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What exactly is gut health? Why does it worsen during the menopause? And what is the relationship between gut health and probiotics?
When you go through menopause, your body basically stops producing the same quantities of the reproductive hormones estrogen and progesterone. The levels of estrogen and progesterone in your body, in turn, affect hormone receptors in your gut and alter the microbiome of your gut. A less happy and healthy microbiome means a less efficient gut. This matters for a number of reasons.
If you’re struggling with common menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, low mood, insomnia, or weight gain, this could be due to a less than healthy gut microbiome. Furthermore, an unhealthy microbiome can affect your serotonin levels. Serotonin is ‘the happiness hormone’ which is responsible for mood regulation and is produced in the gut. This is why the gut is sometimes referred to as ‘the second brain’.
Read on for ways to improve gut health and microbiome as you go through, and move beyond, menopause.
Probiotics work to encourage a better balance of ‘good’ bacteria vs. ‘bad’ bacteria in your gut. This good bacteria is needed by your body for effective nutrient absorption from the foods you eat, whilst simultaneously helping to protect you from germs and harmful microorganisms. The good bacteria can be likened to a personal security guard for your gut: they let the good guys in whilst keeping the bad guys very much out.
Good bacteria is needed by your body in order to absorb and assimilate nutrients and to keep your hormones balanced, and being in possession of a flourishing gut microbiome will help to protect you from germs and harmful microorganisms, thereby boosting your resilience to illness and your immune system as a whole.
Studies have shown that increasing the amount of probiotic-rich foods in your diet could improve your immune response in a matter of weeks. People also reported improved mood and greater satisfaction with the appearance of their skin and hair after upping their intake of fermented foods.
Adhering to a whole food, plant-based and anti-inflammatory diet can do more to improve your overall health than any over the counter or prescription drug ever has.
Try adding more of the following fermented foods into your daily food routine to increase the number of healthy bacteria living in your gut.:
Probiotics and prebiotics work in unison to encourage the good bacteria to flourish and keep your defences strong over time.
Prebiotics are specialised plant fibres that are needed to nourish the good bacteria once it’s been established. Therefore, both probiotics and prebiotics are important for your gut health to thrive.
Good sources of prebiotic fibre are:
High-sugar diets can result in inflammation and an imbalance in gut bacteria. Furthermore, higher consumption of sugar has been shown to speed up the skin’s natural ageing process, as well to negatively impact mood and increase instances of anxiety. Likewise, sweeteners, particularly those containing aspartame, have been linked to poor gut health. These artificial sweeteners might actually be worse for your gut and for your overall health than straight-up sugar; studies have shown that the effect of sweeteners on the microbiome could lead to a risk of developing diabetes that far exceeds the risk associated with sugar. Put the Splenda down!
When it comes to sweetened beverages, try swapping out your usual sugar or sweetener for a good quality, high-grade honey. Honey has been recognised as potentially containing prebiotic compounds and has been shown to deplete probiotic presence in the gut at a significantly slower rate than other sugars.
Applesauce is a great option for replacing sugar or sweetener in baking and has the added benefit of being a prebiotic itself.
Gut health is at the very core of our overall wellbeing. Without good gut health, the rest of our health - mental, physical and emotional - will surely suffer. And this could not be more relevant or true than for women who are in the midst of perimenopause, or of menopause itself.
Ageing is perceived as an inevitable downward spiral to poor health, but this does not need to be the case. By taking the necessary steps and precautions your health can flourish as you grow older. LYMA contains three of the most vital patented ingredients to support you as you age and our formula has been credited for helping older people to reclaim their health and wellbeing, leaving them feeling better than they ever thought possible.