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How to improve gut health in women

What’s the secret to a happy healthy gut? At 4U Pilates, we believe taking a holistic approach to gut health is best. Our gut health can support our physical and mental health too, and when it comes to improving your movement and agility, we like to look at all areas.


WHY IS GUT HEALTH IMPORTANT?

The digestive system is the centre of our mental and physical health – it absorbs the nutrients we need for our immune system, brain function and energy production. An unhealthy gut can hinder how well we move, how we think, and how productive we are across our day - and even into our sleeping hours too.


FACT 70% of the bacteria in your gut wall support your immune system. Your gut also contains over 500 million neurons equivalent to the size and complexity of a cat's brain!!!


Technically-speaking, the gut connects to key areas such as the brain, vagus nerve and Enteric nervous system. The enteric nervous system is part of the peripheral nervous system, so to is the autonomic nervous system. You can learn more about this in this Food For Thought TEDx video.


The autonomic part of our central nervous system includes the sympathetic nervous system which mobilizes energy and resources during times of stress and arousal. It also includes our parasympathetic nervous system, which conserves energy and resources during relaxed states, including sleep. The autonomic nervous system is made of neurons connecting the CNS with internal organs.


The gut is a complicated place, it relies upon healthy bacteria - called our microbiome - as well as the multiple organs that makes up our digestive system. Research suggests that the bacteria living in our digestive tract plays a significant role in our overall health, with links to:


  • Anxiety

  • Autism

  • Colon cancer

  • Crohn’s disease

  • Depression

  • Diabetes

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

  • Obesity

  • Parkinson’s disease

  • Rheumatoid arthritis

  • Schizophrenia

  • Ulcerative colitis


You can read more about these links in this infographic published by the Huffington Post.



HOW DO HORMONES AFFECT GUT HEALTH?

The gut microbiome and our bodies’ hormones are also intrinsically linked. For example, the gut microbiome regulates oestrogen. The oestrogen regulating function of specific bacteria in the microbiome is called the “oestrobolome.”


The oestrobolome – regulates the amount of oestrogen circulating in the bloodstream through the creation of β-glucuronidase, an enzyme which breaks down oestrogen into to its 'free', or biologically active form.


Women experiencing perimenopause or the menopause may find changes within their gut health, which can be linked to changes in oestrogen production, as well as hormones such as progesterone, testosterone, cortisol, or adrenalin.