As a functional nutritionist, I help women to identify and address the root causes of their hormone and digestive symptoms. Say goodbye to fad diets, my mission is to empower you in your health and create change that sustains.
Did you know that hormone health and gut health are very closely linked? For women struggling with fertility challenges, PCOS, PMS, fatigue, weight fluctuations, autoimmunity, and other unexplained symptoms, gut health might JUST be the missing piece of the puzzle.
Yes you heard me right! When gut health isn’t optimal this impacts multiple pathways in your body… and gut symptoms might not be your cue that your gut is off.
Some non-gut related symptoms that indicate your gut needs some help can include:
Eczema, acne, and chronic skin rashes
Resistant weight loss
The gut microbiome plays a critical role in countless physiological processes. Researchers are still discovering how the microbiota influences the reproductive system, and some even considered the gut to be a “full-fledged endocrine organ” (Gut Microbes, 2021). Your gut environment influences how your body interacts with estrogen, androgens, insulin, and other hormones, and as a result, gut dysbiosis is strongly associated with reproductive health issues. Because the two are intimately linked, supporting gut health means supporting hormone health!
The gut microbiome assists in maintaining hormonal balance through many functions, but here are a few:
1. Detoxing excess estrogen.
High levels of estrogen can be associated with some PCOS pictures, endometriosis, fibroids and polyps, infertility, and even hormone positive cancers. Estrogen is processed in the liver and then excreted by way of the GI tract. GI imbalances in addition to, under-eating, nutritional deficiencies, stress, medications, and toxins in our environment can put stress on optimal liver function. Liver function IS an important component in supporting healthy estrogen pathways and improving overall health of your hormones working together! Supporting your digestion by eating adequate amounts of fiber, probiotic rich foods, and minerals for hydration is important, but when it comes to working with your GI health, I always say, “Test don’t guess!”. Testing is going to provide the direct roadmap to get your gut working WITH you and your hormone health. Here we can identify specifically which bacteria are imbalanced, markers of inflammation, infection, and digestive function that can be playing a role in your gut related and hormone symptoms. Curious about testing your gut and ready to create a plan to restore balance! Schedule a call here to chat.
2. Eliminating endocrine disruptors (EDCs).
Many consumer products contain endocrine disrupting chemicals such as xenoestrogens, which mimic estrogen in the body. Exposure to EDCs is one of the drivers of gut dysbiosis (dysbiosis describes an imbalance of beneficial bacteria to harmful bacteria in the intestine) (Cells, 2022). Again, high levels of estrogen and hormone imbalances as a whole are associated with reproductive health issues. Optimizing intestinal health is essential for helping your body eliminate these chemicals. But hold up! If you aren’t pooping you aren’t eliminating! If we aren’t having a full formed completely eliminated bowel movements daily, you are inhibiting your bodies natural detox processes! Constipation, even mild, can be a huge barrier to your hormone health. Through testing we can create a plan to resolve your constipation by understanding specifically what your gut terrain needs to restore balance.
3. Balancing inflammation.
Because the microbiome also influences the immune system, it also regulates inflammatory responses in the body. Many reproductive disorders are a result of chronic inflammation which drives up stress hormones leading to various imbalances. Dysbiosis “is linked to the onset of pro-inflammatory conditions such as endometriosis or PCOS, which are often associated with infertility” (Cells, 2022). A healthy microbiome helps keep inflammation at bay and supports a space of safety within the body.
4. Supporting healthy thyroid function.
The gut also influences thyroid hormone production. Healthy thyroid function is essential for reproductive health. Often, women experiencing anovulation, missing periods, and infertility may also experience hypothyroidism. Studies indicate that intestinal microbiota play a pivotal role in thyroid disease and hypothyroidism through the up-take of thyroid-related micronutrients such as selenium, iodine, calcium, copper, etc. (Frontiers in Endocrinology, 2022). It influences the immune system and regulates thyroid antibodies–which are elevated in autoimmune conditions such as Hashimotos. Women with Hashimotos are often told by functional providers to adopt a gluten free diet. The potential problem with consuming gluten when you have Hashimoto’s disease is that it contains a protein (gliadin) that resembles an enzyme of your thyroid (transglutaminase). So, if you have gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, this can cause your immune system to attack your thyroid mistakenly (autoimmune thyroiditis), deteriorating its function. If you have been diagnosed with Hashimotos, a guided gluten-free diet trial (while working to heal the gut environment) can be supportive to rebalancing the thyroid immune response, thus improving the health of your thyroid.
5. Supporting a healthy insulin response.
Dysbiosis is common in conditions like Type II diabetes and PCOS, where healthy blood sugar sugar metabolism and insulin response is disrupted. Studies indicate that increasing beneficial bacteria through probiotics (either supplemental or from food sources), specifically Lactobacillus reuteri, improves insulin secretion (World Journal of Diabetes, 2020). Understanding your personal gut environment, where you need rebalancing, and taking steps to create a healthy microbiome will support a healthy blood sugar response which is important to achieve hormonal balance!
6. Absorbing essential nutrients to support hormone synthesis and response.
Microbes promote healthy digestion. We need healthy bile flow, stomach acid, and digestive enzymes to break down essential nutrients and allow for absorption of those “tools” into the body. Without a healthy microbiome, the body is unable to readily access the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and fatty acids from our food. These nutrients are crucial to overall hormone function and when not present or in lower than ideal amounts, we see symptoms present that impact mood, hair, skin, energy levels, sleep, nail health, cycle health, and so much more!