If you ever wondered why balancing female hormones can be so tricky, you are not alone. I talk to women every day who are “doing all the things they’re supposed to do” – eating healthy, exercising, taking supplements, even taking bioidentical hormones, but are still experiencing more symptoms.
What’s the deal?
Well, the reason hormones are so tricky to balance is because every system in the body is connected to your hormone health. So, if you have a problem in your liver, it’s a hormone problem. Chronic back pain, that turns into a hormone problem, anxiety… hormone problem, leaky gut… hormone problem. I could go on and on, but you get the point.
In my own life, I experienced this first hand. I spent years chasing my hormone issues and infertility, but it wasn’t until I worked on my gut, immune and detoxification systems, that I was able to achieve balance, regain my energy, sanity and become a mom!
It took me years – decades really – to make the connection.
Today, I want to share with you exactly how your gut is connected to your hormones.
How Your Gut Can Negatively Affect Your Hormone Health
The hormones that control your appetite are affected when your gut is unhealthy because it promotes the growth of unhealthy bacteria. This imbalance between good bacteria and bad bacteria alters the levels of ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin is like an alarm that rings every time you’re hungry and it’s time to eat, and leptin lets you know you’re full and it’s time to put the fork down. Interestingly, an imbalance between healthy and unhealthy bacteria in your gut also affects which foods you crave and what foods you enjoy eating.
Did you also know that around 80% of serotonin and melatonin in your body are made in your gut? An imbalance in serotonin (the happiness hormone) and melatonin (which optimizes sleep) get completely out of whack when you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Leaky Gut Syndrome or other complications with your digestive tract. An imbalance in your hormones is directly responsible for your happiness and quality of sleep, which may result in feelings of depression, anxiety, trouble sleeping and more.
Suffering from leaky gut syndrome or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) also causes your inflamed gut to create an increased stress response in your body. You become easily triggered increasing cortisol levels. Many studies have shown that taking probiotics daily can lower your cortisol levels and reduce your stress response.
When your gut health is off, so are your Estrogen levels. When you suffer from IBS or leaky gut syndrome it’s impossible for your body to effectively remove estrogen from your body, keeping it in circulation, which causes an Estrogen Dominance. A dominance in estrogen causes an imbalance of estrogen and progesterone, which needs to be in perfect balance in order for your body to properly support menstrual functions, promote fat burning, and lower fluid retention. Estrogen dominance also alters your weight, stress levels, sleep patterns, appetite, and slows your metabolism. Conversely, all 3 types of estrogen is made in the gut, particularly Estriol, which is a weaker estrogen now understood to be protective against many cancers and Estradiol, which is linked to longevity.
If your gut is unhealthy, your body’s ability to convert the T4 thyroid hormone into the more effective T3 form is compromised because this function occurs in your gut. This explains why many women with digestive issues who take Synthroid, a synthetic type of the T4 hormone, often have issues converting it into T3. Additionally, diseases such as hyperthyroidism, caused by an imbalance in the thyroid, can result in symptoms such as anxiety, thinning of the hair, slowed metabolism, irregular periods, sporadic weight loss or weight gain, insomnia and more. Leaky gut or increased gut permeability allows inflammatory or foreign proteins to pass through the gut lining into the bloodstream, which can trigger an autoimmune response, leading to autoimmune issues such as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.
Your blood glucose level is also directly related to the health of your digestive tract. The healthier your gut is, the more stable your blood glucose level, the less sugar, and sweets you crave, and the less insulin you release. Inversely, an unhealthy gut can create an insulin resistance, lowering your body’s fat burning ability. Unsurprisingly, an unhealthy gut can also be blamed for diabetes, vision loss, fatigue, weight gain, skin problems, etc.
Stay tuned for my next post where I will share some great ways to improve gut health, and in turn, impact your hormone balance.