How The Gut Affects Estrogen Levels
You actually produce three main forms of estrogen estrone, estradiol, and estriol. Though these are often associated with women, estrogens arent just created by female reproductive organs. Estrone, estradiol, and estriol are also generated by the gut microbiome. In fact, a healthy microbiome produces more estriol. For a long time estriol wasnt given much attention because its the weakest of the three. It was believed to be only present during pregnancy, which we now know is not the entire story.
The other two estrogens were much louder meaning more biochemically potent when they bind to an estrogen receptor so they got most of the attention. It turns out that because estriol is weak, its incredibly beneficial to the body. Basically, you get the benefits of estrogen with estriol without as many negative effects . A healthy gut microbiome produces beneficial estriol and maintains a healthy balance of the other estrogen metabolites.
Not only does your gut microbiome help create more estriol and maintain estrogen balance overall, a specific group of microbes called the estrobolome reduces harmful side effects of more potent estrogen. Your estrobolome helps metabolize excess estrogen to keep it from causing problems. Thats great news because too much estrogen can cause weight gain, mood issues, painful menstrual cycles, and potentially breast, endometrial, and prostate cancer.
Correlation Between Gut Health And Mental Health:
Similarly, there is a strong correlation between gut health and mental health. The vagus nerve runs from stomach to brain stem, so if something is wonky with your digestive system, you may also experience anxiety and/or depression.
I wouldnt consider myself to be a Type A individual or to be particularly particular, but when my gut symptoms were at their worst, I felt anxiety daily, had a bleak outlook on life, and also had obsessive compulsive behavior. It took healing my gut to calm my nervous system and to cease the obsessive behaviors to which I had grown accustomed.
Can Hormones Affect Your Bowels
Hormones and gut health are interesting things. An unhealthy gut can contribute to unstable hormones and an increase in cortisol or stress. But added stress and anxiety can also cause stomach issues. While we dont fully understand the connections between our gut and our brains, we know they are intrinsically connected.
Can female problems cause digestive problems?
Like we just mentioned, our hormones and our digestion are intertwined. So you may notice a slowed system, more constipation and bloating or loose stools and increased flatulence depending on estrogen and progesterone levels.
Thank you again, that time of the month!
From your period to perimenopause and beyond, estrogen and progesterone directly affect how you feel. Progesterone can make you either feel constipated or give you diarrhea. Its also the hormone that makes you crave chocolate and sweets, which will slow down digestion.
And estrogen helps keep your stress response or cortisol lower and move things through your digestive system.
So when you hit the last two weeks of your period and estrogen drops, you may notice you struggle to be regular more. It’s a great time to up all the things you should be doing to keep your gut healthy and microbiome in tact.
How to Be More Regular and Even Out My Hormones
Eating foods high in fiber, prebiotic, and probiotic elements can start to impact how you feel in a positive way. You can also take herbal and adaptogenic supplements to help your bodys physical systems.
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Your Gut Microbiome Plays A Key Role
The gut microbiome is the community of microbes residing in your gut. These are the beneficial gut bacteria that numbers in the trillions in your gastrointestinal tract. Healthy gut flora includes a whole ecosystem of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and protozoa that have a beneficial impact on the human body.
The key to good health and hormone balance is maintaining a balance of good and bad bacteria.
But poor quality diet, age, environmental toxins, chronic stress, and other factors can contribute to an imbalance of gut microbiota known as gut dysbiosis. Gut dysbiosis is having too much of, or the wrong type of bacteria present in the wrong place.
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What Is The Estrobolome And Why It Matters
There are various groups of microbes that regulate specific hormones. And one of the most important is the estrobolome.
If youve never heard of the estrobolome before, its a set of gut microbes that:
- metabolize estrogens .
- balance the amount of estrogen circulating through the body.
- regulate how much estrogen is excreted from the body.
Because the estrobolome regulates estrogen, that means it influences estrogen-related conditions like breast cancer, excess weight gain, fibroids, endometriosis and PCOS .
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Stress Cortisol And The Gi Tract
Pathogens like c. rodentium and salmonella, are known to increase the levels of hormones like epinephrine and norepinephrine .
Now, normally the body releases these hormones in response to stress and inflammation .
However, as those hormones are continually released, the bacteria take note of those rising levelswhich then triggers those bacteria to become more virulent!
Andlets not forget that cortisol is another hormone that the body releases in response to to stress.
But once again, this can come with unwanted side effects when were talking about chronic stress because:
- cortisol production is stimulated by CRH .
- CRH has the ability to weaken the gut lining, which can then lead to leaky gut syndrome.
Cause And Effect: Digestive Health And Overall Health
Addressing the symptoms of poor gut health is important so you can get relief, but getting to the root cause is the best way to prevent further and future damage.
