Maintaining a healthy gut is essential for all of us. Believe it or not, our gut health is actually very closely linked to our immunity, which makes it all the more important for us to keep up — especially for women!
Did you know that women have a more sensitive tract than men? This means that women are often more prone to IBS and other digestive issues than men, and, because of the added sensitivity, might experience worse or more intense symptoms.
In addition to that, the gut microbiome affects regular estrogen production. And when there’s an excess or a deficiency of estrogen, it may increase the risk of developing hormone-related issues and diagnoses, such as PCOS, endometriosis, and even breast cancer!
In short, maintaining and improving gut health is incredibly vital to women, maybe more than anyone! But where to start?
Ladies, here’s how to improve gut health naturally and how to restore healthy gut flora so you can stay on top of your game as the strong, independent woman that you are!
Our gut is made up of a complex and diverse environment of microflora and microorganisms, or microbes called a microbiome. This microbiome consists of billions of bacteria, fungi, and viruses that keep our digestive tract happy and well-functioning. And don’t worry, most (if not all) of these microbes are actually quite good for us and an asset to our overall health!
They help us metabolize food, strengthen our immune system, and even enhance our nervous system and brain function! And for women specifically, a healthy gut not only means a smooth digestion or better immunity. As we mentioned earlier, a thriving gut microbiome can affect our hormones and the risk of developing digestive disorders. But that’s not all. A less diverse or unbalanced microbiome could increase your risk of UTI. Studies have shown that when there isn’t enough good bacteria in your gut, it could cause the rest of the bacteria to multiply and spread to other parts of your body, including your bladder.
A well-balanced gut microbiome has also been linked to vaginal health. Just like how having more “bad” bacteria can affect our chances of getting UTI, the number of good microflora in our gut may influence the microbiome in our vagina.
But don’t let any of that worry you just yet! Here’s how to restore healthy gut flora and maintain the microbiome in your gut!
When it comes to restoring gut flora, probiotics work best! But what exactly are probiotics?
Probiotics are made up of live microorganisms and can help restore balance to a disproportionate microbiome by adding more good bacteria into your system. Plus, a number of other benefits, namely:
● Boost immunity
● Promote healthy metabolism and digestion
● Reduce the risk of UTI, yeast infections, and diarrhea
● Improve skin health and appearance
● May increase fertility
Natural probiotics for women can be found in plenty of fermented foods, the most popular being yogurt. But you can also find probiotics in some other rare faves, such as sourdough bread, kefir, kimchi, kombucha, and miso. Other than that, probiotic supplements are another viable source for just the right amount of live bacteria you need.
The best probiotics for women should contain at least 1 billion colony-forming units, or CFU, which means that these microorganisms have the ability to divide and produce colonies of their own. They should also contain a diverse set of probiotics, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and others.
American Health Probiotic Acidophilus contains 1 billion live cultures of bacteria that’ll leave your gut feeling better than it was before. (Plus, it’s a delicious strawberry-flavoured treat!) Or, if you’re looking for a quick short-term cleanse, Renew Life Probiotics, Ultimate Flora, 200 Billion has more than enough CFU to keep your gut microbiome healthy and thriving.
So now you know about probiotics. What about prebiotics? Is there really that much of a difference?
The answer is: yes, there is!
While probiotics replenish the bacteria in our gut, prebiotics act as food for any already existing cultures of probiotic bacteria. As simple as that! While we might need probiotics more for restoring our gut microbiome, we need prebiotics for sustaining a healthy microbiome.
Other than aiding our gut and digestion, there are a number of other prebiotic benefits worth mentioning, such as enhancing immune function, managing blood sugar levels, stimulating appetite, and regulating energy expenditure.
A prebiotic fiber supplement, such as Renew Life Fiber Powder, is one of the best ways to get your daily dose of prebiotics.
Just like the gut, the vagina has its own delicate microbiome of bacteria that keeps it clean and balanced. And likewise, we need to maintain a good balance of bacteria in our vagina so we don’t experience common infections or other health issues. In fact, our vagina’s ability to clean itself is all thanks to the millions of Lactobacilli in it! A well-balanced vaginal microbiome can also prevent or lower the risk of yeast infections, STIs, pelvic inflammatory disease, and complications during pregnancy.
What can affect the cultures of Lactobacilli in our vagina? It’s safe to assume that anything you put in it has the potential to change your vagina’s pH and good bacteria levels. Everything from female hygiene products (tampons, menstrual cups, etc,) to antibiotics, unprotected sex, and even your own period blood could disrupt the microbiome balance.
Maintaining a healthy pH balance in the female body is essential to keeping our vaginal microbiome full of Lactobacilli, so don’t take yours for granted! Here are some natural remedies to restore pH balance and keep your vaginal microbiome thriving.
