Have you had difficulty with weight control, bloating or fullness?
Have you ever taken an antibiotic, eaten too much junk food, or taken some other medication that didn’t agree with your stomach?
Have you every had brain fog, low energy, irritability or bad skin and gone to the doctor and not been able to find out what’s the matter?
As a perimenopause and menopause expert, I see a lot of women who are trying to figure out if their symptoms are due to menopause or something else. Sometimes it’s both.
For many, the answer lies deep in their belly. It’s caused by an inflammation of their intestines due to an imbalance of the roughly three pounds of bacteria that live in your gut naturally.
The number of bacteria in your intestines are staggering: approximately 10 times greater than the number of cells in your body. That has caused some to comment tongue in cheek that people are only 10% human.
And those bacteria are there for a purpose. They are up to 70% of our immune system. They help us digest food. They metabolize medicines we take.
But when they get out of balance, they can also cause problems ranging from pain, to mood changes, to feeling bloated, to autoimmune diseases and more.
I did an interview with fermentationist Summer Bock for the latest issue of The Hot Years, due out September 5. Here is an excerpt of our discussion. Below we discuss how to heal your gut by eating the right foods. There are three food groups that are essential.
You can download a free copy of the magazine at www.HotYearsMag.com.
Summer said that the number one recommendation is for people to take probiotic supplements. Probiotics are the good bacteria that are also killed when you take an antibiotic. And while I think probiotic supplements can give some immediate benefit, here are some better alternatives.
- Daily fiber. Start thinking about fiber as feeding the good bacteria. Eat between 35 – 55 grams a day. You can get that through your vegetables, grains like white rice, or brown rice, or wild rice.
- Natural prebiotics. Examples of foods and starches that act as prebiotics are leeks, asparagus, beans, legumes, banana, garlic, sweet potatoes, squash, and onion. These are fantastic foods to make sure you’re getting regularly. You don’t need all of these every day. Just rotate through a wide diversity of vegetables, legumes and some fruits.
- Fermented foods. They have naturally occurring probiotics and a more balanced ecosystem, and we’ve eaten these fermented foods for thousands of years as humans. Some of my favorite ones are kimchi and sauerkraut, hands down the best ferment that you could bring into your diet. I also recommend dairy kefir and coconut water kefir. Kefir is delicious. You can put it in smoothies, you can put fruit on top of it. Summer prefers dairy kefir over yogurt because yogurt doesn’t have enough probiotics and it’s not the diversity that you need. Another favorite is natto. It’s a soybean ferment. Natto contains some enzymes that are absolutely delightful for your cardiovascular system and helps with digestion. My final recommendation is miso that has been fermented for six months or longer. These are usually the dark miso’s like red miso.
Find the one that really resonates with you. Start with a couple teaspoons or a couple of bites a day and work your way up to a couple of ounces with each meal.
Ever wonder how long do you eat these foods after going on an antibiotic?
According to Summer Bock: Antibiotics are an amazing discovery. And they’ve saved millions and millions of lives. They’re powerful, and I’m really grateful that we have them.
But the more you take antibiotics, the more difficult it is to bring the bacterial balance back. So you end up with dysbiosis, an overgrowth of imbalanced bacteria. The walls of intestines are thin, and well digested molecules of your food can pass right through into your bloodstream. And when you have the a lot of the wrong bacteria growing, they create toxins as metabolites that get absorbed into the bloodstream, causing irritation and inflammation. That blood then goes to the liver and gets filtered. Your liver is like the water treatment plant for these bacteria and you’re inundating your body from the inside out with all this toxicity.
Dr. Mache: This is what people call “leaky gut.” And you’re saying that when you get the wrong combination of bacteria in your intestines, molecules get into your bloodstream and spread the inflammation around. And that leads to not feeling well and can even set up autoimmune diseases and other kinds of conditions that are hard to diagnose.
Summer Bock: Exactly. Even symptoms like brain fog and low energy. You don’t really feel like you need to go to the doctor, but you know you should feel better. But when you clean this stuff up, it changes. Make sure that you’re using antibiotics only when you really need them. Don’t take them for viral infections. They can’t do anything with a virus. And all you’re doing is destroying the ecosystem that over time will make you stronger against that virus.
If you want more information on how to live a healthy, happy and hormonally balanced life in perimenopause and menopause, subscribe at no cost to The Hot Years and get a copy in your inbox. Works for all digital devices your laptop.