Did you know that your gut health and hormones are directly related?
If you are having problems with your hormonal levels, especially imbalances with your estrogen levels, you may want to look into your gut health. Yes, you read that right, your gut!
Our gut actually plays a very important role in influencing our hormones and their levels. So, if you want to heal or balance your hormones, you can start by improving your gut health. Alongside a gut-enhancing diet, if you are experiencing hormonal imbalance, there are also some specific herbs you can add to help balance them out. You can check these out here.
In this article, I will explains the relationship between your gut and hormones (also known as the “Gut-Hormone Connection”) and how to keep your gut intact and your hormones in check.
The Relationship Between Your Gut and Hormones — The Gut-Hormone Connection
Your gut microbiota acts as a central controller of your hormones, influencing most of your hormonal activities. Think of it as an orchestra, where your gut microbiota is the orchestra’s conductor while your hormones are the different musicians that are being conducted and directed by the conductor.
It is also worth mentioning that your gut microbiome produces hormones, to begin with. At the same time, your gut microbiome is also the one that tells your glands and tissues how many hormones must be created and when to be created.
In short, your gut microbiome significantly influences almost every hormone in your body. This includes the following hormones:
- Thyroid hormones
- Cortisol and other stress hormones
Since your gut microbiome has such an impactful influence on your hormones, keeping it healthy and intact is one way to keep your hormones in check. On the other hand, a neglected or weakened gut microbiome can actually cause trouble when it comes to many hormone-related problems including hormonal imbalances. So, it is important we keep an eye on our gut health.
While your gut health impacts all of your hormones, there are a few that are impacted more than others – thyroid and estrogen. Let us take a look at them!
How Your Gut Affects Your Thyroid Hormones
If you are having problems with your thyroid health, such as hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, imbalances in your thyroid hormones could be the main reason behind it – and the main reason for your thyroid hormones imbalances typically is because of your gut microbiome’s poor condition.
Here is how they work
When you have low microbial diversity in your gut microbiome – that is, when you do not have enough diversity in your gut bacteria’s population – this can lead to too much thyroid stimulation hormone (TSH) production. When you have too much TSH, this can cause your body to produce higher levels of thyroid hormones T3 and T4. Sometimes, this can lead to a condition called hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism can cause problems such as anxiety, irregular heartbeat, irritability, and sudden weight loss.
On the other hand, if your gut microbiome’s population is imbalanced, it can also cause hypothyroidism – a condition where your thyroid produces very little TSH than what it is supposed to produce. Common problems associated with hypothyroidism are unexplained weight gain, dry skin, sensitivity to cold, poor memory, and digestive problems.
So, what does this all mean? It means that your gut health and thyroid health are connected to one another. To avoid thyroid problems such as hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, you must ensure that your gut microbiome’s health is in its tip-top shape.
How Your Gut Affects Your Estrogen
Excess estrogen can be a problem for both men and women. Excess estrogen can cause diseases and bodily problems such as breast cancer, prostate cancer, as well as hormonal imbalance, weight gain, and a variety of other bothersome symptoms.
It is therefore important to regulate your estrogen level – and to do this, you must keep your gut health and gut microbiome in tip-top shape. Here’s how it all works.
Your gut microbiome is a crucial regulator of the level of your estrogen in your body, just as for other hormones as mentioned above. Your gut microbiomes produce an enzyme called beta-glucuronidase. Beta-glucuronidase is the one responsible for converting estrogen into their active forms. On the other hand, dysbiosis – the imbalance of organisms inside your gut microbiome – reduces the levels of estrogen in your body.
Then there is a specific subset of special microbes that plays the role in the growth of your estrogen levels. They are called the “estrobolome”, and these special microbes consist of specific bacterial genes that can metabolize your estrogens. They play a significant role when it comes to promoting tissue growth in your body because estrogen itself is the one that promotes such tissue growth.
But while estrogen plays a vital role in promoting tissue growth, excess estrogen levels are harmful nevertheless. As mentioned earlier, excess estrogen will lead to health problems, including serious ones like cancer and weight gain.
How to avoid this? In simple words: promote good bacteria in your gut microbiome to keep your estrogen levels in check.
Eating a Hormone-Balancing Diet
We have already established that keeping your gut microbiome and overall health in check is the key to balancing your hormonal activities. One way to do that is by eating a healthy diet. Here are some foods that will promote a “hormone-balance diet”:
1) Antioxidant-rich foods
Oxidative stress can be very harmful to your health. One main factor of oxidative stress is what we call free radicals. When free radicals overpower your antioxidant defenses, it will hurt your gut health. Eating antioxidant-rich foods will help fight off these free radicals and keep your gut health in check.
2) Foods rich in anti-inflammatory properties
Chronic inflammation is very bad for your health. It is one of the driving factors towards major diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. And yes, chronic inflammation hurts your gut as well. To defend your gut and overall health from chronic inflammation, eating foods rich in anti-inflammatory properties is one main way to do it.
3) Nutrient-dense foods
Simply put, a nutrient-deficient diet can hurt your health, including your gut health, and thus impacting your hormone health. Eating highly nutritious food will significantly improve your health. This can start with vegetables, healthy fats, berries, protein-rich foods, and fun foods like seeds!
4) Foods rich in fiber
Fiber specifically benefits our gut, as it is fermented by our gut flora for energy and optimal functioning. The best fiber comes from foods like green leafy vegetables, raw nuts, and berries. These are relatively easy to add to your diet and quite delicious too.
5) Foods rich in prebiotics
Prebiotics are a specific type of fiber that our consumed by our gut microbiome. Sources of this special fiber include foods like chicory root, dandelion, leeks, bananas, garlic, and more.
Lifestyle Practices For A Healthy Hormone Health
Another factor in improving your hormonal balance is by having a mindful and healthy lifestyle. Luckily, you don’t need to spend on fancy items just to do them – it’s 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 doesn’t 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.
Also please check out “9 Herbs to Help Balance and Regulate Your Hormones Naturally” and “PMS Versus PMDD: Similarities, Differences, and Natural Healing Methods” if you enjoyed this post.