Menopause results in many changes within a woman's body, including disruptions in the gut. Evidence shows that reduced estrogen in menopausal women changes the gut microbiome (the types and amounts of bacteria in your digestive system.) Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes bacteria make up approximately 90% of your gut microbiome and are responsible for carbohydrate metabolism. They also participate in energy production and conversion, amino acid transport and metabolism, and production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). Maintaining Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes at the right balance in the gut is important.
In menopause, there is an increase in Firmicutes. The resultant imbalance in the microbiome increases inflammation, slows metabolism, and has been linked with obesity. These microbiome changes also are associated with multiple menopause-related symptoms to include weight gain, brain fog, and poor sleep quality.
In good news, simple changes in diet can restore the gut microbiome balance. Fruits and vegetables contain polyphenols, which have been shown to express prebiotic properties and exert anti-inflammatory properties. Be cautious about taking probiotics since different probiotics exert different effects on the Firmicutes/Bacteriodetes ratio and may make the situation worse.
Bottom line: menopausal women need to make special effort to eat fruits and vegetables in all colors of the rainbow and more often than during their reproductive years to maintain gut microbiome balance.
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