First, here are a few general tips on how to balance vaginal pH that you can start on right away!
● Avoid vaginal douching and manually clean the inside of the vagina: As we mentioned earlier, the vagina is self-cleaning, meaning that it’s perfectly fine if we leave it alone and let it take care of itself! Hygiene products like cleansers and feminine wash might be good in specific situations, but definitely not every day or regularly. In fact, they may even harm the delicate pH balance of our vagina, making it less acidic, and thus more prone to infections. So when in doubt, it’s actually best not to do anything! Rest assured — it’s much cleaner that way.
● Always use protection: Obviously an STI, or any vaginal infection, will impact our pH balance. But male semen has the potential to disrupt the pH balance of the vagina as well because of its alkaline make-up. To reduce the risk of all of these issues, use protection.
● Don’t wear a tampon for more than 8 hours: When you wear a tampon for too long, it can become a breeding ground for bad bacteria. Always remember to change your feminine hygiene products every few hours, whether you prefer using tampons, pads, or menstrual cups.
● Be picky about your underwear: In the same vein as the above, having soft, clean, breathable underwear is another easy way to keep your vaginal pH balanced. Wear underwear that’s made from a hypoallergenic, breathable material that wicks away sweat and moisture. Always change your underwear daily. This is especially true if you are struggling with an active infection!
Candida is a type of yeast or fungus that’s usually found in our skin, mouth, throat, gut, and vagina. It’s usually harmless, but a candida infection can occur with a pH imbalance, causing it to spread and grow more than the usual amount, which is never a good thing.
A candida cleanse is just what it sounds like: it’s meant to reduce the amount of candida, yeast, and bad bacteria in our body before they get too out of control. A candida cleanser usually consists of cutting out food with sugar, white flour, yeast, and cheese from your diet, which are all foods believed to encourage an overgrowth of candida. A cleansing supplementation program is another wonderful and completely natural way to regulate not just candida, but also your general bacterial yeast levels.
If you suspect you have a candida overgrowth or are struggling with recurring yeast infections, we recommend connecting with your doctor or naturopath. It is possible to develop systemic candidiasis, which can actually contribute to significant health issues.
But as always, prevention and protection are always better! The easiest way to keep your vaginal microbiome healthy is by maintaining balanced pH levels. Too much of either good or bad bacteria will throw that balance off-kilter and cause potential issues with not just your vaginal health, but even your digestive, urinary, and reproductive health. Here’s how you can keep a good pH balance in the female body, as well as natural remedies to restore pH balance.
Ideally, vaginal pH should be moderately acidic, meaning around 3.8 to 4.5. If it goes over 7, which makes it more alkaline, it could encourage more bad bacterial growth.
As we all know by now, having more probiotics in our diet could increase the amount of Lactobacilli in our body, and that should be no different for the vaginal microbiome. Other than probiotics, UTI BFF is one of the best supplements for vaginal health because it contains d-mannose, a kind of sugar that supports both vaginal and urinary tract health.
Stress can also negatively affect us in many ways, including our pH levels. Finding ways to destress doesn’t just help you mentally, but physically as well.
Other than what’s in our gut, we have to be aware of what’s protecting the inside of our gut as well. The lining of our gut acts as a protective barrier between the bacteria outside and inside our stomach. Think of it as one of our body’s first lines of defence against infections and invaders. One way to improve gut health is by taking care of our gut lining.
You probably know collagen for its amazing benefits for our skin, bones, and joints, but collagen and gut health work wonderfully together! Collagen contains amino acids, like glycine and glutamine, which help to strengthen our gut lining and preserve its integrity. Collagen can repair a damaged gut lining, soothe inflammation, and relieve symptoms of the leaky gut syndrome.
Inflammation might be fine at first, but too much isn’t healthy or pleasant. Inflammation can be a symptom of many health issues, including gastritis, which in turn can lead to more serious gut complications like ulcers.
Turmeric for inflammation is a common home remedy, and for good reason! Turmeric contains curcumin, which is famed for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It can also help soothe occasional pain, aches, and stiffness. If it can do it for the rest of your body, then it can do it for your gut lining and microbiome too!
Turmeric supplements that were made to soothe inflammation, like Terry Naturally Curamin Extra Strength, are one surefire way to get rid of inflammation before it gets out of hand.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that women have it tough in a lot of areas of life. Don’t let one of those areas be your own health! Our gut health is incredibly important for the rest of our body, especially for women. Always stay at your best with these easy and effective ways to improve gut health.
If you’re still unsure, ask a trusted healthcare professional or visit your favorite healthy nutrition store for more information.
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