While theres a wide array of potential causes for gut disturbance, one common culprit at the root of many health challenges is leaky gut syndrome. Leaky gut allows partially digested food particles and potentially harmful microorganisms into the bloodstream via a compromised gut lining. This is also called increased gut permeability. Increased gut permeability can lead to a host of health issues, including :
- Food sensitivities or allergies
- Weight loss or weight gain
Its also very highly correlated with chronic illnesses such as celiac disease, Crohns disease, Type 1 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease . Interestingly, leaky gut both exacerbates and is caused by inflammation, which is why reducing inflammatory foods and activities is such a vital part of the dietary and lifestyle changes that come with healing your gut naturally.
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Maintain A Moderate Weight
Weight gain is directly associated with hormonal imbalances that may lead to complications in insulin sensitivity and reproductive health.
Obesity is strongly related to the development of insulin resistance, while losing excess weight is linked to improvements in insulin resistance and reduced risk of diabetes and heart disease .
Obesity is also associated with hypogonadism, a reduction or absence of hormone secretion from the testes or ovaries. In fact, this condition is one of the most relevant hormonal complications of obesity in men .
This means obesity is strongly related to lower levels of the reproductive hormone testosterone in men and contributes to a lack of ovulation in women, both of which are common causes of infertility .
Nonetheless, studies indicate that weight loss may reverse this condition. Eating within your own personal calorie range can help you maintain hormonal balance and a moderate weight .
Maintaining a moderate weight is crucial for hormone health, as obesity is strongly related to hormonal imbalances that may impair insulin sensitivity and fertility.
For example, when your gut microbiome ferments fiber, it produces short-chain fatty acids such as acetate, propionate, and butyrate. Both acetate and butyrate aid weight management by increasing calorie burning and thus help prevent insulin resistance (
Here are some tips to improve your gut bacteria to positively affect your hormones.
Restoring Optimal Gut Health & Hormones
In my clinic, when patients come in with a hormone imbalance, gut health is one of the first things we address.
We start with a nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory diet to support a balanced microbiome, a healthy gut lining, and the nutrients needed for hormone production.
We restore the ingredients needed for optimal digestion, including stomach acid, digestive enzymes, and bile acid. And we use probiotics to replenish the good bacteria in your gut that support hormone metabolism.
We also look beyond gut health to address factors like stress, detoxification, and other sources of inflammation.
About the Author: Dr. Seth Osgood is a Doctor of Nursing Practice, Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner and Institute of Functional Medicine Certified Practitioner.
He has helped people from around the world improve their health utilizing a Functional Medicine approach.
Want to work with Dr. Osgood and the GrassRoots team? Become a patient in our West Lebanon, New Hampshire Functional Medicine clinic, or our Burlington, Vermont Functional Medicine clinic!
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Lifestyle Practices For A Healthy Hormone Health
Another factor in improving your hormonal balance is by having a mindful and healthy lifestyle. Luckily, you dont need to spend on fancy items just to do them its something you can start working on today!
Aside from diet, here are some things you can do:
- Exercise Be sure you exercise regularly, or at least, 3 times a week. This doesnt have to be crazy HIIT workouts, but just movement in general. I try to get outside and go for a walk at least once a day.
- Sleep Enough sleep is important in keeping your gut health healthy. The necessary sleep per person ranges, but typically 7-8 hours of sleep works for people.
- Stress management While we cannot avoid stress, it is important to manage levels and keep them regulated. I try to journal each morning and spend some time meditating
These are just some of the things you can do to improve your gut health and hormonal levels. This may sound simple, but once you start doing them every day, you can see results over time.
I know this is a long one, so kudos to you if you made it to the end. I try really hard to break down what can be complex topics into digestible blog posts because I know these once were hard for me to understand.
As always, reach out with any questions, comments, etc. you can send me an or shoot me a .
Inflammation And Hormone Changes
A large part of womens health is dependent on hormones. Imbalances in sex hormones such as estrogen and progesterone have been associated with the immune response and inflammation. An imbalance in even one hormone can have a cascading effect since these hormones are linked through the hormonal axes of the body.
This is why chronic inflammation often accompanies key hormone transitions such adolescence, pregnancy, perimenopause, and menopause in particular. It has been shown that all four transitional phases can induce changes in genetics.
For example, a woman going through perimenopause, usually between the ages of 38 and 42, might develop an autoimmune disease. However, when she transitions to menopause, she may find herself with a different autoimmune condition. She may have started out with inflammatory bowel disease , but then when menopause begins, develop osteoarthritis. Both of these conditions have inflammation at the root, going back to the gut.
This is corroborated by the fact that women with digestive issues often have a more difficult time during menopause. Weight gain, osteoporosis, and acne can all be present at this stage.
Another phenomenon observed is that oftentimes after pregnancy, whether a few weeks or a year later, women will suddenly start to suffer from autoimmune conditions like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.
Stay aware of any digestive symptoms you have, no matter how seemingly unrelated to your condition.
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How The Microbiome Affects Estrogen
Estrogen is made primarily by your ovaries. It then circulates through your bodyto your uterus and breasts and other organs, until it reaches your liver whereitâs inactivated. Inactivated estrogen is then sent to the intestine where itis supposed to stay inactivated so it can exit the body through the stool. Thatis normal, healthy estrogen metabolism.
