Menopause is a natural biological process in women, typically around 45 to 55, marking the end of their reproductive years. While menopause brings about various hormonal changes, it also impacts other areas of a woman’s health, including gut health. The gut, often called the “second brain,” is crucial to well-being, digestion, and immune function. During menopause, hormonal fluctuations can affect the gut microbiome, leading to digestive issues and other discomforts. However, with proper understanding and proactive measures, women can maintain a healthy gut and ease their transition through menopause. Here, we will investigate the relationship between menopause and gut health and provide essential tips to support women during this stage of life.
Menopause-Gut Health Connection
Menopause involves a decline in estrogen and progesterone levels, which affects several bodily functions, including the gut. The gut microbiome, composed of trillions of bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms, influences digestion, metabolism, and the immune system. Estrogen is vital in maintaining a healthy balance of gut bacteria, promoting diversity and stability within the microbiome. As estrogen levels decrease during menopause, changes in the gut environment occur, leading to imbalances in microbial populations.
These gut microbiome alterations can result in gastrointestinal symptoms experienced during menopause, such as bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, and food sensitivities. Moreover, imbalances in gut bacteria can impact nutrient absorption, increase the risk of inflammation, and contribute to the development of chronic conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Tips For Supporting Gut Health During Menopause
Prioritize a Balanced Diet
A well-balanced diet is crucial in maintaining gut health during menopause. Incorporate a variety of fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes to promote healthy bowel movements and support the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. Fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi are rich in probiotics that enhance gut microbial diversity. Additionally, consuming prebiotic-rich foods such as onions, garlic, leeks, and asparagus can fuel the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
Stay Hydrated and Limit Trigger Foods
Drinking adequate water is essential for maintaining proper digestion and preventing constipation. Limiting or avoiding trigger foods that may exacerbate digestive symptoms is also important. Common triggers include spicy foods, fatty foods, caffeine, alcohol, and carbonated beverages. Identifying personal trigger foods and avoiding them can significantly alleviate gut discomfort.
Manage Stress Levels
Chronic stress can disrupt the delicate balance of the gut microbiome. During menopause, hormone fluctuations can lead to increased stress levels. Stress-reducing activities such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing exercises, and time in nature can help regulate stress hormones and promote a healthy gut environment.
Regular Exercise for Gut Motility
Physical activity benefits overall health and supports gut motility. Regular exercise helps stimulate bowel movements, reduce bloating, and enhance digestion. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity workout most days of the week, such as brisk walking, cycling, swimming, or dancing.
Consider Probiotic Supplements
Probiotic supplements can boost the gut microbiome during menopause. Look for supplements that contain a variety of bacterial strains, specifically those known to support gut health. Consult a healthcare expert to determine the most suitable probiotic supplement.
Seek Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) if Necessary
In some cases, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may be recommended to alleviate menopausal symptoms and support overall health. HRT can help stabilize hormone levels and potentially mitigate the impact of menopause on gut health. Discuss the benefits and risks of HRT with a healthcare expert to make an informed decision.
Menopause is a transformative phase in a woman’s life, and taking care of gut health during this time is crucial for overall well-being. By understanding the connection between menopause and gut health and implementing the aforementioned tips, women can effectively manage digestive symptoms and support a healthy gut microbiome. Remember, consulting with a healthcare professional for personalized guidance and advice tailored to individual needs is essential. With a proactive approach, women can navigate the menopause journey with confidence and enjoy optimal gut health throughout their lives.
Gut Problems During Menopause
NourishDoc: Talk to us about problems during menopause
Ayurveda coach Vanashree: Ayurveda focuses on these five elements called Pancha mahabhutha, which are Fire, Water, air, earth, and ether; everything in the universe is made up of all these five elements, depending on whichever is dominant. They have a unique constitution. So according to your unique constitution known as property, you will have different issues related to menopause.
Types of doshas
If you have more air and aether elements during menopause or while you’re going through menopause, you will experience things like bloating, cramps, and constipation, okay if pitta that is fire and water element, pitta is a dosha that is a functional principle. The fire and water elements are more imbalanced in your body; you will experience things like hot flashes, excessive bleeding, insomnia, hair loss hair fall, the Kapha dosha is a water and earth element is imbalanced in your body, then you will see things like again clotting excessively like excessive bleeding where you’re not able to manage it with just few past you know, a few tampons.
Types of Agni
Agni means your Jatharagni, and agni means your digestive fire. If you are a water person, where you naturally have air and aether elements more than the other five elements, you will see that you have something called vishama agni. Vishama means erratic and irregular. The second is teekshnagni. Teekshna means strong, fiery metabolism like I call these people hangry. The third is a slow metabolism called manda agni, which slows down then; these people are more prone to constipation, and they are more prone to having mucus in their stools or thick heavy stools without lack of appetite, no hunger, things like that. So the best agni to have the best digestive is called a soma agni which is a normal agni. This portion will affect your gut health if you’re overeating or under-eating.
I believe everything that is produced in your body is produced through your gut; your gut is the foundation or the basis of your health; that is, your agni is going to make the decisions for whatever tissues are being formed in your body, whatever enzymes are being formed or whatever hormones are being formed. So it’s very crucial to keep your digestive fire normal.
Gut Health And Hormones
If it’s too teekshna, now, it’s going to cause more pitta aggravation, more aggravation of fire and water element all over the body causing things like hot flashes, hair loss, hair fall, okay, so the first thing you need to remember is to keep your agni healthy and tips for doing that, even to balance your hormones. One thing keyword to balance your hormones is routine. So you’re giving your doshas specific jobs to do during the day. If they’re out of balance, they’re just going to cause many symptoms. A perimenopausal woman experiences bloating and constipation; this relates to vishama agni.
How To Balance Hormones
Things to balance hormones are first to drink only warm water; If you’re bloated and constipated, keep drinking warm water; another simple tea, a herbal tea that you can do, is cumin and coriander and fennel, so cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and fennel seed for about two cups of water. You can also add carom seeds to this, called ova red you can add carom seeds to it as well, which will also be very beneficial. You can move the hormones around the body by doing something abhyanga. It means self-oil massage. The most easily available and neutral oil is sunflower oil. Sleeping is a big thing for hormones. So stress is the fourth factor that affects hormones. So meditation, breathing techniques, and yoga can greatly help. Yoga postures can help a lot. Baddha konasana, Paschimottanasana.
Hormonal Imbalance & Gut Health Link
NourishDoc: How important is the significance of gut health to estrogen and progesterone?
Ayurveda coach Vanashree: Pitta is the fire and water element. So, when there is an imbalance in the fire and water elements in the body, you will find hormonal imbalances. For PCOD, the first thing would be to fix the hormonal production and maintain the regularity of the cycles. If you are a healthy woman, knowing your constitution and agni type can empower you to avoid what will happen in the perimenopausal age.
Ayurveda believes in on principle called like increases like and opposites balance. So knowing what kind of a person you are can empower you to avoid those symptoms later. The best thing for a vata person or vishama agni person would be to do ginger tea first in the morning; that was great. For a pitta person, the best thing would be to do some licorice and water like licorice tea would be ideal or amla tea. For a kapha person, maybe doing some black pepper or Turmeric in the water would help.