Exploring the Link Between PCOS and Gut Health: A Comprehensive Guide to Improving Your Well-being

I’m sure you’ve all heard that the gut is the second brain – and if you haven’t, you have now!

Although I am no gut expert, I have had my fair share of tummy troubles throughout my years and since my egg freezing stint the bloating game is reaaaaal.

I’ve learnt a lot about our long and windy colon – did you know 95% of serotonin is produced in the gut?!

Serotonin is our happy hormone, and with PCOS having a much higher risk of depression and anxiety – looking after our gut could really change the game in helping you feel happier every single day.

Interestingly, PCOS also shares several symptoms with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), such as bloating, abdominal pain, and changes in bowel habits.

When our body is inflamed that’s when all hell breaks loose, so just like PCOS, our gut likes a nice calm, anti-inflammatory environment.

Understanding the Gut Microbiome

What Are Microbes?

Microorganisms, or microbes, include bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other tiny living entities. They primarily reside in your intestines and on your skin, with a significant concentration in the cecum, a segment of the large intestine, collectively referred to as the gut microbiome.

There are approximately 40 trillion bacterial cells in the human body, outnumbering human cells (nut isn’t it?).

The gut microbiome hosts up to 1,000 bacterial species, each playing distinct roles, from essential health contributions to potential disease triggers. These microbes weigh between 2–5 pounds, akin to the weight of the human brain, functioning as a supplementary organ that wields significant influence over health.

Gut Microbiota or Flora

The gut microbiota exhibits less diversity compared to microbial communities in other body areas but shows notable functional redundancy. A comprehensive examination of the human gut microbiome has catalogued nearly 10 million genes, indicating the extensive role these microbes play.

This study also highlighted country-specific microbial signatures, suggesting environmental factors like diet and host genetics shape the gut microbiota. Despite compositional differences, microbiotas can share functional redundancy, resulting in comparable protein or metabolite profiles.

Gut Microbes and Human Health

Gut microbes influence various health aspects, including:

  • Nutrition: Assisting in breaking down complex food molecules and aiding nutrient absorption.
  • Immunity: Playing a critical role in the development of the immune system, possibly starting
    before birth.
  • Gut-Brain Axis: Communicating with the brain, influencing not only intestinal function but also psychological conditions like depression and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
  • Disease Development: Involvement in conditions like inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), obesity, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.

Disrupting the microbiota, for example through antibiotics, poor diet etc can lead to diseases, including antibiotic-resistant infections.

In short – looking after and having a healthy gut is imperative to feel good and thrive!

How PCOS Relates to Gut Health

Influencing Factors

Various factors influence the gut microbiome, such as dietary choices, sex hormones, sleep quality, geographical location, and body weight. Women with PCOS often exhibit less healthy dietary patterns and are more prone to being overweight or obese.

Gut Dysbiosis and PCOS

Recent hypotheses suggest an unhealthy diet can disrupt gut bacteria balance, leading to gut dysbiosis. This imbalance may make the gut lining more permeable, allowing harmful substances to enter the bloodstream, known as “leaky gut.” This can activate the immune system, interfere with insulin function, elevate insulin levels, increase male hormone production, and disrupt ovarian processes.

Common Gut Issues

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

IBS primarily manifests as abdominal pain, which can occur before or after bowel movements, along with diarrhoea, constipation, or a combination of both. Symptoms include bloating, white mucus in the stool, and a sense of incomplete bowel movements. Various factors, such as traumatic life events, mental health conditions, infections, or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), can contribute to IBS.

I personally believe they give everyone and anyone IBS who has gut issues, but its down to the fact the bowel is SO big and complex, they can’t actually figure out what the hell is wrong half the time.

Constipation

Characterised by infrequent or uncomfortable bowel movements, constipation involves passing small amounts of hard, dry stool less than three times a week.

Diarrhoea

Chronic diarrhoea often results from gut dysbiosis, where harmful bacteria surpass beneficial ones, disrupting normal digestive tract function.

Gas & Bloating

Excessive intestinal gas, especially after meals, can cause stomach pain and bloating, often indicating a digestive problem or food intolerance.

Abdominal Pain

Gut bacteria alterations are linked to painful gastrointestinal conditions and various forms of chronic pain. Researchers suggest modifying diet and incorporating specific probiotics to manage chronic pain.

GERD & Heartburn

GERD occurs when stomach contents move back up into the esophagus, causing symptoms like heartburn, acid reflux, chest pain, and nausea. Factors include certain medications, obesity, and smoking.

Leaky Gut Syndrome

Gut microbiota play crucial roles in digestion and immune support. An imbalance can lead to heightened intestinal permeability, contributing to leaky gut syndrome.

Tips to Improve Your Gut Health

  1. Regular Exercise: Stimulates the colon and promotes consistent bowel movements.
  2. Nutritious Diet: Focus on fresh, unprocessed foods to support digestive health. Think WHOLE foods, lots of veggies, lean proteins and nuts/seeds.
  3. Smaller, Frequent Meals: Prevents overwhelming the gastrointestinal tract.
  4. Thorough Chewing: Facilitates the digestive process.
  5. Stress Management: Activities like yoga and meditation can positively impact gut health.
  6. Probiotics: Incorporate kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut, or supplements to boost beneficial bacteria.
  7. Increase Fibre Intake: Aim for 25 grams daily.
  8. Hydration: Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily.
  9. Limit Alcohol and Caffeine: Both can disrupt digestion.
  10. Get rid of toxicity and stress: Both have been shown to increase stomach pain – if you’re around someone and they make you feel funky, literally listen to your gut – it’s giving you a sign!!

Talk to a Doctor or Healthcare Professional

Your gut microbiome, comprising trillions of microbes, significantly influences your health by regulating digestion and supporting the immune system. An imbalance can be linked to various disorders, so seeking professional help is crucial for boosting gut health and overall well-being.

A lot of what I coach and teach is linked to optimising gut health, as health for hormones is just the same as health for our gut. Through my personal experience and years of being obsessed with research and nutrition, I’ve helped many women with bloating, IBS, constipation and more.

Want to work together?

Struggling with PCOS, hormone issues, gut problems or generally just feeling down in the dumps?
Sometimes all we need is a helping hand from someone who actually understands your struggles and what you’re going through (not your GP just telling you to go home, lose weight or take a pill)

https://calendly.com/itsapcosparty/discoverycall – Book a call with me here if you’re serious about investing in your health – lifes too short to be feeling rank.

I’ve got you

G x

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