Introduction to Gut Health and Hormones
08 Jun 2022
Each of us has complex hormones running through us that not only differ from person to person but also change throughout our lives. Many things can impact our hormonal balance, including the gut.
What are Hormones?
Hormones can be described as chemical messengers throughout your body. They are secreted into your bloodstream which allows the signals to travel through your body wherever they need to go.1
Our bodies are a complex system of organs, tissue and cells that work together to allow your body to function well. Hormones impact many of the body functions including growth, development, metabolism, sexual function, sleep-wake cycle, reproduction and mood.1
How Does the Body Produce Hormones?
In everybody, there are endocrine glands. These are groups of cells that are responsible for making most of the hormones in the body. Endocrine glands include the pituitary gland, pineal gland, thymus gland, thyroid gland, adrenal glands and pancreas.1
We also produce hormones from our reproductive organs; women from their ovaries and men from the testes.1 Hormones are incredibly sensitive; only a small change in hormones can have noticeable or even catastrophic effects on the body.
How is The Gut Connected to Hormones?
Well, some of our hormones are made in the gut, for a start. 95% of serotonin production occurs in the gut2, so if the gut is unbalanced, serotonin levels will be affected. This can impact both the digestive system and mood stability, leading to feelings of depression and anxiety.
New research has found that the gut is responsible for the regulation of oestrogen. Some studies have indicated that poor gut health increases the risk of polycystic ovaries syndrome and endometriosis which are oestrogen-related diseases, as well as increasing the risk of developing breast cancer.3
If you have a high or low functioning thyroid, you may suffer from an imbalanced gut microbiome. The symptoms of chronic fatigue, weight gain and hair loss can all be linked directly to the thyroid and gut microbiome connection.3
Insulin is an important tool to ensure our bodies can run smoothly. Insulin is, in part, regulated by the live bacteria found in the gut known as Lactobacillus Reuteri. An imbalance microbiome is likely to cause inflammation, and deficiency of this live bacteria can make the imbalance even worse.3
Cholesterol levels are also affected by the health of the gut. Cholesterol levels are precursors to maintaining the balance of progesterone and oestrogen levels in the body.13
How do you Test Hormone Levels?
Your healthcare provider can perform blood, urine or saliva tests to determine your hormone levels. These can be sent off to a laboratory to measure the hormones and test for a hormone disorder.1
How can I Heal my Gut to Help my Hormones?
Having a diverse gut microbiome is essential to its functionality, and as we now know, this is important in regards to hormones. Here are some easy ways to help heal and maintain your gut microbiome:3
Probiotics add live bacteria to your gut, which diversify the good bacteria in the gut microbiome. This helps to keep it balanced, which will stop your gut from interfering with your hormone production/levels.
You can either eat probiotic foods such as sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, some yoghurts and cheeses or take a probiotic supplement. When taking a probiotic supplement, it is important to choose a high-quality product that will genuinely diversify and nourish your gut.
At The Gut Co, we have created high-quality probiotic daily supplements containing many vitamins and other nutrients using multi-layered time-release technology that allows the ingredients to be released at the optimum time for your body to absorb and make use of them.
The formulas are clinically proven to benefit your gut health and positively impact your overall health. Gut Care is beneficial for digestive issues, Immune Boost for helping immune function and Skin Health to nourish your skin from the inside-out.
Don’t Forget Prebiotics!
The bacteria in our gut must be fed to thrive and survive. Prebiotics act as a food source for the good bacteria, as they arrive in our gut relatively whole. This allows the good bacteria to eat the prebiotics, grow stronger and repopulate, leaving less room for bad bacteria to grow and wreak havoc.
Eat a Nutritionally Rich Diet
Eating foods that benefit your body can have a huge impact on your gut microbiome’s health. Foods high in fibre, anti-inflammatory foods and foods packed with vitamins and minerals can be wonderful food for the gut.
The rule of thumb is the more natural the better; processed foods offer little health benefits compared to natural foods. Organic meats, eggs, vegetables, fruits, brown rice and fish can all be great sources of nutrients so long as you aren’t intolerant to them.
Watch out for Refined Sugars
The bad bacteria in our gut love to feast on sugar. It allows it to grow stronger and repopulate, taking over the good bacteria and causing an imbalance in the gut microbiome.
Cutting out or limiting your intake of sugars such as white bread, cookies, biscuits, chocolate and cakes can weaken your bad bacteria and allow the good bacteria to thrive.
Avoid Antibiotics unless Necessary
Antibiotics kill bacteria; it’s their job to do that to eliminate the bad bacteria causing problems. The issue is that antibiotics cannot distinguish between good and bad bacteria, so kill everything it finds. This can upset the balance of the gut microbiome and leave a non-diverse microbiome behind.
We all need antibiotics from time to time, but only take them when you need them. Overuse can do more harm than good. Taking probiotics alongside antibiotics can be helpful to re-diversify the gut microbiome and not allow it to become imbalanced.
The gut is a complex place, and the many hormones we each have can be difficult to understand. The key thing to understand is that a healthy gut can benefit your hormone production and if nothing else, rule out that as the cause of a hormone imbalance.
Related content: Thyroid and Gut Health Connection