This Is Your Gut On Menopause
Gut health awareness is growing fast and for good reason. With each new study that’s published, it’s becoming increasingly clear our gut influences aspects of our health far outside of it. As a hormone, estrogen not only influences the gut microbiome but is greatly influenced by it as well.1 The marked fluctuations and ultimate decline of estrogen that come with menopause do not go unnoticed by our guts, and so they shouldn’t go unnoticed by us either.
Gut health is central to overall wellness
Our gut is responsible for two crucial processes: digesting the nutrients our body needs from the foods we consume, and eliminating any toxic wastes left behind. It also contains a diverse bacterial community known as the gut microbiome, which contributes to various bodily processes. A healthy gut microbiome helps break down compounds in foods and turn them into forms that our body can use and contributes to our overall health at every stage of life.
Menopause can affect gut health
The research around this is still new, but here’s what we do know. Our gut health is particularly important during menopause because the gut microbiome plays a role in the circulation of estrogens. We say estrogens because there are three types of this hormone (E1, E2, and E3). The gut turns these estrogens into different forms and makes them available to continue supporting the various tissues and organs that rely on them.1
These circulating estrogens contribute to a healthy and diverse gut microbiome, which keeps the gut barrier strong.2 Gut barrier strength plays an important role in overall health. It allows our gut to absorb nutrients and keep harmful substances from getting into our bloodstream.3
Menopause disrupts this process and the interplay between estrogens and the gut microbiome. Declining levels of estrogen impact can impact the gut allowing for an imbalance between healthy and unhealthy bacteria.2 The relationship between gut microbiota and a lack of estrogen is a contributory factor for weight gain during menopause.1 Study findings have also linked the gut to various aspects of bone health as well.1
From plants to menopause symptom relief
Isoflavones are plant compounds used in many menopause symptom relief supplements, and they’re just one example of how the gut helps break compounds in foods we eat and convert them into forms our body can use. Isoflavones are found in soybean-derived foods and are often consumed or used in supplements because of their antioxidant and estrogen-like activities in the body. Research even suggests the gut might be one reason isoflavones are so effective in the first place.4
Equol is the byproduct of a specific isoflavone being digested in the gut and has stronger antioxidative effects than the isoflavone which produces it.4 People who produce equol naturally have a beneficial gut microbiome that allows for the production of many other helpful compounds as well, including S-equol (the active ingredient in EQUELLE).
As a phytoestrogen, S-equol can mimic the effects of estrogen without increasing levels of it. Our patented fermentation process recreates these natural gut conditions to produce the S-equol in Equelle, which helps address some of the most common menopause symptoms associated with estrogen loss, including reducing the frequency of hot flashes and helping to relieve muscle discomfort.†
How to support your gut health during any stage of life
While the research connecting gut health to estrogen loss is still new, there is a lot we already know about tending to our gut health in general. A shocking 60–70 million Americans are affected by digestive diseases, and because many factors contribute to this (your diet, family history, how you manage stress, etc.), there isn’t one quick fix that works for everyone.5
Thankfully there are a few general tips that may help ease digestive discomfort:
- Slowly increase your fiber intake to 20–30 mg/day.5 Start with small servings and gradually introduce more fiber into your diet to avoid gas and bloating.
- But don’t increase your fiber intake too much, because some fiber-rich foods can be hard to digest.5 Try a few new options and see which work best for you.
- Sneak in some fruits and veggies in every meal. Fill up on healthy foods so you’ll have less room for those not-so-gut-friendly options.
- Find your healthy way to deal with stress. Because stress has such an impact on our overall health, learning to find your way of coping with it could also help improve your digestive health.
Learning to follow our gut’s instincts
Most of the studies regarding gut health and estrogen are done during a woman’s reproductive years. But the marked estrogen deficiency that comes with menopause can last approximately 30 years of our lives.1 Whether we’re experiencing symptoms or not, this change affects many unseen parts of our body. Perhaps the adage here rings even truer as we age, that when it comes to health, we should listen to our gut.
- Vieira, A et al. Influence of Oral and Gut Microbiome in the Health of Menopausal Women. Front 2017; 8:1884.
- Baker, J et al. Estrogen-gut microbiome axis: Physiological and clinical implications. Maturitas. 2017; 103: 45–53.
- Rios-Arce, N et al. Epithelial barrier function in gut-bone signaling. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2017; 1033: 151–183.
- Murota, K et al. Flavonoid metabolism: the interaction of metabolites and gut microbiota. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2018; 82 (4):600–610.
- News in Health. “Keeping Your Gut in Check: Healthy Options to Stay on Tract.” 2017. National Institutes of Health. Accessed on: December 16, 2019. <https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2017/05/keeping-your-gut-check>