Why gut health is important during peri/menopause
Gut health plays an important role in perimenopause for several reasons.
Firstly, perimenopause is a time of hormonal fluctuations that can impact digestive function.
Changes in estrogen and progesterone levels can lead to changes in gut motility, which can affect the speed at which food moves through the digestive tract. This can contribute to symptoms such as bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.
Secondly, gut health is closely linked to immune function, and a healthy gut can help support a strong immune system during a time when the body may be more vulnerable to infections and illnesses.
Thirdly, the gut microbiome, which is the community of microorganisms that live in the digestive tract, plays an important role in hormone metabolism.
The gut microbiome can metabolize estrogen, and changes in the gut microbiome during perimenopause may contribute to estrogen imbalances and associated symptoms such as hot flashes and mood changes.
Finally, the gut-brain axis, which is the connection between the gut and the central nervous system, is thought to play a role in regulating mood and cognitive function.
Disruptions in the gut microbiome or digestive function may contribute to mood changes and cognitive symptoms during perimenopause.
Overall, maintaining a healthy gut during perimenopause may help support digestive function, immune function, hormone metabolism, and overall wellbeing.
Strategies such as consuming a balanced and varied diet, staying hydrated, and managing stress levels may all help support gut health during this time.
I teach an individualised approach to supporting gut health during perimenopause.
Here are a few randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and systematic reviews that support the idea that gut health is important during perimenopause:
- Chedraui et al. Effect of probiotics on fecal microbiota composition in postmenopausal women with osteopenia: a randomized controlled trial. Menopause, 2019.
This RCT examined the effects of probiotics on gut microbiota in postmenopausal women with osteopenia (a condition that increases the risk of developing osteoporosis). The study found that probiotic supplementation led to improvements in gut microbiota composition, suggesting that probiotics may be a useful tool for supporting gut health during perimenopause.
- Komesu et al. Efficacy of Prebiotic, Probiotic, and Synbiotic Supplementation in Menopausal Women: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Menopause, 2020.
This systematic review and meta-analysis examined the effects of prebiotics, probiotics, and synbiotics (a combination of pre- and probiotics) on menopausal symptoms in women. The study found that supplementation with pre- and probiotics led to improvements in a variety of symptoms, including hot flashes and vaginal dryness, suggesting that gut health may play a role in the management of menopausal symptoms.
- Mahmood et al. Effects of probiotics on quality of life, fatigue and depressive symptoms in patients with breast cancer receiving chemotherapy: A randomized controlled trial. Indian Journal of Palliative Care, 2019.
While not specifically focused on perimenopause, this RCT examined the effects of probiotic supplementation on quality of life and mood in patients with breast cancer receiving chemotherapy, a population that may experience similar symptoms to those experienced during perimenopause. The study found that probiotic supplementation led to improvements in quality of life, fatigue, and depressive symptoms, suggesting that supporting gut health may be an important strategy for improving mood and overall wellbeing during periods of hormonal fluctuation.
Overall, while more research is needed to fully understand the relationship between gut health and perimenopause, these studies suggest that strategies such as probiotic supplementation may be useful for supporting gut health and improving menopausal symptoms.