#4.4 Gut Health

GUT HEALTH is a term we have heard so much more about over the past few years but there is still so much more to be learnt about the importance of it. Like many aspects of nutrition there are many differing opinions on the best way to support our gut health. New research is constantly coming out and influences the advice that is being given.

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However, there is clear evidence that improving the health of your gut is really important at menopause because maintaining healthy gut bacteria also aids hormonal balance.

The gut also has strong links with the immune system, the brain and nervous system. Ensuring good gut health should be one of our priorities in midlife.

It’s easy to spend ages obsessing about diet and making things unnecessarily complicated but when it comes down to it we just need to stick to the basics of eating real food. We need to have plenty of variety in our vegetables & fruits, drink plenty of water and if we follow some simple rules we can help to support our gut health too.

Let’s look at what can go wrong with our gut, why it can happen and what we can do about it!


The surface area of our intestines is enormous, around the size of a tennis court, so it’s a huge area to keep healthy! A healthy gut lining ensures that digested food particles, bacteria and other toxins do not make their way into the blood stream which can contribute to inflammation.

Leaky Gut Syndrome is when the gut lining leaks. This can be caused by stress, some medications (such as antibiotics), excessive use of over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs, poor nutritional choices and certain vitamin deficiencies.

Associated symptoms of Leaky Gut Syndrome

• Inflammation
• Food intolerances
• Irritable bowel syndrome
• Poor immunity
• Joint pain
• Weight gain
• Skin problems
• Thyroid dysfunction
• Liver disease
• Brain fog
• Auto immune diseases
• Bloating/ diarrhoea / nausea
• Headaches
• Type 2 diabetes


The Estrobolome is a term used to describe a collection of bacteria in our gut responsible for metabolising oestrogens that circulate our body, having an affect on oestrogen levels. The body needs to excrete excess oestrogens that may become harmful but if the bacteria is disrupted (dysbiosis) this may not happen.

We also need our Liver to be healthy. We should have healthy bowel movements and avoid inflammation within the body.

What can affect the Estrobolome?

• Age & ethnicity
• Lifetime environmental influences
• The way you were delivered (at birth)
• Diet
• Alcohol
• Antibiotic use
• Exercise
• Sleep


As always, there is so much advice available and if you feel you need specialist help do seek the advice of your health provider or explore the possibility of seeing a nutritionist who specialises in gut health.

You may identify with something in the following that may be relevant to you. However it’s best to try out one individual area at a time so that you can identify what may be relevant to you;

  • Identify food intolerances - gluten & dairy primarily. Try eliminating for a few weeks then add back in for a few days
  • Take a look at your diet and consider whether there are improvements you could begin to make
  • Manage your stress levels. The impact on digestive health is huge. This includes stressing about food!
  • Consider whether the eating of meat may be having an impact on you. Meat can contain antibiotics which will be making their way into our own system
  • Consider medications. Anti-inflammatory medication / Antibiotics/ Proton Pump Inhibitors prescribed for acid reflux and other medications may impact your gut health.
  • Ensure you are taking regular exercise
  • Address your sleep if you know you need to
  • Cut down on alcohol if you know you need to


Increase your intake of Pre and probiotics. Probiotics are the good bacteria while Prebiotics are the good bacteria promoters. They work in synergy with each other, so your gut needs both of them to keep your gastrointestinal tract healthy.

Sources of Pre biotics

Onions, Garlic, Leeks, Oats, Dark green leafy veg
Turmeric & ginger
Apples, Asparagus, Artichokes, Bananas, Flaxseeds, Berries

Sources of Pro biotics

Fermented foods such as
Yoghurt (unsweetened live), Kefir, Sauerkraut, Tempeh, Kimchi, Miso, Kombucha

Consider practicing Yoga for digestive health
Twists for constipation
Restorative poses for sleep

Use food as Menopausal medicine
Consider what to eat what to avoid, for example alcohol stresses the liver, contains empty calories, disrupts sleep, promotes weight gain and can trigger vasomotor symptoms. Try to notice food and drink triggers that are personal to you.

Add in medicinal foods
You can affect your health through practicing good nutrition!

Find some great recipe ideas, share them with friends and family, work out what you enjoy eating and what you can replace poor choices with.

Explore the Mediterranean way of eating which is proven to be one of the healthiest diets! (see more detail in this section)

Eat more and as many different types of plants as you can - ’Eat the Rainbow’ ie have as many different coloured vegetables as you can and try something new each week!
Consider TRF (Time Restricted Feeding) - Eating within a 10 hour window has proven to help control weight. Also avoid snacking as this all helps to give the gut a rest.

Eat fibre to aid good bowel movements! This will aid excess oestrogen excretion and help to keep your blood sugar steady. Most of the population in the UK only eat around half of the recommended amount of fibre!

Make soups with whole vegetables to add plenty of extra fibre to your diet. Juicing is great but consider that much of the fibre will be wasted so juice wisely! Note – bran can interfere with calcium absorption so don’t make this a major source of fibre in your diet

Make sure your diet is rich is polyphenols which contain antioxidants
Some good sources of Polyphenols

• Berries
• Cocoa powder and dark chocolate
• Plums, sweet cherries & apples
• Nuts such as hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans and almonds
• Vegetables such as artichokes, red onions, chicory and spinach
• Coffee and black or green tea
• Red wine
• Olives

If you know you need to, increase your fluid intake with plenty of water. This will aid bowel movements which is also essential for good gut health. Supporting your gut health can certainly go a long way to improving many aspects of your health and wellbeing!