Eating for your gut microbiome can help you handle the challenges of menopause!

Your gut health is something that’s important to be cognizant of at every stage in your life. It’s one of the foundations of the overall health of your entire body! During menopause, however, when changing hormone balances throw everything in your system off-kilter, staying on top of your gut health becomes more important than ever. 


Your gut, like your hormone system, is deeply involved in the way you feel. The state of your digestive system affects you emotionally, chemically, and physically. The “gut microbiome,” or the thriving ecosystem of healthy bacteria that live in your digestive tract, changes in response to big changes in your body, and menopause is one of them. Paying attention to your digestive flora and taking care of your gut health can be beneficial to many women as they cope with the symptoms of menopause! Here’s how.

Menopause and Your Gut

So, your gut. Exactly what does it have to do with changes to your hormones and your reproductive system? As it turns out, quite a bit! Current research indicates that there is a connection between the microorganisms of your digestive system and your hormone levels, although the study of this phenomenon is still in its very early stages. 


There’s also a bit of a chicken-or-the-egg problem, as gut health and menopause can affect a lot of the same things, including weight, mood, cognition, strength, and mobility. Do these things change during menopause because menopause creates changes in the gut, or do these changes spark the alterations in your gut health? It’s too early to say, but one thing is clear– the gut flora and the hormone levels of menopause are definitely connected in some way, and anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that taking care of your gut health helps many menopausal women to gain better control over their symptoms!

Eating for Gut Health

There’s a small difference between simply eating healthy and eating for gut health specifically. Eating healthy takes into account all the systems of the body and the nutrients they need, while gut health zooms in and takes a closer look at what you can put into your body that will keep the thousands and thousands of bacteria in your digestive system happy. There’s a good amount of overlap between the two– eating for gut health usually means eating broadly healthy by default! However, when you’re trying to focus on your gut, there are some main factors to keep in mind.


First things first, your gut microbiome loves fiber. A fiber-rich diet is heaven for gut flora, which eat the soluble fiber you take in, while the insoluble fiber works to keep your digestive tract functioning like it should. Adding lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, dried fruits, nuts, seeds, and legumes to your diet will give your gut microbiome plenty to work with.


Many of us know the word probiotic and that it applies to foods like yogurt and sauerkraut, but fewer people actually know what the term means. Probiotic foods actually contain living bacteria and microorganisms of their own– this is why fermented foods are usually considered probiotic. Adding these foods to your diet helps keep up the population of bacteria in your gut. Adding things like tempeh, kimchi, kombucha, kefir, and other fermented foods to your diet is a good step towards maintaining your gut health. It’s good to look for labels that advertise “live cultures,” as this means the bacteria in the food are still alive and ready to go to work.


Probiotics and prebiotics– what’s the difference? Essentially, probiotics bring more good bacteria into your system, and prebiotics give them their very best source of food, mostly nutrient-dense soluble fiber. Prebiotic foods like asparagus, bananas, oatmeal, artichokes, onions, garlic, and leeks are delicacies for your gut microbiome, giving them the fuel they need to thrive and maintain a steady balance.

Hormone Replacement Therapy for Menopause

Addressing your gut health through your diet can have a positive ripple effect on the health of your entire body, especially during a turbulent time like menopause. For some women, however, this still isn’t enough. Seeking out other means of addressing your menopausal symptoms, like hormone replacement therapy, can often be a helpful option that lets you get the most out of lifestyle changes like eating for your gut microbiome. You can learn more about this option here!

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