Dr. Laura: Menopause-could probiotics be the answer?

The microbiome shows distinct differences in pre and post menopausal women, a 2019 study reports.

The change in microbiome could help us better understand the reasons for health decline in many post-menopausal women. The presence of estrogen protects against cardiovascular, metabolic disease and bone health. Now mounting evidence shows how the gut microbiota affects estrogen metabolism levels. It is unclear if the post-menopausal decline in estrogen is directly related to the change in diversity of the microbiome. We do know that estrogen hold some regulatory capacity in the immune system and more than 70% of the immune system resides in the gut.

Bone health

Additionally, probiotics can help in bone mineral matrix as the microbes in the gut are responsible for secreting a host of metabolites into the blood stream. Aging women tend to have more Tolumonas microbes. These particular bacterium produce toluene which can reduce bone mineral density.

Some evidence that compares the microbiome of the pre and post menopausal women showed that the bacteria seemed to be more satisfied in the earlier years and tend to compete with each other for nutrient substrates in later years. A decline in estrogen after menopause could increase the bacterial demand for calcium.

Cardiovascular health

Post-menopausal women have a microbiome that produces more cysteine and homocysteine. These components absorb across the small intestine into the blood stream and pose as risk factors for cardiovascular disease. You can take a lab test to measure you homocysteine levels.

Immune health

It is important to uphold a diverse microbiome to keep the immune system healthy and strong. Older women have higher levels of E.coli and Bacteroides and lower levels of bacteria in the Firmicutes family. Younger women have more Roseburia and less Parabacteroides. The ratios of these microbes in older women links to metabolic and endocrine disorders.

Probiotics for anti-aging

This might be all Greek to you and me, (actually the names of all these critters are in Latin), but the take away is pretty cool. Some of the difference found between pre and post menopausal individuals may provide leadership into the field of anti-aging with probiotic therapy.

References

Hui ZhaoJuanjuan ChenXiaoping LiQiang SunPanpan QinQi Wang Compositional and functional features of the female premenopausal and postmenopausal gut microbiota. First published: 05 July 2019 https://doi.org/10.1002/1873-3468.13527