Hippocrates said ‘all disease begins in the gut’ – but in recent years the powerful connection between hasn’t been fully appreciated or understood in allopathic medicinal circles, until now. Within the past decade several studies have been conducted which start to reveal just how integral good gut health can be to the function of a variety of systems in the body, and how it is closely connected to our overall health and wellbeing.
How is gut health linked to hormone balance?
There are 100+ trillion microbes or bacteria that live in your gut. All of them are necessary and important in maintaining not just the health of your digestive system, but other areas including brain health, stamina and muscle growth.
Now research is showing just how extensively the gut influences our hormones, and vice versa. Here are just a few of the ways in which taking care of our microbiome can influence our overall health.
The gut microbiome and estrogen
The delicate balance of bacteria found in your gut microbiome actually influence the amount of hormones produced by the body. Specifically when out of balance the gut releases larger amounts of an enzyme which increases the levels of free estrogen in the body, something doctors believe could be linked to a variety of estrogen-related illnesses such as endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome. Excessive estrogen can also lead to hair loss, weight gain and mood imbalance.
This can be offset through incorporating healthier daily habits and smart supplementing with specialist digestive blends and enzymes to bolster your levels of helpful microbes.
Altered gut hormones and weight gain
Obesity is becoming increasingly common phenomena – causing various health crises in the western world. An oversimplified view of obesity has dominated in recent years – focused on excessive consumption of unhealthy foods. But whilst this can be the initial root cause, obesity is much more complex than ‘calories in, calories out’ – making the solution itself complex, too.
Over time patients who are overweight or obese and prone to over-eating foods high in sugars and fats, coupled with stress on the body caused by the extra weight, actively changes the level of bacteria in the gut and impairs digestion in a number of ways. Estrogen excess (as detailed above) can also lead to weight gain and difficulty losing weight, in addition to slower metabolic rate.
The gut plays a vital role in regulating the absorption of nutrients in the gut and metabolic regulation, but in particular an imbalanced gut microbiome increases insulin sensitivity in obese patients. What this means is that glucose cannot be properly used by cells, causing various health issues and making obesity harder to treat. Fortunately, adding fiber and whole foods to a strict weight loss diet showed an increase in good gut bacteria within just 6 weeks – showing that this can be reversed with appropriate intervention.
Gut health and serotonin
You may already be familiar with serotonin – the brain hormone (also known as a neurotransmitter) that contributes to our sense of happiness and wellbeing. But did you know that serotonin is made in the gut?
The gut manufactures around 90% of serotonin in our bodies, to be precise. To do this it needs certain levels of specific bacteria which are often disrupted through overuse of antibiotics and
NSAIDs (anti-inflammatory drugs), chronic stress, poor diet and inadequate sleep.
The good news is that once we know the culprits behind the suppression of this ‘happy chemical’, we can start to make changes to restore balance at the source within the gut. Choosing whole foods over processed, refined options, minimising stress levels and supplementing with pre- and pro-biotics designed to restore bacteria responsible for serotonin production are all good places to start.
Gut health during the menopause
Women going through perimenopause and menopause may find that they experience a variety of gut-related symptoms and digestive discomfort. Whilst these symptoms are common, they aren’t necessarily something you need to simply ‘put up with’. Often the root cause of many symptoms, especially those that cause issues with digestion, is disrupted microflora in the gut, simply made worse by the fluctuating hormone levels that come along with the menopause.
Women often start to experience bloating, digestive issues and as they enter the menopause. These can be caused by a wide variety of imbalances in the gut, such as Candida overgrowth due to fluctuating estrogen levels. As issues in the gut continue this then exacerbates other symptoms of menopause such as mood swings, weight gain, slowed metabolism and hot flashes.
Rebalancing the gut through a targeted approach (ideally with professional support) can help to make navigating the menopause smoother and is an essential support alongside complementary therapies and hormone replacement, if you choose this route.
Good gut support is vital for hormonal health
Many health concerns stem from an imbalanced and inflamed gut. Discover how our specially formulated Digestive Blend can help you to rebalance and restore your gut microbiome.