The relationship between your gut health and your hormones
Our body’s systems are all connected, but did you know there is a special relationship between your hormones and gut? In this article we’ll take a look at how the gut and hormones are linked and how you can use that knowledge to improve the health of your whole body.
How the gut and hormones are linked
1. The gut breaks down nutrients required for hormones
Hormones are chemical messengers produced by your body that have a huge influence on your physical and phycological health. Hormones require a nutritious diet, otherwise they can't function properly. For example, functioning thyroid hormones need enough selenium, iodine and iron.
Your gut health is influenced by your microbiome, a collection of microorganisms found in your intestines. All of us have around 200 different species of bacteria, fungi and viruses living in our gut, and they are mostly beneficial. Research has found the gut microbiome plays a crucial role in our health and influences whether we develop everything from metabolic disease to gastrointestinal disorders and some cancers.
Your gut is also where you break down and absorb nutrients, so if your gut microbiome is unbalanced it can’t carry out this vital task. This can result in nutrient deficiencies, which can in turn cause hormone imbalances.
2. The gut helps eliminate hormones
Your microbiome is also involved with eliminating certain hormones after they are no longer needed. If your microbiome is unhealthy – which could be due to a nutritionally deficient diet but also factors like stress, toxin exposure and antibiotic use – it can influence how your hormones are eliminated.
One of the best examples of this is the estrobolome. This is a group of microbes that plays a role in regulating the levels of oestrogen circulating in your body.
“An unhealthy intestine with an overproduction of β-glucuronidase can lead to an oestrogen overload,” explains Catarina Viega, Health Practitioner and resident microbiome expert at Omnos. Oestrogen overload may cause symptoms including PMS, heavy periods and weight gain.
3. A permeable gut lining disrupts hormone levels
Inside your stomach is extensive intestinal lining which could cover an area the size of 372 square meter. When it is functioning, it acts as a barrier that controls what gets absorbed into the bloodstream. But under the right circumstances (chronic stress, heavy alcohol use and the standard American diet) our gut lining can develop holes or cracks, which allows things like toxins and semi digested food into the tissues below.
This can lead to chronic inflammation which can wreak havoc on the body, including your hormone levels. If not corrected, research has found intestinal permeability may lead to developing autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves’ disease.
How to restore optimal gut and hormone health
The good news is, there is plenty you can do to improve your gut and hormone health. Here are three steps you can take.
1. Take a test
If you are experiencing any symptoms of poor gut or hormone health, a test can be a good place to start. Symptoms may include gas, bloating, heartburn, weight changes, fatigue, skin conditions or food intolerances. It could also include menstrual cycle or fertility problems. “Studies show that PCOS, endometriosis, metabolic syndrome, ovarian cancer, menopause, postmenopausal osteoporosis can show significant alterations in the gut microbiome, “says Catarina.
Two tests you can easily take at home for those symptoms are the Microbiome Test and the Hormone Test. When used in conjunction with one another, they can reveal a lot about the health of your gut and hormones. The latest Omnos system update can now connect the dots between the two tests, to give you more insight than ever before.
"The Omnos platform allows you to assess how data points from multiple tests, symptoms and genetic data coalesce into health outcomes. By evaluating where data from different tests agree, we can either accentuate or dilute scores based on the probability a certain result likely exists. We can also add symptoms into the mix to give further confidence and use genetics to assess your sensitivity and risk to a certain result," says Christian Thomson, Head of Product at Omnos.
Combined, the microbiome and (DUTCH) hormones tests provide details on over 160 different biomarkers; pay special attention to beta-glucuronidase.
“Beta-glucuronidase is an enzyme that is synthesized by gut bacteria and breaks down complex carbohydrates. It can also act to uncouple fat-soluble molecules such as toxins, carcinogens, hormones and drugs after they have been packaged for excretion by the liver. This may then permit their reabsorption in the body. Evaluating beta-glucuronidase may be of specific interest when evaluating levels of hormones, fat-soluble vitamins including D, and phytonutrients,” says Sue Camp, Registered Nutritional Practitioner and resident Hormones Expert at Omnos.
Elevated levels can be caused by dysbiosis or a western diet high in red meat and protein. These can be rebalanced by the use of probiotics and dietary fibre. Calcium-D-glucarate has also been used as an intervention to address high levels. It is the calcium salt of D-glucaric acid found in fruits and vegetables e.g., apples, grapefruit and cruciferous vegetables.
2. Focus on a nutrient-dense diet with plenty of fibre
Support your gut and hormone health with a diet that is highly nutritious, contains adequate ratios of macronutrients and plenty of vitamins and minerals. Be sure to add in plenty of fibre too. Fibre is a type of carbohydrate your body cannot digest and there are two types: soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fibre dissolves in water and turns into a gel-like substance which is digested by the bacteria in the large intestine. Research shows this can help to lower glucose levels and decrease fat absorption, as well as lower cholesterol. In turn this may help reduce your risk of heart disease. Soluble fibre will also feed the good bacteria in your gut. Increase your fibre intake by eating a good variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains. To focus on soluble fibre specifically, try sweet potato, oats, avocado and root vegetables.
3. Consider other lifestyle factors
A range of different lifestyle factors - including stress levels, dehydration, sleep quality and sunlight exposure - play an important role in maintaining a functioning gut, which can support healthy hormones. Pay attention to any such areas that could be improved in your life.
In conclusion, the gut and the hormones are intrinsically linked. If you’re suffering from symptoms of poor gut or hormone health, don’t ignore them. There are plenty of steps you can take to get a better understanding of your body and ultimately improve your health.
Visit the Omnos shop to checkout the tests mentioned in the article.
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