If you’ve been reading my content recently you’ll probably be aware of some of the main benefits of having a healthy gut – less bloating and GI issues, reduced inflammation, better mental health, glowing skin, and even weight loss and higher metabolism. But the benefits of healing your gut are even more wide-reaching than that.
In this week’s Friday Five I’m highlighting some of the lesser-known benefits that you will experience when you heal your gut:
- More Energy: compromised gut health can have a hugely negative effect on our energy levels for a number of reasons. Firstly, when we are unable to digest and absorb the food and supplements we consume we will be unable to provide our cells with the enzymes and co-factors (amino acids, vitamins, and minerals) needed to make ATP, our energy ‘currency’. Secondly, the bacteria in the gut is actually responsible for making some of our B vitamins, which have specific roles in energy production.
- Less Stress: we know that stress can cause both dysbiosis (imbalance of gut bacteria) and intestinal permeability (leaky gut), but it can work in the opposite direction also. ‘Bad’ gut bacteria can release metabolites, toxins, and neurohormones that can alter our eating behavior and our mood. An imbalanced microbiome may also up-regulate the production of cortisol (our stress hormone) and increase our risk of depression and anxiety.
- Better Sleep: again, we know that poor sleep can negatively affect our gut health, but this is also bio-directional. Studies show that a lack of diversity in the microbiome can affect the quality of our sleep and that diets high in fiber and probiotics can improve it. Additionally, our microbiome plays an important role in our circadian rhythm, the sleep/wake cycle that gives us energy in the morning and makes us feel sleepy at night.
- Higher Libido: if you are feeling bloated and gassy, getting intimate is probably going to be the last thing on your mind. But compromised gut health has more of a role to play in your libido than just GI symptoms, an unhealthy gut will not be producing the right amount of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a huge role in sexual desire, will not produce adequate oxytocin, the hormone that makes us want to get close to someone, and can even cause higher occurrences of UTI’s.
- Easier Menopause: healing your gut can help minimize menopause symptoms in a number of different ways. Firstly, a healthy weight and BMI can reduce hot flashes, as can lowering inflammation at the gut level. Additionally, there is a specific set of bacteria (around 60 types) that live in the gut that are responsible for estrogen metabolism. If you are not breaking down, metabolizing, and detoxifying estrogen at the gut level this can lead to menopause symptoms such as hot flashes, anxiety, irritability, anger, and depression.