Why is a Healthy Microbiome KEY to a Healthy Perimenopause?
During perimenopause, women undergo significant (understatement of the century) hormonal changes, including a decline in oestrogen levels (oof!). These hormonal changes can lead to a range of physical and psychological symptoms, including:
Ah perimenopause: joy of joys!
The microbiome is the collection of microorganisms living in our skin, mouth, gut, and reproductive tract, which are crucial in maintaining our overall health and well-being. The gut microbiome has been linked to various physiological functions, including the regulation of metabolism, immune system function, and brain health.
See where we’re going here?
Research suggests that changes in the gut microbiome during perimenopause may contribute to the development of several health issues.
For example, a decline in oestrogen levels can lead to changes in the gut microbiome, including a decrease in beneficial bacteria and an increase in harmful bacteria. These changes may contribute to the development of insulin resistance, inflammation, and other health issues commonly associated with perimenopause.
So as you can see, maintaining a healthy microbiome during perimenopause is crucial to support overall health and well-being.
Let's Get Under The Hood of the Microbiome: What Actually is it?
The human microbiome is the community of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microorganisms that live on and inside the human body.
These microorganisms are found in various parts of the body, including the skin, mouth, gut, and reproductive tract.
The human microbiome is incredibly diverse, with trillions of microorganisms, and plays an essential role in various bodily functions such as digestion, immune system function, and even mood regulation.
The microbiome is unique to you and can be influenced by factors such as diet, lifestyle, and environmental factors.
The microbiome in the colon, also known as the gut microbiome, is considered the most important microbiome in the body because it plays a crucial role in maintaining our overall health and well-being. The gut microbiome is made up of trillions of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microbes, that reside in our large intestines.
Here are some reasons why the gut microbiome is considered to be SO important:
Digestion and absorption of nutrients: The gut microbiome helps to break down food and extract nutrients from it, such as vitamins and minerals, that the body needs to function properly.
Immune system function: The gut microbiome helps to regulate the immune system by training it to recognise and respond appropriately to harmful pathogens, while also preventing it from attacking harmless substances.
Metabolic health: The gut microbiome is involved in regulating our metabolism, including the processing of fats and sugars in our diet, which can affect our risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other metabolic disorders.
Mental health: Research has shown that the gut microbiome can also influence our mood and behaviour.
- Disease prevention: A healthy gut microbiome can help to prevent a wide range of diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease, colorectal cancer, and autoimmune disorders, among others - phew!
Overall, the gut microbiome plays a critical role in maintaining our health, especially in perimenopause..
Why is a Healthy Microbiome in Perimenopause so Important?
Some potential perimenopause symptoms related to a microbiome during perimenopause include:
Vaginal dryness: As oestrogen levels decline during perimenopause, the vaginal microbiome can change, leading to decreased lubrication and increased susceptibility to infections.
Urinary tract infections (UTIs): Changes in the vaginal microbiome can also increase the risk of UTIs during perimenopause.
Digestive issues: Hormonal fluctuations during perimenopause can affect the gut microbiome, potentially leading to digestive issues such as food intolerance, bloating, gas, and constipation.
- Mood changes: The gut microbiome is known to influence mood and emotional well-being, and changes in the gut microbiome during perimenopause could contribute to mood swings and other emotional symptoms.
How to Build a Healthy Biome: Diet/Supplement Recommendations
Building a healthy microbiome during perimenopause is important as the changes in hormone levels can affect the composition and diversity of the gut microbiota. Here are some diet and supplement recommendations to help support a healthy microbiome during perimenopause:
Increase fibre intake: Fibre-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, can help promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria.
Eat prebiotic foods: Prebiotics are a type of fibre that feed the beneficial bacteria in the gut. Foods rich in prebiotics include garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, bananas, oats, and apples.
Consume fermented foods: Fermented foods, such as yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha, contain live bacteria that can help colonise the gut with beneficial microbes.
Consider probiotic supplements: Probiotics are live bacteria that can be taken as supplements to help improve the diversity and composition of the gut microbiome. Look for a high-quality probiotic supplement that contains a variety of strains.
- Limit processed foods: Processed foods, such as fast food, sugary snacks, and refined carbohydrates, can disrupt the balance of the gut microbiome and promote the growth of harmful bacteria.
Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water can help support a healthy gut microbiome by keeping the digestive system functioning properly.
- Manage stress: Chronic stress can negatively impact the gut microbiome. Find ways to manage stress, such as through meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises.
It's important to note that your microbiome is unique to you, so what works for one person may not work for another. It's best to experiment with different foods and supplements to find what works best for you. As well, it's always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional before making any significant changes to your diet or supplement regimen.
How Do I Know When my Biome is Optimal?
If you have an optimal microbiome you'll be feeling good! You'll feel healthy and energetic, with a strong immune system and zero issues with your digestion.