The Gut and Hormone Connection

By Iuliana Cotocel


The gut impacts our overall health more than we realize because there is a close relationship between our hormones and the microorganisms living in the digestive tract. The good news is that science is finally beginning to understand the link between hormones and the gut, and as a result we have a better grasp of how to support gut and hormone health, to ensure optimal body functioning.

What are hormones?

Hormones are molecules produced by the endocrine system. They send messages to the various tissues and organs in the body to control their functions and processes. As a result, hormones closely regulate how all the systems in the body work. When hormonal balance is compromised, bodily functions are also affected. This can result in some mild issues like inflammation [1] and PMS, or more serious issues like auto-immune conditions, infertility and cancer.

What is the Gut?

The gut is the digestive tract, but more specifically in this context, it refers to the microorganisms living in the digestive tract. The gut has long been thought of as just digestive organ, but in recent studies, some interesting revelations have been made.
The microbiome (microorganisms in the gut) has an effect that extends beyond the digestive tract. These microorganisms are closely connected to the brain [2], the immune system [3], and most importantly, our hormones [4].

How are Hormones and the Gut Connected?

The hormone and gut connection works both ways. The gut microbiome is influenced by estrogen levels, but it also affects estrogen.
Estrogen can bind to special receptors in intestinal walls, which influences intestinal transport and permeability. As a result, estrogen and its receptors serve an important role in the development of digestive conditions like peptic ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease, and irritable bowel syndrome [5].
On the other hand, the gut also greatly affects estrogen levels. Specific organisms in the gut microbiome have a direct effect on estrogen, they are called the Estrobolome. An imbalanced estrobolome (also called gut dysbiosis) causes imbalances in estrogen levels. When estrogen homeostasis is compromised, chronic diseases begin to develop [6].

Consequences of Hormonal Imbalances:

Hormonal imbalances, especially in estrogen, can cause a vast array of conditions. Although estrogen is mostly thought of as a reproductive hormone, estrogen-mediated diseases are diverse and include metabolic syndrome, bone disease, and some cancers. 
For instance, science has shown that conditions like endometriosis [7] and polycystic ovary syndrome [8] are closely associated with the gut biome. In PCOS, estrogen levels are too low, whereas, in endometriosis, estrogen levels are too high. Healing the gut biome is a promising treatment that can not only help with these serious conditions, but also with issues caused by hormonal imbalances, such as acne, mood, cycle, inflammation, and PMS. 

Natural alternatives for Gut and Hormone Health:

To balance hormonal health, a balanced gut is necessary. The good news is, it’s pretty easy! Focusing on living a healthy lifestyle with the right nutrition is the key to balancing the gut and subsequently balancing hormonal health. Staying away from endocrine disruptors and excessive antibiotic is just as crucial.
Healthy habits like sleeping regularly, practicing relaxation techniques, eating a whole foods diet, and keeping an adequate level of physical activity are all amazing ways to balance the gut. Living a healthy lifestyle helps to fight oxidative stress, supports body detoxification, balances stress levels, and fights inflammation. This restores balance in the gut, which in turn balances the hormones and our overall health.
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