Menopause and the Microbiome
The age-old adage ‘you are what you eat’ has never been more significant as our Western diet is killing us from inside out. The more crap we consume, the crappier we feel. The crappier we feel the more processed, sugary, refined food we drown our sorrows in! But not only this, the worse we feel, the more likely we are to head to the GP for pills and potions to make us feel better, and these could just be adding to the load our gut has to deal with. Now let’s add the menopause into the mix! Your menopause and the microbiome are very much linked; declining oestrogen levels cause us to feel more stressed and even more crap in general, which further adds to the load the gut has to deal with.
Whether it’s killing good bacteria (as well as bad) with antibiotics or filling the body with chemicals that just mask symptoms but don’t deal with causes; this dark, dingy place inside us has been severely misunderstood and mistreated!
Good Bacteria, Antibiotics and the Microbiome
Good bacteria are vital to support a healthy life, but it’s even possible you were born deficient of a thriving microbiome if your mum took antibiotics whilst you were in the womb! Antibiotics are there to kill bacteria, unfortunately, they don’t differentiate between good and bad. Repopulating your gut with good bacteria is essential if you have EVER been exposed to antibiotics (this is also a big factor in modern farming, with antibiotics found in meat – too much of a HUGE subject to cover here!!).
Hormones and the Gut Microbiome
Hormones are produced by a network of glands around the body as part of the endocrine system. There is emerging research that the gut, whilst not a gland, still acts like an organ of the endocrine system and hugely affects how hormones behave in the body. The gut plays a pivotal role in how we are affected by the symptoms of menopause that make our lives a misery.
- Hot Flushes
- Night sweats
- Low energy
- Mood Swings – to name but a few menopause symptoms!!
Looking after and boosting the good bacteria in your microbiome will significantly improve your menopause symptoms as well as your overall health.
So how do we improve our Gut Health and the Bacteria in our Microbiome?
Clearly, the food we deliver into the gut, will have the biggest impact on it’s health! The bacteria we introduce down there and then the food we give that bacteria to thrive on, will dictate what bacteria settles in for the long term!! If we do not feed the good bacteria on what they like, the bad bacteria proliferate. And when the bad bacteria proliferate, that means at best low energy, weight gain, brain fog, IBS, intolerances and stomach ulcers, at worst a huge range of autoimmune disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma, eczema, and cancer. I am no scientist and do not intend to explain all the details her (it‘s a HUGE subject!), but I can recommend 3 great books that have changed the way I eat forever.
‘The Brain Maker’ by D Perlmutter and
‘The Gut Makeover’ by Jeanette Hyde
‘The Clever Guts Diet’ by Dr Michael Mosley
The science behind this is now so overwhelming, that more and more people are writing books on it, so feel free to explore!
What’s the best diet for a healthy microbiome?
Helping your good bacteria to proliferate, is all about taking away/reducing the food that bad bacteria thrive on – for example sugar, dairy, wheat, alcohol, caffeine, processed food and introducing the food that both contains good bacteria and feeds it! Fermented and live foods (Kefir, kombucha, kimchi, yoghurts, some cheeses, etc) and a huge variety of fruit and veg. I’m not saying you have to necessarily give up your ‘treats’ for life – but maybe you need to give your gut chance to rest and re-populate, with the good guys? When the good guys finally outweigh the bad ones (oh and talking about weight, our body is about 50/50 bacteria and gut bacteria alone can weigh 3-5llbs), we start to see some amazing changes.
The Gut – Brain Connection
We now also know that there are over 100 million neurons in the gut – these are the cells you find in the brain – spread out in a thin mesh from throat to rectum. Which means that we effectively have a ‘second brain’ in our gut, so when we talk about having a ‘gut feeling’ about something – its very true! How we feel emotionally, mentally and physically, is profoundly affected by the health of our microbiome. The gut is in direct communication with the brain via the nervous system and in particularly the Vagus nerve sending and receiving information in both directions; so when our gut microbiome is not functioning optimally, neither is the rest of our body.
Do I need to do a Gut Reset?
Is it time to stop the bad guys in their tracks and bring in a new army of good guys? Just like parts of the Rainforest are being replanted, you too can regenerate the over 1000 different species – that’s 50 trillion diverse creatures inside of you that never see the light of day!
Having followed a 4 week Gut Reset myself by eliminating wheat, caffeine, dairy, sugar and alcohol, I can totally testify to the totally life changing benefits I felt. As I now take my clients through a similar journey during my ‘Frazzled 2 Fabulous’ 10 week gut and health reset course, their results further add proof that the gut really is the biggest missing piece in so many health programmes, especially for those experiencing peri-menopause symptoms.
So, if you are feeling tired, low in energy, hot flushy, night sweaty, achy, grumpy, brain foggy, bloated or are even suffering an autoimmune disease, then YES – I do believe you need to do a Gut Reset.
It’s simple, but not necessarily easy to reset your microbiome!
I’ll be honest, whilst the reset was amazing, it certainly wasn’t easy to do by myself, it wasn’t until I recruited a few friends to join me, that we managed to go through it supporting each other and holding each other accountable. You could buy one of the books I recommend above and crack on yourself or find out more about the next Frazzled 2 Fabulous programme and let me guide you through the re-planting process! (oh, as well as balancing out your hormones, losing weight (most clients lose around a stone on the course) increasing your mobility & strength, and helping with your mindset). This online course runs every January, April and September.
If you’re not ready to jump into a 10 week programme, you are welcome to join my FB group to stay up to date with all things Menopause, Nutrition and Middle -Aged Women stuff!!
Yours in health and happy tummy’s