What are friendly bacteria?
There are hundreds of different kinds of bacteria in our guts and groups of them have very specific duties to perform such as supporting our immune system, manufacturing nutrients from our foods, helping with elimination, dealing with pathogens (the bad guys) and also helping to balance our hormones.
Our gut flora is made up of tens of trillions of bacteria and in total these bacteria can weigh up to 2kg, making them our largest organ.
So why are friendly bacteria needed in the menopause?
Some bacteria can ‘manufacture’ phyto-oestrogens from foods that contain lignans. Now all you really need to know about lignans is that they are present in most natural foods, such as vegetables, fruits, healthy grains, nuts and seeds and legumes such as lentils and beans. These phyto-oestrogens are then re-absorbed into your bloodstream.
So, if you have healthy bacteria and eat healthy foods you are getting a regular ‘dose’ of phyto-oestrogens that really help to support your hormones and keep your oestrogen levels nicely balanced. Remember, fluctuating/falling oestrogen is one of the major triggers for a whole heap of menopause symptoms!
But, and this is a HUGE but, there are so many things which can interfere with your friendly bacteria and negate this process.
Here is a little list of potential hazards:
- Antibiotic use – even from years and years ago
- Digestive problems such as IBS
- Processed foods
- Food Poisoning
As you can see there are lots and lots of things that can damage and destroy our lovely little helpers. So what can you do to help yourself?
So what can you do to help yourself?
Your friendly bacteria like a very specific environment in the gut, and if this changes even slightly the good guys go and baddies move in – baddies that can cause bloating, wind, constipation, Candida and other digestive disorders. The gut is a little like a garden: in order to grow beautiful flowers you need to weed and fertilise the soil and get it just right. Similarly, your gut needs to be just right for the good guys.
One of the best ways to do this is to take Molkosan. This contains L+ lactic acid which your friendly bacteria just loves and when taken with a probiotic, can have a positive regulating effect on gut flora.
Your diet in the menopause is really, really important, as you can see. Eating plenty of natural foods is going to not only going to feed the good guys but also help them to provide you with the phyto-oestrogens that are vital in the menopause.
I often recommend Molkosan and a good probiotic as a starting point in getting to grips with menopausal symptoms, and research has also shown that having good bacteria in the gut has a positive effect on mood, immune function and general health – so it is well worth encouraging them to hang around!
Friendly bacteria and vaginal health
Friendly bacteria are also really important for vaginal health in the menopause. An imbalance or lack can contribute to vaginal dryness, irritation and infection, so a double reason to keep the good guys happy!
Optibac have now brought out a new probiotic specifically for women prone to thrush, cystitis and bacterial vaginosis.