The Importance of the Gut Microbiome in Women’s Health
The topic of gut health has made headlines more and more as years go by. With upcoming research providing more insight into the importance of gut health, it’s hard to avoid the topic. A healthy gut is important for everyone, but it can be especially important for women.
The gut microbiome is different for males and females.
When it comes to women, there is a whole other slew of factors that may contribute to changes in our gut microbiome, such as menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and even female-specific products, including makeup, perfume, and birth control that might harm these essential microbes.
But what does this mean, and why is it important?
What Is the Gut Microbiome?
The gut microbiome includes a variety of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microorganisms that live inside your body and exert important health functions, such as regulating immunity, aiding in digestion, and more.
Although some of these organisms are associated with disease, common gut flora found within our digestive system are extremely valuable for our overall health.
Bacteria are the most researched of the different organisms found in the gut microbiome. In fact, there are over 1000 different species of bacteria found in the human gut.
Many different diet and lifestyle factors can affect the health and diversity of your microbiome and gender. As research continues, links between gut health and immunity, digestive conditions, heart health, brain health, weight, and blood sugar control have been suggested.
Gut Microbiome and Digestion
Since most of your gut microbiome lies within your digestive tract, it shouldn’t be surprising that it plays a large role in digestion. Although the roles of our microbiome and digestion are complicated, diverse, and still under research, we do know that they play an essential part in synthesizing certain vitamins and amino acids, such as vitamin K and B vitamins.
They also help to break down starches and fibers in the colon to produce short-chain fatty acids.
Because of gut health’s role in digestion, our gut microbiome can be affected by our diet and lifestyle choices. A poor diet can negatively impact our gut flora, which can have effects on our immune system, increase the risk for digestive conditions, and more.
On the flip side, diet can also be used to help treat certain conditions by improving our gut flora, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Gut Immunity Connection
One of the biggest discoveries in gut health is that the microorganisms in our gut help provide immune homeostasis within our body.
About 70% of our immune system lies within our gut and is greatly affected by our diet and lifestyle choices. In other words, you really are what you eat.
The diverse microbial community found within our gut partners with our immune system. This symbiotic relationship allows greater protection from foreign invaders and other potentially harmful substances to maintain homeostasis, or balance, within the body.
Gut Health in Women
Everyone’s gut microbiome is different, but women have other factors that may affect the diversity of their gut flora, including pregnancy.
During pregnancy, especially the third trimester, there are large changes to a women’s gut microbiome to contribute to a healthy pregnancy and fetal development.
Along with the many metabolic and hormonal changes that occur during this time, the changes in gut diversity have only recently been considered.
The foods you choose, products you use, and even hormonal fluctuations can all play a large role in the diversity of our gut flora. The more diverse gut flora in your microbiome, the better it will function.
Although we can’t necessarily help changes in our hormones, especially during menstrual cycles or pregnancy, women can help their gut microbes by choosing a healthy, balanced diet and avoiding harsh female products.
Recent Talk About the Gut-Brain Connection
Over recent years, scientists believe they have discovered a link between our emotions and our gut. Our digestive system and brain are connected and communicate with each other.
Research suggests that our gut is sensitive to certain emotions, resulting in gastrointestinal distress and vice versa. This is known as the gut-brain connection.
This connection suggests that a look at mental health, including stress, anxiety, and other emotions, needs to be considered in treating certain digestive disorders.
How to Maintain Optimal Gut Health
The best way to maintain optimal gut health is to include a healthy diet that incorporates a variety of prebiotic and probiotic foods and regular exercise, and a healthy lifestyle that avoids smoking or excessive alcohol intake.
Probiotics are live bacteria that can help replenish your healthy gut flora, and prebiotics are food for the probiotics that allows them to thrive.
You will find probiotics in fermented foods, such as yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, miso, etc. Prebiotics are found in many foods that contain indigestible fibers, such as bananas, oats, legumes, beans, garlic, leeks, berries, and more.
Those who have difficulty getting adequate probiotics and prebiotics in their diet might consider adding a supplement to help maintain gut health, such as Naked Nutrition’s gut health supplement.
Naked Gut contains prebiotic and probiotic sources to help supplement what you might be missing in your diet.
The human gut holds more than just food, and it holds a whole host of various microorganisms that work together to keep us healthy and protect us from harm. Research has found links between our gut microbiome and various other aspects of human health that shouldn’t be ignored.
Put your gut health on your priority list and choose a healthy, balanced diet rich in probiotic and prebiotic-rich food sources.