You might be wondering how gut health and hormones are connected. The answer: they’re intertwined!
Hormones are the body’s chemical messengers, and they play a role in everything from your mood to digestion. However, hormones are also sensitive to stress and other environmental factors. That’s why hormone imbalance is such a common problem with the clients we work with – it can come from many different places.
Symptoms of hormone imbalances can look like:
❌ hormonal acne
❌ heavy periods
❌ mood swings
❌ low libido
❌ slow thyroid
Honestly, the list is long. But there’s good news! Understanding how gut health affects your hormones can help you heal your gut and balance your hormones naturally.
Your Gut’s Role in Hormones
The gut microbiome is the collection of bacteria in our digestive system, which can be up to 100 trillion cells. It’s an extremely important part of our health–so much so that scientists are calling it “a forgotten organ.”
There are two main reasons why:
- The gut microbiome helps us digest food and absorb nutrients from it; without them, we wouldn’t get any energy from our food!
- The gut microbiome also protects us against harmful bacteria and produces essential vitamins like vitamin B12 (which we need for red blood cell production).
The gut contains thousands of bacteria that produce hormones that affect your mood, metabolism and other functions in your body. These bacteria also release chemicals called neurotransmitters, which send signals between our brain cells.
Gastrointestinal hormones are produced by cells in this system and act on other organs through neural, endocrine (hormonal), or immune pathways.
Your gut is an important part of your endocrine system, which regulates hormone levels in the body. The gut microbiome has a direct effect on hormone levels and can either increase or decrease them depending on its composition. For example:
- If there are more “good” bacteria than “bad” in your microbiome, you’ll likely have lower levels of stress hormones like cortisol that contribute to anxiety or depression symptoms
- When there are too many “bad” bacteria in your gut, those microbes may release toxins like LPS (lipopolysaccharide) that cause inflammation throughout your body–and increased inflammation means increased production of stress hormones such as cortisol as well as other inflammatory substances called cytokines that affect mood and appetite regulation
The lining of your intestines contains cells called enteroendocrine cells that produce peptides (a type of protein) called incretins. These hormones help regulate blood sugar levels by increasing insulin production when you eat food with carbohydrates or fat; they also signal satiety (fullness) after eating so you stop eating sooner than if there weren’t any peptide signals being sent from your stomach to other parts of your body.
When you have an imbalance in the gut microbiota (or “gut flora”), it can lead to inflammation throughout your body–including in places like the brain–and cause symptoms such as depression or anxiety. A healthy microbiome helps keep these imbalances under control so they don’t lead to serious health problems down the road!
The Role of Hormones in Digestion
On the other end, hormones are a big part of your body’s function.The hormone system controls digestion, immunity and much more. If your hormones are not working properly, your gut will suffer.
In fact, hormonal imbalances can cause symptoms such as chronic constipation or diarrhea.
Hormones are released by glands in the brain, organs and tissues throughout your body. Hormones travel through the bloodstream and tell cells what to do by attaching themselves to receptors on cell surfaces.
Our bodies get rid of excess or harmful hormones through our bowels (bowel movements). The colon is actually considered one of the main organs for detoxifying substances that could be harmful if they remain in our system too long – including estrogen! If you suffer from hormonal acne, endometriosis or other estrogen driven hormonal conditions, you have to consider your gut health.
How to boost gut health
The gut and hormones are connected in a number of ways, so it’s important to have a healthy gut if you want to balance your hormones. Here are some tips for boosting gut health:
- Eat a diverse diet with lots of fiber, beneficial fats (like avocado, olive oil, etc.) and plenty of vegetables.
- Include probiotic rich foods in your diet (like yogurt, kefir, etc.). Probiotics can also help reduce bloating and gas by keeping bad bacteria from overpopulating the gut. Just make sure not to take too much at once: Too much could lead to diarrhea or nausea instead of feeling better after taking them as intended!
- Get in regular movement–even just 15 minutes daily can help keep your digestive system working properly. Gentle movement like yoga, pilates and walking is great for your GI function
- Avoid stress as much as possible by finding pockets of your day to reduce stress in a way that works for you: meditate, get enough sleep at night and spend time relaxing with friends or family members.
The gut is a complex organ with many functions. The role of the microbiome in hormone balance is an important one, but it’s just one piece of the puzzle.
So if you’re struggling with hormone imbalances, the best place to start is in your gut ⭐️
Life’s too short to struggle with brain fog, low mood or other hormone symptoms that make you feel not like yourself