Most of us have heard that the bacteria in our gut affects us in big ways. That’s why probiotics have grown in popularity over the past decade — keeping your good bacteria in your intestines healthy and happy, helps to keep you healthy and happy.
There’s such a fascinating connection between all aspects of our health (including our mental health) and our gut. We don’t often connect our hormonal health to what’s happening in our intestines or to our poop, but understanding how one affects the other is key to feeling better throughout your cycle and as your hormones change when you age.
Hormonal Health and Your Gut
One connection you might have noticed is on your period you experience more constipation during your luteal phase (the two weeks right before you start bleeding) and more “period poops” or diarrhea during menstruation. This is totally normal and connected to your estrogen and progesterone levels fluctuating (we’ll talk about ways to ease your symptoms below).
But this isn’t a one way street where hormones affect your gut, your gut can actually affect your hormones—especially our moods! Although it sounds strange, our bodies want us to remember and connect our emotions to our food, so our intestines actually control a lot of our brain chemistry. If we eat something that is bad for us (say some poisonous berries), our bodies want to make sure we remember that a long time. In addition to getting sick, our bodies make sure we also feel down emotionally. And if we keep having gut issues (say if we have IBS), then our stress hormones increase higher and higher and this messes with our estrogen and testosterone levels.
Steps to Take for Better Gut Health
Probiotics are a great thing to take daily, but even more crucial to your gut health is making sure you are feeding the good bacteria that’s already in your intestines, and encouraging your bad intestines to eliminate. Here’s how:
- Eat more fiber. Your good bacteria thrives off fiber, so that means more veggies and legumes. They weren’t wrong about “the more you eat, the better you feel.”
- Cut down on sugar. Unfortunately the bad bacteria in your intestines loves the sugar and proliferates more abundantly with processed carbs. If you need a sweet treat, fruit is a perfect option because it also packs in fiber for the good bacteria and doesn’t give your bad bacteria a leg up.
- Add a prebiotic to your supplement routine. A prebiotic is soluble fiber that helps feed your good bacteria even if you go a little heavy on the pizza and sugar one day. Having a helping hand in your diet is perfect for real life.
- Add some gut-happy ingredients to your meals. Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and miso keep your good bacteria ticking away. Ginger is a great tummy soother. Chemicals in ginger (like gingerol) have been shown to help your stomach empty faster which helps with heartburn, and are anti-inflammatory so it helps with nausea and general intestinal unhappiness.
We know it’s hard to make diet changes. Don’t feel like you have to cut all sugar and only eat beans and legumes all at once. Starting with a lot of fiber when your body isn’t used to it can actually leave you feeling more bloated and constipated. So take it slow, eat one more serving of veggies a day for a week, then add an additional serving each week with a few bean-based meals. Make sure you also drink a lot of water as that helps you digest all that healthy fiber And voila! Less bloating and constipation.
Our Pre + Probiotic For Women can also help you make these tiny shifts toward a healthier habit with ease. It includes fiber, probiotics, and ginger. So adding 1-2 pills daily can get your body acclimated and happy with the additional fiber and good bacteria in the probiotic strains we use.