Gut Health and Hormone Imbalance
Have you ever noticed a change in your bowel habits during a certain time of the month and wondered if gut health and hormones are related? Well, they certainly are and oftentimes a disturbance in one can cause issues with the other.
Scientists are referring to this area of study as the microgenderome or microbial endocrinology. Basically, it studies everything between the hormones and gut microbiome and how they affect each other.
In this article we will cover:
- What exactly are hormones and gut microbes?
- How do hormones affect gut health and vice versa?
- How can you tell which one is the problem?
- In what ways can you support both your hormones and gut health?
So without further ado, let’s jump into the research so you can see if your hormonal or gut issues are caused by the other!
What are hormones?
Hormones are messenger molecules for your endocrine system. Hormones are used in many different ways but their main three functions are to control the growth, development, and metabolism within your body.
Hormones are excreted from the different organs within your endocrine system including:
- Pituitary, adrenal, thyroid, and parathyroid glands
- Gonads (your ovaries or testes)
Different hormones are created within these organs and sent throughout your body via your bloodstream to make sure everything is functioning properly.
There are a lot of different hormones in your body and each one has a specific function. However when your body is creating too many of one and not enough of another this can cause disturbances like goiter, metabolism dysfunction, overactive or underactive sex drive, and gut microbiome imbalance.
What are gut microbes?
Your gut microbes are bacteria within your gut that help you to digest food, extract nutrients, and circulate these nutrients throughout your body. Certain foods can’t be digested with your stomach acid and enzymes and need to be fermented inside your body to reap all of their amazing benefits. So to do this, our bodies have bacteria in our guts that help us to do just that.
When there is a good balance within your gut microbiome, you often feel very healthy and don’t have many ailments. However different things like diet, health status, geography, stress, how you were born, and medications can all affect the balance within your gut.
Diet, medications, stress, and hormones are some of the biggest internal factors that can affect your gut health.
How do hormones affect gut health?
Hormones, as we stated above, help to keep balance throughout our bodies — our guts included. There are obvious differences between males and females when it comes to hormone fluctuations and gut health.
Certain conditions like IBS and autoimmune disorders are reported more frequently in women than they are in men. When this trend is followed, we see more symptoms during menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause in women. This is where scientists have been able to first see the link between gut health and the effects of hormones.
As we see increases in the male diagnosis of IBS and autoimmune disorders, we are also noticing a decrease in their testosterone levels and increases in their estrogen levels. Both of which are hormones that we can obviously see affecting our gut microbial balance.
There are two major hormonal groups that are seen to affect the gut microbial balance:
- Neurohormones (serotonin, adrenaline, dopamine, and noradrenaline)
- Stress hormones (cortisol, corticosterone, adrenocorticosterone, and corticotropin)
Both can be expressed because of stress-related instances. As we see a rise in stressful situations like jobs, childcare, and a global pandemic, we also see an increase in these hormones. (think about the last time you were stressed or anxious, did you end up with an upset stomach? More than likely your answer was “yes.”)
One of the major responses in our body from this hormone increase is changes in our microbiome.
This is our fight or flight response kicking into gear and making us more adept at dealing with our caveman predators like bears or lions. We obviously don’t need that now, but our bodies think otherwise and try to save us from stressful situations.
But our hormones aren’t the only thing to blame, our gut bacteria themselves may be just as much to do with the problems.
How do gut disturbances affect hormone imbalance?
Remember how we said that gut microbes further digest our food and release nutrients to be recirculated in our bloodstream? Well, some of our hormones can be extracted from our foods and recirculated as well. Along with these hormones, we are also getting other things like short-chain fatty acids that can help to support our hormonal health.
However, when our gut microbes are imbalanced and we have more bad bacteria than good, our bodies can send out inflammatory cytokines and other problematic molecules. Inflammatory biomarkers can cause a state of stress within our bodies that send out more hormones than we actually need and this is where our hormone imbalances come from.
How do you know if your microbiome or hormones are to blame for your health issues?
This can be a rather difficult thing to figure out. It’s a sort of chicken and egg theory. 95% of our serotonin is derived from our gut microbes and then sent up to the brain. The cross-talk between our microbiome and the endocrine system makes it hard to see which is really to blame.
However, you can get testing done by your doctor to see if one or the other may be to blame for your problems.
Another way you can figure out what is causing your woes is to start journaling each day about what symptoms you’ve had and take notice of where you are in your cycle (if you’re a female). If you’re a male, then take notice of your symptoms as well and let your doctor know when you seem to experience more problems.
As you become more mindful and aware of your symptoms you can notice if you ate particular foods that caused the issues or made them better. See if exercise, diet, or other changes you make affect your symptoms.
In what ways can I support my gut and hormone health?
The best way to support both your gut and hormone health is to lead a healthy lifestyle.
Exercise regularly (4-5 times per week is a good goal) this helps balance your gut microbes and depletes stress hormones.
Make sure you eat a well-balanced diet full of veggies and other plant products so your gut is happy and avoid foods pumped with additional hormones.
And make sure you are consulting with your doctor.
If you feel like your gut is to blame for your problems, talk to your doctor about taking Atrantil. Atrantil can help to calm inflammation throughout your body whether it is gut or hormone originated. Atrantil can also help bring balance to your gut since it contains polyphenols, prebiotics, and postbiotics which have all been proven to help your gut and hormones.
In what ways do you support your gut and hormone health? Let us know in the comments below!