Gut health is so central to our health, and the extent to which it controls our day-to-day life is something that we rarely think about. Dr. Golnoush is an expert about gut health and the cofounder of ScreenMe. In an IG live with her, we had a fascinating discussion about managing gut health and its connection to reproductive health.
Keep reading for our key takeaways from the discussion!
What is gut health?
It is the function and balance of bacteria throughout the entire GI tract. The microbiome is the collection of all the bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other microorganisms that live in our intestines. They interact with our cells in order to modulate many health functions, including metabolism, allergies, mood, immune health, and more.
Signs of poor gut health
Problems with digestion, abnormal bowel movements, and bloat could be indicators of poor gut health. However, look at your metabolic health too! Symptoms like weight change, insulin sensitivity, hair, skin, and nail growth, irregular menstrual cycles, and ovulatory dysfunction can be signs of an unhealthy gut. It’s always useful to work with an expert and get their advice. Let them help you!
Leaky Gut Syndrome and how it affects fertility
As the name suggests, Leaky Gut occurs when the pores in the intestinal wall become bigger, allowing toxins and other harmful materials to pass into your bloodstream. The immune system then reacts and causes inflammation. In addition, chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis, and hormonal imbalances are linked to Leaky Gut Syndrome.
Fertility is affected by a range of different systems in our bodies which allow the uterus and ovaries to function properly. With chronic inflammation or gut imbalances, the body starts reacting as if it is under attack and things like fertility get sidelined. The pituitary gland makes more cortisol when the body is under stress, this leads to hormonal imbalances that compete with sex hormones, interference with ovulation, and problems with implantation due to inflammation.
Gut health and Estrogen
There is specific bacteria living in our gut that metabolizes estrogen that is not in use anymore. Without enough of this metabolizing bacteria, excess estrogen that was supposed to be metabolized dissolves into our fat and goes back into the body. When there’s reintroduction of estrogen in the bloodstream, the body has a hard time differentiating between the “old and new” forms of the hormone. This in turn messes up hormonal signaling in the fertility cycle, ovulation, and the production of FH and LSH.
Celiac disease and unexplained infertility
Celiac disease is a disease that causes inflammation which affects the microbiome. Fertility is sensitive to this, and could lead to poor egg quality. Celiac disease can also cause metabolic imbalances such as, disturbances in ovulation and insulin resistance. Metabolic issues coupled with the inflammation can really interfere with our complex hormonal system and fertility.
A guide to improving and maintaining a healthy gut
It’s always better to do things tailored to your symptoms and body specifically, so work with experts because you deserve to know what is going on with your health. Include probiotic foods like yogurt, kefir, fermented vegetables like sauerkraut or kimchi, miso, and anything else that is accessible to you in your daily diet. Feed the healthy bacteria with the right amount of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids (found in oily fish). Reduce refined carbs like white bread, rice, and pasta. Rather than excluding them entirely, use them as treats or side dishes to your meal. Lastly, alcohol is a toxin as far as our body is concerned. If you are drinking more than your body is tailored for, it can affect gastric function negatively. Everything is manageable in moderation!