The human gut is home to an intricate network of microorganisms that play a crucial role in maintaining overall health and well-being. Research has shed light on the intimate connection between gut health and hormone balance, as imbalances in the gut microbiome can lead to disruptions in hormone regulation.
At Happy Hormone Cottage, our specialist team provides comprehensive hormone therapy and overall health services to help our patients achieve optimal health and a balanced hormone profile. This is achieved through lifestyle adjustments and a personalized hormone therapy plan.
In this article we’ll explore the complex relationship between gut health and hormone balance and how a healthy gut can be a key factor in maintaining a balanced hormonal profile.
Importance of Maintaining a Healthy Gut-hormone Balance
The interplay between the gut microbiome and hormones, such as estrogen, remains a topic of active research. Nonetheless, it is known that trillions of microorganisms residing in the gut, referred to as the estrobolome, play a crucial role in regulating and metabolizing estrogen in the body. Estrogen affects mood, weight, and sex drive. Most of the microorganisms in the estrobolome can be found in the cecum, a pouch-like region of the large intestine, and are part of the gut microbiome.
Not only does the gut microbiome aid the synthesis and regulation of hormones and neurotransmitters, but it also assists in the absorption of macro and micronutrients and plays a vital role in the immune system. A healthy gut microbiome with a wide range of bacteria is critical for hormonal balance.
In a healthy gut microbiome, the estrobolome manufactures ideal levels of the enzyme beta-glucuronidase, which plays its part in breaking down complex carbohydrates and in the absorption of bilirubin and flavonoids. If an excess of the enzyme is produced, it results in instability in estrogen levels.
As the liver metabolizes estrogen, it is delivered to the bile for excretion via the gut. From here, a healthy estrobolome minimizes the reabsorption of estrogen from the gut so that it can be removed safely from the body via waste, which is also vital to hormone balance. If this does not happen due to an imbalance of the gut bacteria, there will be an excess of beta-glucuronidase, which then turns estrogen back into its active form. This is reabsorbed into the bloodstream and creates estrogen dominance.
High beta-glucuronidase levels (as a result of gut dysbiosis—an imbalance of the microbiome and estrobolome) result in estrogen-related disease.
In short, the gut microbiome houses 70-80% of our body’s natural defenses. If this immune system were disturbed or inflamed, it could result in autoimmune responses and a critical imbalance of the hormones.
The gut microbiome also helps keep blood sugar in check, absorbs nutrients to enable it to synthesize hormones, and sustains toxins and chemical elimination. If not eliminated, these can lead to hormonal disorders.
How Gut Health Affects Hormone Production and Secretion
Gut dysbiosis can lead to the following:
Food and nutrients may not be properly absorbed, and larger molecules can cross the gut wall, causing food sensitivities and increasing inflammation. If untreated, this can trigger an immune response and an autoimmune condition, leading to hormone disruption, such as infertility, overstimulated estrogen or testosterone with resulting painful periods, PCOS, endometriosis, and hormonal acne.
Impaired nutrient absorption
The microbiome’s ability to extract nutrients from food/supplements is impaired. This causes nutrient deficiencies, which may prompt hormone imbalances.
Impaired thyroid conversion
Healthy gut flora is required for thyroid hormone conversion, which provides T3, the active form of thyroid hormone necessary to stabilize the metabolism, weight, energy, body heat, and reproductive system.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism may result if the gut is not operating optimally. Impaired thyroid conversion can also cause constipation, which diminishes estrogen elimination leading to estrogen dominance.
Constipation and excess estrogen
If the estrobolome is imbalanced, your ability to eliminate estrogen may cause estrogen dominance, which is linked to PMS and painful, heavy periods.
Common Conditions Arising from Unhealthy Gut and Poor Hormone Health
Maintaining a healthy gut and hormone balance is essential for overall wellness. Unfortunately, an unhealthy gut and poor hormone health can lead to various medical conditions.
