Gut check: Could your microbiome influence how you experience menopause?
(NaturalHealth365) Your body can tell you much about your health if you listen. One of the most useful and easiest ways to assess your health status is how it eliminates waste. You’re no doubt familiar with analyzing the color of your urine to determine your hydration level, but your stools can be just as telling.
A recent study published in Menopause identified a link between gut health issues like bowel irregularity, stool consistency, and the prevalence, type, and intensity of menopause symptoms.
Balancing act: Navigating life’s new phases beyond menopause
As life expectancy continue to rise, women dedicate a more substantial portion of their lives – approximately 30% to 40% – to the post-menopausal phase. For a significant majority of women, roughly 80%, this extended duration means coping with post-menopausal issues for a longer time period.
The implications of this prolonged post-menopausal phase are paramount, particularly when considering the prevalence of hot flashes. These pesky episodes are a common experience for women during and after menopause, with an average duration of about 7½ years. However, for some individuals, the discomfort may persist even longer.
During menopause, the absence of sex steroids profoundly affects women’s nervous systems, introducing many changes and challenges. Concurrently, the world of gut microbiota emerges as a vital player in influencing women’s stress responses and sex hormone metabolism. This interplay underscores a robust connection between these elements, shedding light on the multifaceted relationship between post-menopausal symptoms, gut health, and stress.
How hot flashes relate to gut health in menopause
As women age, the intricate relationship between their gut microbiota and sex hormones undergoes significant changes, particularly during the menopausal transition. Scientists have delved into understanding the potential connections between stress, menopausal symptoms, and gastrointestinal concerns that often affect women in midlife.
Incorporating data from an extensive study of nearly 700 women in their 50s, the research uncovered a correlation between gastrointestinal issues, stress, and the intensity of menopausal symptoms experienced by these women. Notably, a direct association emerged between hot flashes and stool consistency.
Furthermore, the study revealed that menopausal symptoms worsen significantly in women with constipation. In contrast, women with normal stool consistency and those without constipation reported milder menopausal symptoms. Several other factors, such as depression, body mass index (BMI), anxiety, and physical activity, also played a role in influencing the severity, type, and frequency of menopausal symptoms.
Good gut health may help ease menopause symptoms
Caring for your gut is essential, regardless of age. The good news? Maintaining good gut health can potentially alleviate menopausal symptoms. Here are some steps to nurture your gut:
- Incorporate a daily probiotic into your routine.
- Ensure your diet is fiber-rich, as the body’s efficiency in processing fiber decreases with age.
- Opt for a well-balanced, nutrient-rich, and organic diet.
- Stay physically active through regular exercise.
- Keep yourself adequately hydrated, reducing or eliminating soda and sugary beverages and moderating coffee intake.
- If needed, explore natural remedies instead of relying on laxatives. Increase fiber intake, consume raw vegetables, and maintain proper hydration. Prunes, prune juice, spinach, magnesium citrate, and senna tea are gentle alternatives for harsh laxatives.
- Another, often overlooked, health tip would be to chew your food well to improve digestion.
By nurturing your gut, you can enhance your post-menopausal years, improving looks, well-being, and overall health. If you need extra help, consider hiring a health coach or talking to a holistic physician that has experience with this issue.
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