Did You Know That Your Gut Health and Your Pelvic Floor Impact One Another?
Our gut is so complex that it is often referred to as our “second brain.”
Your gut microbiota (gut flora) is the name given to the huge microbe population living in your intestine. It contains tens of trillions of microorganisms with around 1000 different types of bacteria. They are essential for food digestion, the production of Vitamin K & B, supports the immune system and fight off other ‘bad’ microorganisms that have entered our bodies. Our gut microbiota starts to develop after we are born and evolves as we grow.
If your gut microbiome is not balanced then dysbiosis can occur. This can occur because of alcohol misuse, unbalanced/unhealthy diet, misuse of certain medications or drugs and antibiotics. This in turn can lead to health problems such as bowel disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, allergies, obesity, diabetes, anxiety, depression and autoimmune diseases (to name a few).
The brain has many neurotransmitters and the two most commonly known are serotonin and norepinephrine. They play a huge role in depression and anxiety. FACT - Over 90% of serotonin (a chemical our nerve cells produce – sometimes referred as the ‘happy chemical’) is manufactured in the gut. Serotonin regulates appetite, sleep, memory, learning and our moods. If our ‘brain gut’ is fed unhealthy foods this can cause inflammation in the gut which leads to depression, anxiety and a host of other emotional symptoms.
Dr. David Perlmutter connects the dots in his book - Brain Maker, coinciding with other experts who suggest that the microbiome, the balance of good and bad bacteria, is responsible for inflammation. Definitely worth a read.
Therefore, it’s important to have a healthy gut in order to have happy thoughts!
Prebiotics and probiotics have shown to benefit our gut microbiota. They serve as good foods to help the ‘good’ bacteria grow and keep the gut microbiota balanced.
Remember, if you take antibiotics, you must take probiotics to balance it up. Also, eating fermented foods are a great way of getting good bacteria in. My favourites are kefir, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh & live yoghurt.
How can this affect my pelvic floor?
Your pelvic floor is a group of muscles that sit like a basket within your pelvis. The pelvic floor muscles span from the tailbone (coccyx) to the pubic bone; front to back, and also side to side. The pelvic floor muscles function as support for the organs that lie on it. Think of it as your ‘Lady Hammock’ holding up your Uterus, Bladder and Rectum.
These pelvic floor muscles normally are firm, thick, and resemble a muscular trampoline in its ability to move up and down. When weakened pelvic problems occur.
If your gut health is unbalanced you can experience many adverse negative symptoms such as diarrhea or constipation. This pressure on your rectum and your entire pelvic floor can lead to your pelvic floor muscle becoming weak. A weak pelvic floor can lead to urine and fecal incontinence.
Tip: Use a stool when on the toilet. Aim to have feet on a low stool and knees above hips and try to keep inhaling as you push (reduces the pressure)
Suffers of unhappy psychological states are more likely to suffer from inflammatory bowel issues.
Poor nutrient absorption from an unhealthy gut adds to reduced elasticity and weak muscles contribute to the likeliness of pelvic floor dysfunction and pelvic organ prolapse.
Inflammation from an unhealthy gut causes muscles in that area to tighten to protect that area. This can tighten the pelvic floor, hip reflexor, hamstrings, glutes and numerous other areas. So if you have pain its worth addressing your diet and gut health.
I am fascinated by the job our gut does and could research and learn about it forever. I hope this has helped.