Gut Bacteria and Hormones
A healthy gut is inhabited by about 100 trillion bacteria, of about 500-1000 different species. Your gut bacteria is unique to you and will vary depending on where in the world you live.
These little fellas are - as most of you probably know - crucial to our gut health. What you might not
know, is that they also have a great impact on our hormones, fertility and menstrual cycle.
How does gut bacteria impact the menstrual cycle and fertility?
The gut bacteria is a key player in keeping a healthy gut. When our gut bacteria is out of whack - it creates inflammation in the intestines, which in turn leads to inflammation in the rest of the body. Inflammation has a directly down-regulating effect on the production of healthy amounts of sex hormones. It is also the main contributor to many diseases that in turn will affect our fertility and menstrual cycle health negatively, as well as the most common cause behind menstrual pain. Now, there are many other factors that contribute to inflammation as well - but an unbalanced gut bacteria is certainly one of the most profound.
Our gut bacteria also plays an important role in estrogen metabolism - making sure that excess estrogen gets removed from the body, instead of keeping on circulating in the blood.
Why does gut bacteria get out of whack?
Originally, we have gotten our healthy gut bacteria from the soil - via the food we eat. However, improper land management, as well as the use of pesticides, has heavily reduced and changed the composition of bacteria both in our soils and our guts. Add to that our over-use of antibiotics - both in medicine and factory farming - and you get a sure recipe for disaster.
What can we do to restore a healthy gut microbiome?
First of all, cut out all use of antibiotics that is not absolutely necessary - whenever possible, try to find other options.
Secondly, eat as much local organic food as your situation allows. And when eating local organic vegetables, don't wash them! The small remainders of soil will be of great benefit to your gut bacteria.
Cut out all factory-farmed meat, dairy and eggs - opt for organic produce from health and happy animals.
Thirdly, make sure that you eat the right kind of sugars and starches - giving food to the bacteria, but of the right kind and not in excess. The more refined the carbohydrate is, the more likely it is to do damage to the microbiome. How much carbohydrates your gut can handle, and what kind is optimal for you, depend on a lot of factors and will vary between individuals.
In addition, a great strategy is to add a probiotic supplement to your daily routine. My personal favorite - and by far the cheapest alternative - is what you see on the picture in this blog: homemade fermented vegetables!
What strategies have worked for you to restore your gut health? And have you seen any effect on the menstrual cycle? Let me know in the comments!