Nov 08 2015

Women’s Health and The Gut

Published by at 12:58 pm under Womens Health

Women’s health and the gut
Part One: Getting to the heart of the matter when it comes to women’s health.

Women’s health issues are unique. They are unique in how they come to be, present themselves and are treated. Of these health issues, a majority are directly related to a woman’s diet and nutrition, lifestyle choices and the condition of her microbiome. Genetic factors aside, many health conditions can be curtailed, minimized and even avoided just by making lifestyle and diet changes. Even if it means starting today, making the right changes can put you on a path towards a healthier future and a life of longevity. An improved quality of life can be enjoyed at all ages, and well into your senior years.(1,2)*

There are certain health conditions that women especially need to pay close attention to, including heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, cancer and memory loss. Many women don’t believe they are susceptible, but as age creeps up on them, they find they are. Other conditions that are unique to women are menopause and vaginal yeast infections. With the proper nutrition and paying close attention to keeping an optimal balance of friendly bacteria in the microbiome, women can keep their bodies healthy despite the passing years *

One of the most important things women can do to prevent disease of most kinds is avoid putting on extra pounds, and if already overweight, get on a plan to lose them!. According to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, more than 65 percent of women in the US are overweight or obese. Carrying extra pounds is a risk factor for most chronic diseases affecting women.2*

Over the next three weeks, we will look at various health issues affecting women (and yes, they affect men too…just differently). Don’t worry men, we will examine those health issues specific to you next!

Heart disease

Historically, heart attacks were thought to affect mainly men so women often miss the warning signs because they don’t think it could happen to them. But this is no longer true. It is essential for women to manage their weight, blood pressure, diet, cholesterol and glucose levels. All of these things are key to maintaining long-term heart health. Regular exercise, especially the heart thumping, sweaty kind that really raises your heart rate is important. When we exercise, blood vessels dilate which helps them to remain healthy and improves endothelial function, (the vasodilation and vasoconstriction of the inner lining of blood vessels). Additionally, it improves circulation, which is key to good heart health and proper oxygenation of the entire body, including the brain. A plant based, organic diet and a healthy gut microbiome all are important to maintaining a healthy heart. (1,2,4)*

Women can mistake heart attack symptoms for menopausal symptoms as some are similar. These include shortness of breath, heart palpitations or an irregular heartbeat, night sweats, chills, dizziness or feeling faint and extreme fatigue. Other signs to look for are heartburn or indigestion, chest pain, tightness or pressure in the center of the chest lasting more than a few minutes, discomfort or a heavy feeling in one or both arms, (usually the left), pain in the back (particularly between the shoulder blades or neck), as well as in the jaw or stomach. Regular checkups with your health care practitioner, especially if you have any of the indications mentioned here, are important to manage heart health.(1,2,3)*

Hypertension is also a risk factor for women, as is high cholesterol. Weight management, proper nutrition and exercise are essential for controlling both these conditions as well. Research suggests that consuming probiotics on a regular basis can help with the regulation of high blood pressure and maintain healthy blood pressure levels.5*

“We believe probiotics might help lower blood pressure by having other positive effects on health, including improving total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, cholesterol; reducing blood glucose and insulin resistance; and by helping to regulate the hormone system that regulates blood pressure and fluid balance,” according to Jing Sun, Ph.D., lead author and senior lecturer at the Griffith Health Institute and School of Medicine, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. 5*

Researchers examined results from nine “high-quality studies” on blood pressure and probiotic consumption. The studies involved more than 500 adults with normal and elevated blood pressure and found the following:

“…Probiotic consumption lowered systolic blood pressure (the top number) by an average 3.56 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and diastolic blood pressure (the lower number) by an average 2.38 mm Hg, compared to adults who didn’t consume probiotics.

-The positive effects from probiotics on diastolic blood pressure were greatest in people whose blood pressure was equal to or greater than 130/85, which is considered elevated.

-Consuming probiotics for less than eight weeks didn’t lower systolic or diastolic blood pressure.

-Probiotic consumption with a daily bacteria volume of 109-10 12 colony-forming units (CFU) may improve blood pressure. Consumption with less than 109 CFU didn’t lower blood pressure.

-Probiotics with multiple bacteria lowered blood pressure more than those with a single bacteria…”5*

Maintaining a healthy microbiome is at the center of a woman’s heart health. A healthy gut allows the body to better absorb nutrients and keep glucose, insulin and hormone levels balanced. Additionally, a healthy gut helps in weight management. Good bacteria feed off of the good foods we put in our bodies, whereas the unfriendly feed off the bad foods like sugar. If your gut is full of unfriendly bacteria, an ugly cycle is in place as your body will crave the wrong kinds of foods to keep it in its unhealthy state.6*

You have one body, one beating heart and one life to live. Treat yourself in the best way possible. You must think of your body as a temple and not corrupt it with toxins and chemicals, but nourish it with the energy providing foods it needs to function at its optimum. A healthy gut, healthy weight and glucose levels ensure your heart is working at its best and not overworking as when carrying extra weight or fighting against clogged arteries.

Next week we will look at other health issues to which women need to pay close attention and the role a healthy gut plays to keep them in check

Here’s to a long and healthy life! Until next week,




  2. Southwest magazine, October 2015

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