flushes toxins from your colon and helps remove waste products. Aim to drink about 2 litres each day.
- Avoid alcohol – Alcohol disrupts the beneficial bacteria in your gut. If you must drink alcohol, limit yourself to one glass of wine at a time.
- Get enough sleep – Lack of sleep makes it harder to absorb nutrients. Try to get 7 hours of sleep every night.
- Lower Stress – High levels of stress can have a devastating impact on your gut health. It can ramp up your stress hormone or cortisol levels, which have a cascading impact on your overall and digestive health. You need to take steps in your life to get your stress down to a manageable level.
- Take probiotics – Probiotics can be taken orally or by using a supplement. Take probiotics twice a day for optimal results.
- Use prebiotics – Prebiotics are carbohydrates that feed the probiotic gut bacteria and give it an optimum habitat. They’re usually found in fibre-rich foods such as oats, beans, bananas, apples, pears, cauliflower, garlic, onions, leeks, and artichokes.
Does menopause cause gas and bloating?
Menopause causes gas and bloating because estrogen levels drop during perimenopause and menopause. Estrogen helps regulate digestion and absorption of nutrients. When estrogen levels fall, digestive juices decrease and food moves through the system faster. This can lead to increased gas production which can be embarrassing and painful.
The good news is that there are natural remedies for both gas and bloating.
Gas and bloating caused by menopause can be treated naturally by healing your digestive tract.
How to reduce menopausal bloating
Bloating is caused by a build-up of gas in the intestines. It can be an incredibly frustrating symptom of menopause. Bloating, constipation and abdominal pain can be difficult to deal with in everyday life.
You may even find that you suddenly start to have the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome around midlife for the first time.
If you want to improve your symptoms, your goal is to improve the balance of your intestinal flora.
Following some of the information above will help. Once your estrobolome and gut bacteria are in balance the gas should reduce and the bloating improve.
You may want to keep a food diary to work out which foods affect you the most. The culprits will be different for everyone. Once you know which foods are the worst for you, you can remove them for a little while to let your intestines heal.
As a quick fix, to prevent bloating, try drinking plenty of water throughout the day, eat smaller meals, and avoid foods that cause gas such as beans if they affect you.
Coffee may also be an irritant that you could try cutting out for a while.
Introduce fermented foods such as yoghurt and kefir into your diet every day and you should find your intestines starting to heal and your digestive symptoms and bloating reduced.
You could also try taking digestive enzymes. These supplements can support your natural digestive processes and reduce digestive issues.
zuENZYMES Digestive Enzymes
A digestive enzyme formula contains enzymes that help you digest lactose, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats while allowing your gut to get improved access to the vitamins and minerals contained in food. Take one a day to improve your digestion.
Gut Microbiome Testing
If you have tried natural remedies to no avail, it may be time to do a gut microbiome test. Test kits are readily available. Although they are a little pricey, they will tell you a lot about what is happening in your digestive tract.
Once you discover the reason behind your digestive issues, you can begin to heal yourself.
Biomesight Gut Microbiome Test
This test will analyse your individual microbiome and then give you recommendations based on your results.
They offer natural recommendations covering food, supplements and lifestyle adjustments in order to improve your health.
What to drink (and what to avoid) during Menopause and Perimenopause
What you drink has a profound effect on your gut health.
Probiotic drinks such as milk kefir are delicious and contain a multitude of good bacteria which will soothe and improve your gut health.
Herbal Teas, such as peppermint tea are perfect for sipping thought the day. You can make your own delicious version simply by pouring boiling water over torn up fresh mint leaves. A thin slice of ginger and even a teaspoon of honey make this a delicious drink for everyday use.
Apple Cider vinegar is a wonderful live probiotic and is delicious in sparkling water. Amazingly, Apple Cider Vinegar has been scientifically proven to help with weight loss. You can read the research here.
I wrote a post about the magical properties of Apple Cider Vinegar to help with weight loss which you can read here. It’s something that you should always have in your kitchen cupboard.
It goes without saying that overdoing alcohol is something that you want to avoid if you want to improve your Menopause symptoms.
However, the stress of midlife often means that we start to rely on a glass of wine as a stress reliever at the end of the day. I wrote a post about how to cut down on alcohol to relieve your menopause symptoms which you can read below.
What herbs help increase gut health?
Herbs like garlic, ginger, turmeric, oregano, and peppermint help boost your immune system and keep your digestive tract healthy. Garlic helps fight off bad bacteria, while ginger boosts your metabolism and improves digestion.
Turmeric is great for relieving inflammation, and oregano has anti-inflammatory properties.
Peppermint contains menthol which stimulates the mucous membranes in your stomach and intestines, helping them function properly.
Incorporating these herbs into your everyday foods can help your gut to heal.
In conclusion, Does menopause affect your gut health?
The answer is yes! Menopause has a huge effect on your gut health.
However, the truth is that your gut health also has a massive effect on your menopause symptoms. It’s a cyclical system.
Thankfully, as we have seen, there are many things that you can do to improve your gut health and therefore your menopause symptoms.
I hope that if you implement some of the changes outlined above that you will be able to improve your gut health and improve your symptoms too.
A healthy gut will help you to have a healthy menopause.
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The plan follows the principles of gut health laid out above in a way that will help you lose the stubborn menopause belly fat.
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