Improving Gut Health

Jul 21, 2020 , ,
Fertility Dietitians


Watch out, listeners! Today we are talking about digestion, intestines, poop, and gas! Yes friends, that’s right! This episode focuses on the gut. To be more specific, we are talking about healing your gut after using oral contraceptives aka “The Pill”. In reality, all forms of birth control that involve hormones can cause a whole bunch of problems in your digestive system. But, for the sake of conversation we talk a lot about “birth control”, meaning hormonal contraceptives. 


Birth control increases your risk for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), other bacterial dysbiosis, and more! 


Sophia shares her story about her fling with hormonal birth control alongside the diagnosis of IBS. 


Women often experience yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis while using hormonal contraceptives. Your vagina isn’t the same as your gut, but both have their own delicate microbial balances. If your digestives system is out of whack, your vaginal health is often greatly impacted. 


Having cyclical changes in your bowel movements is normal. During your luteal phase, your smooth muscle relaxes. This can cause more acid reflux symptoms and can cause digestion to slow… aka constipation. Then, the pendulum swings when your period comes. You feel the urge to poop and pee way more, and maybe even have diarrhea! We built this episode to help you deal with these symptoms if they’re bothering your from month to month.


Your digestive tract is lined with hormone receptors. Hormones affect the actual cells of your gut, but they also affect the kinds of healthy bacteria that grow and flourish. This can be why you experience gas and bloating when using birth control, or during different times in your cycle. 

We want to teach you, practically, how to manage these symptoms with your diet. So perk up, friends! Relief is on the way!


First thing: Plants and fiber! Our bodies are made to eat a lot of plant material by means of veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, beans, and grains. Fiber is just a simple way to say “indigestible carbohydrates”. Even though we don’t get any calories or nutrients when we eat fiber, it’s vital to keeping our gut flora happy and healthy. We focus on fiber FOODS, not fiber supplements like metamucil or fiber gummies. Our favorite high fiber foods to heal your gut are: 

  • Veggies – these are the BEST fiber sources in all the WORLD! Stick with broccoli, leafy greens, sweet potato, artichoke hearts, avocado
  • Fruits – peaches, pears, plums, and berries are high fiber
  • Lentils and beans – only if you’re not prone to painful gas
  • Quinoa – if you’re able to tolerate the carbohydrate load without spiking insulin
  • Caitlin’s Fiber blend – mix equal parts chia seeds, flax seeds, and psyllium all mixed together! Mix a teaspoon into water before meals to really boost your fiber intake. 


Healthy fats help promote the right kinds of bacteria in your digestive tract. Foods like meat from factory farmed animals, processed animal products, and seed oils (canola, cottonseed, corn, soy, hydrogenated, safflower, and vegetable oils) promote overgrowth of some unhealthy bacteria colonies. To balance that out, replace those lower-quality fats with foods like:

  • Avocado
  • Olive Oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • Grass-fed butter and dairy
  • Meat from healthy, sustainably raised animals


Sophia then pontificates about healthy meats and where they come. 


Eat a lot of fermented foods! This used to be the only way to preserve food past its fresh point. Here’s what we mean when we talk about fermented foods:

  • Naturally pickled veggies and sauerkraut
  • Preserve spreads made with natural fruit juices 
  • Yogurt and kefir (fermented dairy)
  • Natto and tempeh (fermented soy)


If you’re someone who struggles with sugar cravings, these fermented foods will help you kick cravings and get your belly in line!


Now, let’s talk about what NOT to eat!


Sweetness – The ups and downs of blood sugar drastically affect your intestinal system. Here are the foods to avoid

  • Baked goods, sweetened drinks, syrupy coffee drinks, candy, jams, jellies, condiments, and sugary treats 
  • Artificial sweeteners – these blow you up more than anything. Sugar free flavored syrups, energy drinks, pre-workout, protein powder, and diet-anything are the worst culprits.


Probiotic Supplements: Caitlin and I usually recommend FemDophilis from Jarrow Formulas. FemEcology by Vitanica is also one of our favorites. What we DO NOT suggest is going to Costco or Sam’s Club and buying a barrel of whatever bargain brand you can find.  Here’s what else to look for:

  • Research done on that particular brand
  • Refrigeration  – make sure what you are buying is still alive
  • Specifics – make sure the package tells you exactly which strains are present, and in what amounts. 


Remember to be gentle on yourself as you make these changes! Also, be realistic about bowel movements. If you don’t poop everyday, something is up! Contact us and let us help you get it out. 


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