Gut + Hormone Health Explained
Plus 5 tips to take care of both
Are you aware of the connection between your gut and hormones?
Nutrients fuel hormones
For starters, the gut is where food is broken down and nutrients are absorbed. Nutrients are used as building blocks or as helpers to make hormones. They also help break down hormones that are no longer needed.
Elimination keeps an equilibrium
When hormones are no longer needed, the liver is responsible for packing up those hormones and the gut transports them out. When one or both systems aren’t getting the job done, hormonal imbalance can occur. This is particularly the case with estrogen excess (commonly referred to as estrogen dominance), one of the most common hormone imbalance issues for women.
What is estrogen excess?
Estrogen excess typically means too much estrogen. It can also refer to the situation with normal estrogen levels and not enough progesterone. Check out the common symptoms of estrogen excess below.
Common symptoms of estrogen excess:
- Irregular cycles
- Heavy periods
- Painful periods
- Breast swelling and tenderness
- Decreased sex drive
- Mood swings
- Weight and/or fat gain (mainly around the midsection and hips)
- Period-related fatigue
- Headaches before/during your period
The gut is also home to many different microbes, and when there is dysbiosis (imbalance of beneficial microbes to not-so-beneficial microbes), estrogen can be recycled back into circulation instead of being eliminated. This can lead to worsening symptoms of estrogen excess.
A large proportion of our immune system is found within the gut. Any inflammation in the gut or aggravation affecting the immune system can lead to inflammation in the body. This inflammation can disrupt and interfere with our hormones.
How can you tell if your gut is impacting your hormones?
Digestive symptoms point directly to the gut as an area of focus for current hormonal issues or to prevent possible hormonal issues from arising.
The following digestive symptoms can be signs that your gut needs support:
The presence of estrogen excess symptoms suggests looking at gut health, in addition to hormones.
Sometimes using functional lab testing, like comprehensive stool analysis or comprehensive hormone testing, is the best way to assess the real state of your gut or hormone health.
There are various things you can do to improve the health of your gut and help your hormonal health. Here are 5 to get you started.
5 tips to take care of your gut and hormone health
You are what you eat.
- Research has shown changing your diet can create a change in gut microbes within 24 hours!
- Focus on nutrient-dense foods, such as fresh vegetables and fruit, adequate protein and healthy fats.
- Aim for at least 25-30 grams daily (from vegetables, fruit, beans/legumes, whole grains as tolerated).
- Fibre helps maintain regular bowel movements and eliminate waste.
- Fibre-rich foods also feed gut microbes, keeping them happy.
- Limit alcohol to moderate consumption (1 drink or less per day for women).
- If you have gut or hormone issues, you may be better off avoiding alcohol entirely to minimize the impact on gut microbes, as well as the liver’s ability to detoxify hormones and hormone-disrupting chemicals.
Show your liver some love
- Eat 6 servings (or 3 cups) of liver supporting foods each week.
- Examples include broccoli, broccoli sprouts, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, turnip, rutabaga, beets, artichoke, dandelion greens and watercress.
Avoid inflammatory foods
- Avoid foods that you know you’re sensitive to.
- Top inflammatory foods include sugar, processed foods, refined flour-based products, processed vegetable oils (soybean, corn, canola, safflower), artificial sweeteners and dairy.
If you’re feeling like your digestive system could be better or like it may be impacting your hormones, let’s see how we can get you back to less symptoms and feeling more like yourself.
Feel free to book a visit with me here.