You might wonder what the heck your gut has to do with your hormones and ovaries.  Well, in recent years, a growing body of Scientific research has been highlighting the importance of gut health and gut bacteria to overall health.  Personally, I have found that patients have the best results with PCOS when they do a gut healing program as part of treatment.

Research suggests that poor gut health may be an underlying cause of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).  It is thought that bacterial imbalance in the gut (also known as dysbiosis) leads to inflammation.  Chronic inflammation has been identified to be present in a majority of PCOS patients.  Inflammation affects the way our cells respond to insulin, causing insulin resistance.  As discussed earlier, insulin resistance leads to increased androgens and PCOS symptoms.

how can gut bacteria protect us from PCOS?

Beneficial gut bacteria produce substances that strengthen our gut lining and preserve the barrier between our intestines and our bloodstream.  They also help prevent the overgrowth of potentially harmful bacteria by creating an environment that is unfavourable for them.  When our beneficial bacteria decrease in numbers, dysbiosis occurs and our intestinal barrier becomes weakened.  This may allow bacteria, proteins and large molecules to pass through to our blood where they interact with immune cells, causing inflammation.  

3 steps to good gut health

1. Remove aggravating factors

Harmful bacteria thrive on sugar and refined carbohydrates.  Diets high in food additives and diets that contain large amounts of protein coupled with low fibre can result in excess toxic by-products being produced in the bowel.  Furthermore, beneficial bacteria hate alcohol, processed food and sugar.  Just another reason to follow a low sugar, whole food diet with plenty of veggies!  Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen damage your gut lining and need to be removed too.

2. Restore beneficial bacteria

Our beneficial bacteria love fibre such as that from vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruit, whole grains and legumes.  Include an abundance of these foods in your diet daily.  Particularly vegetables.  You should aim for 2 cups of leafy greens plus 3-5 half-cups of colourful veg per day!  Eat some cooked and some raw.  Add in 2 pieces of fruit, a handful of raw nuts & seeds and 1-2 cups of whole grains such as brown basmati rice, oats, buckwheat, millet and quinoa.  Build up your fibre intake slowly and chew your food thoroughly to avoid excess gas. 

You can also reintroduce beneficial bacteria through eating probiotic foods such as live sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir and yoghurt.  Introduce one type of probiotic food at a time, in small amounts, slowly increasing each day.

3. Repair your gut lining

Repair your gut lining with healing foods such as cabbage, bone broth, Aloe vera juice, stewed apples, cinnamon and turmeric (see this post for a golden turmeric milk recipe).

When to get extra guidance  

If you suffer from IBS, bloating, reflux, pain, constipation, diarrhoea or autoimmune disease then you may need extra help.  See your Naturopath for guidance to:

  • Identify food intolerances or allergies.
  • Assess whether you need a helping hand with herbal antimicrobials to reduce the numbers of harmful bacteria.
  • Enhance the breakdown and digestion of foods.
  • Assist the repopulation with good bacteria by prescribing an appropriate probiotic supplement.  Probiotic supplements are particularly important if you have had antibiotics recently.
  • Ramp up the gut healing phase with powerful herbs and nutrients.

Gut bacteria are not the only way to decrease inflammation.  We can calm inflammation through eating a low inflammatory diet.  I'll be talking about that in my next post.

All the best on your health journey,

Josephine

For a comprehensive treatment solution and access to an exclusive support section, including email support from Josephine, get The PCOS Solution.

References

Bjarnason, I & Takeuchi, K 2009, ‘Intestinal permeability in the pathogenesis of NSAID-induced enteropathy’, Journal of Gastroenterology, vol. 44, no. SUPPL. 19, pp. 23–29, <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19148789>.

Duleba, A & Dokras, A 2012, ‘Is PCOS an inflammatory process?’, Fertility and sterility, vol. 91, no. 1, pp. 7–12, <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22192135>.

Gonzalez, F 2012, ‘Inflammation in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Underpinning of insulin resistance and ovarian dysfunction’, Steroids, vol. 77, no. 4, pp. 300–305, <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3309040/>.

Hawrelak, J a & Myers, SP 2004, ‘The causes of intestinal dysbiosis: a review.’, Alternative medicine review : a journal of clinical therapeutic, vol. 9, no. 2, pp. 180–97, <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15253677>.

Liu, J & Zhang, D 2012, ‘[The role of oxidative stress in the pathogenesis of polycystic ovary syndrome].’, Sichuan Da Xue Xue Bao Yi Xue Ban, vol. 43, no. 2, pp. 187–190, <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22650028>.

Tremellen, K & Pearce, K 2012, ‘Dysbiosis of Gut Microbiota (DOGMA)--a novel theory for the development of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.’, Elsevier Ltd, Medical hypotheses, vol. 79, no. 1, pp. 104–12, viewed 24 September 2013, <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/>. 

 

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