- Acne and other skin issues
- Autoimmune conditions
- Anxiety and depression
- Bad breath
- Bloating and gas
- Chronic fatigue
- Chronic inflammation
- Degenerative brain disease
- Digestive issues – bloating, constipation, diarrhea, or gas
- Food sensitivities
- Headaches and frequent illnesses (colds and infections)
- Heartburn and heart disease
- Hormone imbalance symptoms, including endometriosis, reproductive issues, irregular, painful, or heavy periods, PMS and PCOS.
- Inflammatory bowel disease
Factors Influencing Gut-hormone Balance
Gut-hormone balance plays a critical role in maintaining overall health and well-being. However, several factors can impact this delicate balance, ravaging the gut microbiome and causing dysbiosis.
Alcohol consumption negatively influences the gut microbiome and the liver and its ability to detoxify circulating estrogens and endocrine-disrupting chemicals, ultimately resulting in an escalated risk of estrogen-related cancers. Sticking to 14 units a week for both men and women is advisable.
Antibiotics interfere with the gut microbiome’s ecology, causing dysbiosis. While most healthy people can recover the microbiome composition and function over time, it may be necessary to replenish some beneficial bacteria via prebiotics and probiotics.
A diet focusing on low-GI (glycemic index) whole foods with anti-inflammatory properties, including fruits, vegetables, fiber, and phytonutrients found in plant-based sources such as whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, is essential for gut health.
It’s important to limit or avoid foods that can raise blood sugar quickly, such as refined grains, processed foods, sugar, pasta, and inflammatory fats, as they can lead to insulin resistance and trigger inflammation, contributing to various diseases.
Certain foods can support gut health in specific ways. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli contain compounds that aid in the detoxification of estrogen.
Prebiotic foods like asparagus, bananas, garlic, and onion provide material for gut bacteria to feed on, while fermented foods and probiotics like kefir, kombucha, and kimchi introduce beneficial bacterial strains to the gut.
Incorporating healthy fats into the diet is also essential for gut health. Fish is a great source of healthy fats, and high-quality Omega-3 supplements can be a useful alternative for those who don’t eat fish.
Other healthy fats include olives or extra virgin olive oil, avocado or avocado oil, flaxseed or flaxseed oil, chia seeds, coconut oil, eggs, full-fat yogurt, and nuts.
Nutrition and lifestyle strategies form the foundation when tackling hormone balancing, but natural supplements can also play a part in balancing hormones. Combination supplements appear to have the most benefit.
Click here to learn more about the nutritional supplements prescribed based on our clients’ needs.
Household products such as fragrances, pesticides, and plastics contain synthetically-manufactured xenoestrogens. These toxic estrogens adversely affect our health since they are absorbed by the body and stored in the liver and fat cells. They work with estrogens produced by the body to influence cell proliferation and disrupt the hormone balance.
Other environmental sources of estrogens are phytoestrogens from plants such as soya and tofu, which we eat.
Hormonal birth control use is shown to impact gut flora, with adverse effects on estrogen metabolism, which indicates susceptibility to inflammatory bowel disease and weight-loss resistance.
Physical activity and sleep
Exercise supports the detoxification of estrogen by transforming a fat-soluble molecule into a water-soluble molecule so it can be excreted. Regular exercise reduces circulating estrogen and lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which affects the sex hormones.
You can start walking for half an hour a day and gradually increase this, including weight training, swimming, or biking.
Activities such as yoga stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system and benefit hormonal health.
Backed up by sufficient sleep and further stress mitigation through relaxing practices such as breathing techniques and meditation, our bodies are better able to cope with stress, negatively affecting hormone balance.
Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy Available In Mason, Ohio
At the Happy Hormone Cottage, our motto is: get tested, get treated, get better.
We study the whole person, and our practitioners listen to their patients’ histories to understand how genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors influence their well-being.
We also offer thorough testing, and our on-site compounding lab provides a full service that covers all your bioidentical hormone replacement therapy needs.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us. A member of our team will be happy to assist in answering your queries and getting you back on the road to good gut health and balanced hormones.