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  • Writer's pictureJo Leccacorvi

Why good gut health is important in perimenopause and beyond

When it comes to managing your perimenopause symptoms, it is essential to have a variety of tools in your box to so you can thrive rather than survive. One of the tools includes avoiding a quick fix diet and focusing on nourishing foods that leave you feeling full, satisfied, and energised. Emerging studies highlight the important relationship between gut health and sex hormones, offering useful insights into managing perimenopause symptoms effectively.


Recent research highlights the impact of gut health on sex hormone regulation. The gut microbiome plays an important role in metabolising and regulating oestrogen levels in the body. This process maybe interrupted if there are any imbalances in the gut microbiota which may exacerbate your perimenopause symptoms.


Importance of Gut Health for General Wellbeing

Our bodies contain millions (actually trillions!) of bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Collectively, they are known as the microbiome. They exist on our skin and inside our intestines and they have an important role in keeping us healthy. There are many different species, some are ‘good,’ and others are ‘bad.’ Both types have a role in maintaining your health, but it is really important they are ‘balanced.’ Our microbes are important for:⁣⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀


💛 Support digestion

💛 Aid nutrient absorption⁣⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

💛 Produce certain vitamins⁣⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

💛 Produce neurotransmitters that regulate your mood⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

💛 Supports your immune system⁣⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

💛 Strengthens the physical defences of the gut wall⁣⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

💛 Regulate inflammation⁣⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

💛 Produce antimicrobial substances⁣⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

💛 Help your brain health⁣⠀⠀


Gut Health in Perimenopause

During perimenopause, hormonal fluctuations can affect the composition of the gut microbiota, leading to dysbiosis—an imbalance of gut bacteria. This dysregulation can exacerbate symptoms such as bloating, weight gain, and mood disturbances. Prioritising gut health becomes imperative during this phase to manage your symptoms and promote hormonal harmony.


Understanding the Estrobolome 

What is the estrobolome I hear you ask. The estrobolome is made up of gut bacteria that are responsible for regulating the amount of oestrogen that circulates around your body. When your gut bacteria is well balanced then the estrobolome does an amazing job by making sure the right amount of oestrogen is circulating around your body. However, if your gut bacteria is out of balance then unfortunately this carefully controlled process can go a bit pear shaped. To add to this, the fluctuating and declining hormones that you experience during perimenopause can also disrupt the balance of our gut bacteria. As well as experiencing perimenopause symptoms you may find that you are experiencing digestive symptoms such as weight gain, bloating, changes to bowel movements, cramping, brain fog, excessive flatulence, indigestion, fatigue, reflux, reacting to certain foods, or halitosis. As previously mentioned, if your gut bacteria is not in balance, it may worsen your perimenopause symptoms.


There is a particular type of gut bacteria that produce an enzyme called beta-glucuronidase. This enzyme has a role in regulating the amount of oestrogen that recirculates in your body. If your gut bacteria is in balance, then the appropriate amount of beta-glucuronidase is released to ensure the correct amount of oestrogen is circulated around your body. However, if it is out of balance, it disrupts this tightly controlled process and disrupts the amount of oestrogen being circulated around the body and may negatively impact your perimenopause symptoms.


The Importance of Oestrogen

You may be surprised to know that oestrogen has a number of different roles in the body. Not only does it influence reproduction function but oestrogen effects bone density, heart, cognitive function, liver, skin, joints, muscles, bowel, nerves, and bladder. This is why you experience such a wide variety of symptoms during perimenopause. As oestrogen levels fluctuate during perimenopause, supporting optimal oestrogen metabolism through a healthy gut becomes paramount for managing symptoms and reducing the risk of related health complications.


How to Support your Gut Health

Fortunately, there are practical steps women can take to support their gut health during perimenopause and beyond:


Eat plenty of fibre

Eating a wide variety of vegetables supports your gut health. The fibre found in plant-based foods helps to feed your gut bacteria allowing them to thrive. The key thing when it comes to improving your gut health is variety. It’s that classic phrase, ‘eat a rainbow’ because eating a wide range of different coloured plant-based foods encourages a diverse range of the good gut bacteria that have many health benefits. Plus, by eating a wide variety of coloured veggies ensures intake of a wide variety of micronutrients, which are essential for good health.


If you are increasing your veg intake it is equally important to make sure you are drinking enough water. If you are dehydrated it may cause constipation and drinking plenty of water helps you have a poo more easily.


A general rule around how much vegetables to include really to vary. Some nutritionists say to include 30 varieties over the course of the week, and some say eat two portions of fruit and eight portions of vegetables per day. There is also the ‘eat five a day mantra.’


I like to keep things simple, so I always recommend including vegetables with every meal, breakfast, lunch, and dinner and make sure that half of your plate is full of vegetables.


Fermented foods

Fermented foods such as natural yogurt, kefir (milk and water), kombucha, miso, kimchi, and sauerkraut contain probiotics that support your gut health, digestion, and your liver. If you are not used to eating these types of food, I would suggest gradually introduce them into your everyday diet otherwise you may experience unpleasant symptoms such as bloating or excess wind.


Include protein with every meal

Protein is important for perimenopausal women as it provide building blocks in the body and helps to regulate metabolic function. If you’re not sure what I mean by metabolic function I’m referring to all of the processes that take place in your body such as producing energy, digesting food to break down the nutrients so they can be absorbed. Protein is also used to make hormones including your sex hormones. Click here to read my blog about the role of protein and why it is important for perimenopausal women.


Include healthy fats in our everyday diet

Fat is another important nutrient for perimenopausal women. As well as being made from protein fat is also needed for hormone production, fat is also important for brain health and cognition and fat is needed in your diet to help you absorb fat soluble vitamins such as vitamins A D E and K. Click here to read my blog about the importance of fat in perimenopause.


Supporting your gut health is one of the many tools that you can use to help support you with your perimenopause symptoms. If you would like support in changing your everyday diet to improve your gut health, you can book in for a free chat with me by clicking here.

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