So, you think your sex hormones are out of whack? What if I told you that the health of your gut is key to balancing your sex hormones? “What??”, you say, “what’s my gut got to do with it?” Let me tell you, it’s got everything to do with it.
Hormones are the messengers in our bodies that help all organ systems communicate. Hormones are SUPER COMPLEX and truly fascinating. So, I’m going to try to simplify this as best as I can.
Your whole digestive system, starting with your mouth, is a place that’s meant to break down and digest the foods you eat and absorb all the energy, nutrients, and fiber from that food. It is part of your immune system and helps protect you from pathogens, bad bacteria, parasites, and viruses. Your digestive system is essential in removing toxins and waste from your body.
If your gut has the proper balance of bacteria, it can do its job; you may have heard the term microbiome – this is what it relates to. But there are certain bacteria that can show up and disrupt sex hormones production and how the body uses them. Specifically, there is an enzyme called b-glucuronidase which is produced by bacteria. An overabundance of this enzyme will stop the body from eliminating estrogen properly and it will recycle it back into the body. Not something we want to have happen. This can lead to estrogen dominance. Bacteria can also produce compounds that mimic hormones and compete for receptor sites on cells.
Another issue other than bacteria overgrowth is inflammation of the digestive tract. When the digestive tract is inflamed, it reduces the body’s ability to absorb the nutrients needed for the creation of the sex hormones. Some hormones rely on other hormones for their production. It’s a downstream effect. So, for example, if the body isn’t able to produce the hormone androstenedione, it won’t be able to convert to testosterone, which then causes an imbalance in the rest of the sex hormones. Addressing this inflammation is key and needs to be priority.
I mentioned bacteria and inflammation, the digestive system also helps us detox and eliminate. When the liver and gallbladder are sluggish our bodies aren’t detoxing properly. Wastes and toxins get backed up, which can include excess sex hormones. Supporting the function of the liver and gallbladder are another piece to balancing sex hormones.
When we address the issues we have with our guts first, the imbalances with our hormones can sometimes level out. This is why we don’t jump right to testing the hormones first as they rely so heavily on the health of the gut.