If you’re having digestive issues such as bloating, gassiness, constipation, diarrhea, or abdominal discomfort as well as symptoms of imbalanced hormones (like hormonal acne, irregular/painful periods, erratic moods, low libido, pronounced fatigue), there’s a link there! And it’s your gut health. Your gut health has a close relationship with the hormone estrogen. Let’s unpack this!
It all starts with bugs🐛
By now, you’ve probably heard of the body’s microbiome, right? It’s been a hot topic in the wellness realm in the past several years! However, if you aren’t familiar with it, let me summarize:
The microbiome consists of microbes (such as bacteria, parasites, fungi and viruses) that coexist within your body. The microbiome consists of trillions of these “bugs”- some helpful and some potentially harmful. Don’t worry- even healthy bodies contain potentially harmful microbes.
The goal with trying to support your gut microbiome is BALANCE. If the microbiome gets out of balance (meaning too many potentially harmful “bugs” and not enough beneficial ones), the body becomes more susceptible to disease or uncomfortable symptoms. When the beneficial bacteria are in a good balance with any of the potentially harmful bacteria, our bodies are more equipped to prevent and handle infections.
You might be familiar with the microbiome in our gut! It refers to our gut-specific microbes that get boosted with probiotic supplements, probiotic-rich foods, prebiotics and a whole foods, nutrient-dense diet. These good microbes get reduced with antiobiotic use, a processed foods diet, or certain infectious illnesses. This can cause dysbiosis, a fancy word for an imbalance in the microbiota (aka not enough good bacteria).
Did you know that your body is equipped with an estrobolome? This is a microbiome in your gut solely dedicated to metabolizing and regulating your estrogen levels. Estrogen is a hormone primarily made in the ovaries and adrenal glands. Estrogen is necessary for maintaining the health of reproductive tissue, bone health, heart health, memory, cognition, moods, cholesterol levels and much more.https://avivaromm.com/estrobolome/ It’s probably the first hormone that pops in your head when you think of women’s hormone health.
Just like our beneficial gut microbes, our health is at its best when there’s a good balance of estrogen– not too high and not too low. If our estrogen levels get too high, we can experience symptoms such as struggling to maintain a healthy weight, low libido, irregular periods, acne, and erratic moods. If our estrogen levels become too low, we can have sleep disruptions, vaginal dryness, low libido, and loss of bone density (common post menopause).
Yikes. Can you identify with any symptoms from the too low or too high estrogen camps? If so, do you think your gut health is as optimal as it could be?
NEWS FLASH! Your estrobolome can only function well if your gut microbiome is healthy and in good balance. And the cool thing is that healthy estrogen levels are also super supportive of your gut function and help your gut lining to maintain integrity. They have a symbiotic relationship!
If we want well regulated estrogen, we absolutely must focus in on our gut microbiome first.
Symptoms of Dysbiosis
While you may not be having any overt gut symptoms like diarrhea, constipation, bloating, heartburn or abdominal pain (or maybe you are), dysbiosis can show up in other ways. Someone with an imbalanced gut microbiota may not have any gastrointestinal symptoms at all. Dysbiosis can show up in the form of: acne, skin rashes, frequent infections, allergies, sleep issues, fatigue, unexplained weight gain or weight loss, and even anxiety. Did you notice some of these symptoms are also symptoms of hormone imbalance??
So, what do we do??
How to Support Your Gut (and in turn support your hormone health!)
Here are some simple ways for you to be sure you’re keeping your gut microbiome and estrobolome happy:
- Reduce sugar, alcohol, and processed foods in your diet. Unwanted bacteria thrive on sugar, so reduce sugars and alcohol as much as you can. Processed foods have been found to have a negative impact on the good gut flora. Stick with a nutrient-dense, whole foods diet to ensure your not feeding unwanted flora. https://avivaromm.com/estrobolome/
- Eat the rainbow. By expanding the diversity of colorful fruits and vegetables in your diet, you’re providing your good gut flora with food so that they can thrive and multiply.
- Eat organic. The pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides often sprayed on our food can have a negative effect on your hormones and gut microbiome. If you’re able, choose organic produce and meats to avoid this.
- Eat fermented foods daily. Fermented foods, such as kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, beet kvass and kombucha, contain natural probiotics due to the fermentation process. If you can tolerate them, eat a small amount everyday to diversify your gut microbiome. If these foods cause bloating or abdominal discomfort, you may need to get in contact with someone who can test your gut bacteria to see if there’s something needing to be addressed in your gut.
- Limit antibiotics if you can. Antibiotics are life-saving medications! But, they do pose a risk to your gut microbiome as they’re wiping out the bad and the good bacteria. Talk to your doctor about your options if you’re seeking help with an infection of some kind.
- Reduce your stress. Stress impacts the quality of your gut flora as well as your intestinal lining. Try taking deep breaths throughout the day to calm your nervous system. Take some time each day to do something that relaxes you.
Also, a reminder for all those who need to hear it:
You’re doing a great job.
Eating well can be a challenge and a learning curve. Changing habits is hard! You’re doing your best which is awesome. Be kind to yourself and know you’re not alone.
If you need help or advice, send me a message. I would love to hear from you and see what I can do to support you on your health journey!
Take GOOD care,
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Disclaimer: The information presented in this blog post is intended for educational purposes only, and it hasn’t been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information isn’t intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any condition or disease, nor is it medical advice. One should always consult a qualified medical professional before engaging in any dietary and/or lifestyle change.
Corie is a functional nutritionist in Asheville, N.C. She specializes in helping her 1:1 clients with digestive discomfort, fertility struggles, skin inflammation, mood imbalances and more. She believes that a nourishing diet can support the body's innate ability to heal. She's a big fan of grass-fed butter and will not shut up about the gut microbiome.