When certain intestinal bacteria are present, something very different happens.Unfriendly bacteria make an enzyme called beta-glucuronidase, whichre-activates estrogen in your gut. Thatâs a problem because re-activatedestrogen then re-enters your body and causes excess estrogen. That is impairedestrogen metabolism.
Fun fact: An unhealthy microbiome is called dysbiosis.
Heal Your Gut And Improve Your Health Today
In order to maintain a high level of health, its crucial to pay attention to the health of your gut. Fortunately, for some people, healing your gut may be as simple as cleaning up your diet and adopting a healthier lifestyle. For others, consulting with an experienced functional medicine practitioner can help you achieve the results you want.
The information presented in this article is not a substitute for medical advice. However, the staff at Austin Functional Medicine includes specialists in gastrointestinal health, nutrition, and health coaching. Dr. Ruscio and his team are currently accepting new patients in-person and via telemedicine. Schedule an appointment today and be well on your way towards healing your gut.
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How Gut Health Impacts Hormones
I often get women that come to me wanting hormone testing, and I totally understand why. They are tired, have painful/heavy periods, irregular cycles, endometriosis, PCOS, etc., which are all related to hormones. BUT, and thats a big but, we need to think about what is causing these hormone imbalances. This is where the digestive system comes in. If you have an issue in your gut, its nearly impossible to heal hormones long-term.
How to achieve healthier hormones?
When it comes to poop, I love to share the Bristol Stool Chart with my clients. This is a great guide into what stool should look like and helps us to describe what stool does look like to identify potential problems better.
How does your gut health impact your thyroid health?
The gut-thyroid connection is often a vicious cycle since hypothyroidism causes poor digestion, contributing to poor thyroid function. The main ways in which your gut health can impact your thyroid health are:
How does digestion affect hormones?
Swap Carbs For Healthy Fats
Foods that balance hormones include a variety of fat-containing foods that provide short-, medium- and long-chain fatty acids. Your body needs various types of fats to create hormones, including saturated fat and cholesterol.
Not only are these essential fats fundamental building blocks for hormone production, but they keep inflammation levels low, boost your metabolism and promote weight loss.
Healthy fats have the opposite effect of refined carbohydrates, which lead to inflammation and can mess with the balance of your hormones.
My four favorite sources of anti-inflammatory, healthy fats include coconut oil, avocados, grass-fed butter and wild-caught salmon.
- Coconut oil uses are plentiful. For example, coconut oil has natural antibacterial and fat-burning effects.
- Avocado benefits include improving heart health, lowering inflammation, controlling your appetite, and contributing to your daily intake of fiber and nutrients, such as potassium.
- Salmon nutrition is also impressive. Its one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to lower inflammation and help with cognitive functions. Omega-3 fatty acids are a large component of brain-cell membranes and are important for cell-to-cell communication in the brain. Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids help protect against hippocampal neuronal loss and reduce pro-inflammatory responses.
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Natural Ways To Balance Your Hormones
Hormones are chemical messengers that have profound effects on your mental, physical, and emotional health. For instance, they play a major role in controlling your appetite, weight, and mood.
Typically, your body produces the precise amount of each hormone needed for various processes to keep you healthy.
However, sedentary lifestyles and Western dietary patterns may affect your hormonal environment. In addition, levels of certain hormones decline with age, and some people experience a more dramatic decrease than others.
However, a nutritious diet and other healthy lifestyle habits may help improve your hormonal health and allow you to feel and perform your best.
Here are 10 natural ways to balance your hormones.
S To Heal Your Gut Naturally
There are many contributing factors that affect your gut health. Factors such as diet, food intolerances, lifestyle, hormones, sleep, stress and especially medications will affect the state of how your body digests and eliminates what you eat and drink.
Gut health issues are becoming more common, with symptoms such as bloating, IBS, inflammation, reflux and constipation affecting many people and impacting their quality of life.
To help support your digestive health, I’ve gathered my top tips on how to heal your gut naturally. The below information is based on researched studies as well as my own personal journey toward better gut health.
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Why Do We Struggle With Gut Health
Our digestive systems are incredibly complex, and you can spend a lot of time researching the various strains of bacteria, probiotics, and the like. Theres a wide range of whats considered normal or regular bowel movements but if your struggling emotionally and physically and feel like your digestive system’s woes are at the root, there is most likely a connection.
The digestive system is system control for our bodies from day one. From when a baby grows in vitro and is birthed, to when she ingests moms breastmilk and then takes her first bite of food, their micro biome is growing. Your gut health is established by things out of your control but you can do something to help your gut naturally heal and grow in health.
Gut Dysbiosis is a persistent imbalance of your guys microbiome. Sometimes, an illness or some life changes can impact your body for a while before correcting itself. But sometimes, your body gets stuck in this rut.
When you live with an overgrowth of bad bacteria, you may find yourself struggling with digestive upset as well as many other physical issues. Some risk factors include
- Eating highly processed foods
- Ingesting chemicals from unwashed products
- Chemical absorption through the environment
- Taking antibiotics
- Maintaining high levels of stress and anxiety