Health Topics

Gut Hormone Connection
Dr. Heather Boyd-Roberts

Diarrhea, constipation, nausea, bloating, irritability, mood swings, and fatigue prior to your period and during peri-menopause phase of life can happen from hormonal changes around your cycle connected to an altered bacterial balance in your intestinal tract.

Around your Period

Approximately a week prior to your period your progesterone peaks. Progesterone is a muscle relaxer and can slow motility through your intestines. At that same time your estrogen drops also slowing your intestinal transit, causing bloating and constipation. However, for some women the opposite is true and they end up with diarrhea instead of constipation. This can come from changes in estrogen levels causing spasms in the digestive tract which can increase motility and movement of food through your digestive tract. These hormonal changes can alter your microbiome.

There are a variety of factors that can alter the balance in your bowels including antibiotics, pesticides, GMO food, stress, lack of fiber and a high processed food diet. These stressors can alter your bacteria allowing less desirable bacteria to flourish. The less desirable bacteria can allow your excreted estrogen to be reabsorbed changing your hormonal balance. This can lead to increased peri-menopausal or PMS symptoms including irritability and other mood changes, breast tenderness, fluid retention, hot flashes in addition to the digestive discomfort.

Peri-Menopause

During peri-menopause your hormones slowly drop. This estrogen drop can slow the motility in your bowels and slow your metabolism, which can impact your gut microbiome causing even more digestive problems.

What can You Do

To help your microbiome and your hormonal transitions whether it's through the fertility years or through peri-menopause and beyond you can take these steps to balance your hormones and make a healthy microbiome.

1) Exercise Regularly- Exercise not only increases your metabolism to prevent weight gain, but the movement aids digestive motility and the health of your microbiome.

2) Consume 25 grams of fiber daily- Fiber not only bulks your stool, when combined with plenty of fresh filtered water, it also provides a fuel for your intestinal bacteria. The fiber helps the bacteria produce butyrate which fuels the gut lining, reduces gut inflammation, helps to plug leaky gut and helps the colon cells stay healthy, reducing your risk of colon cancer. If you are following a lower carbohydrate diet eating 25 grams of fiber is no easy feat. To help with the butyrate production in your bowels use a fiber that contains flax seed, broccoli and kale sprouts, chia seeds, apple fiber and pectin, and fenugreek seed fiber.

3) Take a gut healthy probiotic daily - Not all probiotics are created equal. Some bacteria have been found to stimulate sluggish metabolism, which is often the case when hormones are imbalanced. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial there was an average of 2.9 lbs weight loss with using this specific probiotic. The greatest weight loss was in overweight females who were over 50 years old.

4) Consume Poly-phenols - Poly-phenols are micronutrients that are packed with antioxidants. They can improve digestion, aid with weight management, reduce health risk for cardiovascular disease, and bind to estrogen receptors thereby mimicking or inhibiting the action of estrogens. Poly-phenols are found in apples, turmeric, cranberries, blueberries and pomegranates to name a few. You can eat these foods and take a phenol rich bowel bacteria promoting supplement.

Get Start with the Protocol

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