We asked Lydia Irving, Holistic Nutritionist and Health Coach to share her incredible knowledge with us around all things gut health and how it plays a crucial role in influencing hormone balance and the health of our periods. Let’s get into it…
Gut & Hormones
How does gut health impact hormones? Is it important to consider your microbiome when it comes period problems, skin issues and low energy?
Okay – big question. How doesn’t it!? Our gut is a delicate system whereby we absorb and make nutrients essential for building hormones. Our gut is how we detox a lot of hormones we no longer need after we have used them, thats where they leave us – out our poop. Leaky gut is linked to thyroid health issues and if our thyroid is out this will impact our sex hormones.
YES YES YES! Our microbiome is essential. It is all the bacteria, fungi, yeast, parasites that inhabit our body, namely our gut. I love talking about these little critters that decide our WHOLE health.
Our microbiome is us and they are determined by the food we eat. A healthy microbiome is a diverse flourishing rainforest of different species. There are some great new studies that link different types of bacteria inhabiting our colon and our uterus to endometriosis. Skin issues, period problems and low energy are not separate conditions – it’s more often than not stemming from one condition presenting as various symptoms. The microbiome is not the ONLY factor to think about but if you ignore your bugs you’ll only get so far with your hormonal health.
How do we know if we have a healthy gut or not?
Such a common question – I often think about what old mentor told me which is hilarious and but without doing expensive tests its this: How does your breath, farts and poo smell? Hahaha. If they smell unpleasant (now poo will never smell like roses 😉 but we all know what a really unpleasant poo smells like… right?!) then this is a sign that your gut bugs are out of whack and if they’re out of whack everything else is out of whack.
Bad breath tells us you most likely have low stomach acid, which allows bacterias we don’t want to flourish where we don’t want them. Fowl smelling farts (I’m giggling too don’t worry!) means you’re not breaking down your food and its essential fermenting in your colon where you don’t want it to. Some other things to look for with healthy gut – no skin issues, daily bowel motions that feel complete, no bloating, no indigestion, no intolerances and best of all NO BRAIN FOG. To name a few… OR you can pay the cash for a Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis.
If someone doesn't know where to start when it comes to healing their gut, what would you recommend for their first steps?
Literally step 1. cut out preservatives! Even the gluten free, vegan preservatives! Preservatives kill bacteria, we are mostly bacteria (10% human is great book to get you understanding this).
If your food doesn’t go off don’t eat it – and Im not saying eat off food haha. If you are in a position where you can eat more organic foods or at least not sprayed foods DO THIS! Glyphosate is in roundup which is put on our growing produce to KILL BACTERIA, when we eat glyphosate foods they inhibit the function of our gut bugs – and if we are our gut bugs… then they are harming us.
Don’t worry if you have no way of eating unsprayed foods – fermentation and increasing the acid in your stomach with bitters and sours really are a great help to making your body combat glyphosate. Also looking after your nutritional deficiencies.
What is the difference between a prebiotics, probiotics and digestive enzymes?
It can get confusing, should women be taking any or all of these?
Pre(before)Bio(life)ics and Pro(for)Bio(life)ics – so basically prebiotics meaning ‘before life’ are food for the bacteria and probiotics meaning ‘for life’ are living beneficial microorganisms. Digestive enzymes are not bacteria but the stuff that hangs out in our stomach/gallbladder/pancreas/small intestine breaking down our food.
Treatment is so individualised, if you have a severe gut problem then I would use specific probiotics and specific digestive enzymes for a period of time as a type of medicine. Please don’t buy any old probiotic supplement, the strain is so specific you really need to know what is what for what – also a lot could be dead. You don’t need to use a supplement to get prebiotics, its fibre and yes you need to be eating lots of fibre! I am a huge fan of using food as medicine, so start there but if you have severe gut troubles
What are the best foods for gut health, and what are the worst?
The best would be foods that have been prepared in a way that makes them more digestible! I realise that’s an annoying answer… I know you all just want to hear, CHOCOLATE is the best haha! What I mean by that is using fermentation, soaking, cooking and keeping raw certain foods based on what is needed for you to access their nutrient in your gut. So for example: slow cooked meat vs fried meat or cooked mushrooms vs raw or raw lemon on squeezed on fish…Every whole food that is of nature has beneficial aspects to support gut health. The worst food for your gut is made in a factory using loads of preservatives, thickeners, sugar and made from ingredients that have been grown sprayed in glyphosate. So with that in mind chocolate does have the potential to be good for your guts – Moonbox raw hot Luna's Lover cacao anyone??
About Lydia: As a qualified nutritionist (BHSc) I follow the naturopathic philosophies to health, caring for mind, body, and spirit. My aim is to uncover the underlying causes of disease and offer therapeutic treatments which support the human body’s innate ability to heal. I offer private consultations to help understand and heal your body in a supportive environment.
I am also available for workshops across the east coast of Australia, specialising in gut health and fermentation.