Gut Health & The Female Cycle
We regularly talk about how an unhappy gut can have a huge effect on your overall health and wellbeing. It can cause bloating, acid reflux, constipation, as well as countless other side effects that stop us from feeling like ourselves. It’s also estimated that around 80% of our immune system and 90% of our body’s serotonin (the happy hormone) is produced in our digestive tract. So when our gut thrives so do our mind and body.
Recent studies are making it more and more clear that the state of your gut, healthy or unhealthy, also has a real impact on your hormone levels and that keeping those gut bugs happy and healthy can be a huge help when it comes to symptoms experienced around that time of the month. Why do we experience these symptons? Let’s take a closer look…
As your period begins, your body starts to produce more estrogen. These hormones, created in your ovaries, are then passed through your bloodstream and down to your liver. We’re about to get a little technical now so bear with us. When your estrogen hormones reach this part in your liver, they’re deactivated (sounds like a scene from mission impossible) and sent into your intestines. This is the party where the estrogen hormones are broken down by enzymes so they can leave your body. However, if your microbiome is unhappy, whether that be down to stress, your diet, or medical conditions, for example, the estrogen hormones don’t leave your body but instead stay put. The more estrogen, the more likely you are to experience symptoms of PMS. It’s even been linked to heavier and more painful periods, along with mood swings and of course the dreaded bloating and constipation. It’s important to mention at this point that we are all very different and individually, will experience different symptoms based on our personal circumstances. So symptoms may vary from person to person.
It’s important to give you gut the TLC it needs all year round, however hormone changes and that time of the month can have a great impact on how we are feeling, giving even more reason to make sure our gut health isn’t something that is just forgotten about.
So what can we do to help keep our gut and hormones happy?
Food glorious food – Don’t worry, we’re not going to tell you what you can and can’t eat, but what we will say is a balanced diet is so important. Don’t deprive yourself of the foods you love, but make sure you’re fueling your body and the good bacteria inside, with the nutrients it needs. A healthy gut has a really diverse community of microbes and they each prefer different food. The best way to fuel your gut’s bacteria is to eat a wide range of foods, from fruits and veggies to nuts, pulses, whole grains, even herbs, and spices. This is a great excuse to get creative in the kitchen and let out your inner master chef and experiment with fresh foods, rather than overly processed food we are very often presented with.
Let’s talk booze - Alcohol plays a big part in affecting not only our gut health, but also the liver that helps in detoxifying and circulating estrogen.
Move your body - There is so much power in movement and the impact it has on your gut is huge. Now don’t worry I’m not saying you have to do a HIIT class every day, but even a brisk walk, jog, or a home workout of your choice can help increase the good bacteria in your gut, which not only improves your digestion but also helps absorb nutrients and promotes overall health. Moving your body literally keeps things moving in your gut (we know it sounds weird but this is good, trust us). If your gut us happy, your hormones are happy!
Address your stress - If you are stressed then so is your gut! If your gut is stressed, you are probably going to feel the wrath of your period more. If you’re feeling stressed or anxious, which many of us most definitely are at the moment, your gut will be feeling it too. For some of us, stress can slow down digestion, causing bloating and pain just to name a few. Keeping beneficial bacteria in your gut happy and healthy is super important for improving your body's resilience. Although it’s much easier said than done to just stop stressing, try to allow yourself some downtime where you can - incorporate some calming techniques into your daily routine like breathing exercises and meditation - read that book you’ve been dying to read that has been sitting on your bedside table gathering dust for months. There are so many ways to help bring down the stress levels in your body, which in turn will keep your gut feeling happy and calm.
Make Probiotics your friend - The power of probiotics, aka the good bacteria, are live microorganisms that provide all sorts of powerful benefits for your body and brain. It’s important to eat a variety of probiotics and fermented foods so your gut doesn’t feel overwhelmed with the same bacterial strains and ends up lacking in others. This is a great way to introduce different ‘live’ foods (sounds scary I know) into your daily routine. While yogurt may be your first choice, why not try the likes of kefir, kimchi, and kombucha - each booming with beneficial bacteria to help give your gut the TLC it needs to stay healthy. I am definitely biased, but a daily shot of Naked Biotics Maintain or Restore is a great way to keep your gut thriving and feeling good. I have to say it’s also great fun shotting it every morning! Why not try the 30 Day Restore Plan?