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The link between gut health and hormone imbalance

How your body digests food is largly linked to gut health and hormone imbalance.

Did you know: If you improve gut health, you can similtaniously improve hormone health? Gut health directly effects your endocrine system (hormones) in a way that poor gut health can effect sleep, your menstrual cycle, and even mental health!

The gut, aka, the second brain makes up about 70% of your immune system! It’s a very important system to keep healthy, not only for hormonal health, but for overall health as well.

Before you skip to the part where I tell you how to heal your gut for optimal hormone balance, its valuable to know what happens to food when you eat it. Where food goes, how it is processed, and what organs are involved in the process!

In other words: what happens between the eating part and the pooping part?!!

The importance of gut health and how to improve gut health.
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Disclaimer: This is not medical advice and should not be taken as such. I am not a doctor and do not claim to be as these are solely based on my experiences. Please consult your family doctor before considering any recommendations listed in this post. Thanks!

FIRST THINGS FIRST, HOW DOES THE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM WORK?

The digestive systems job is to convert the food we eat into energy available for cell use (to be absorbable through the blood stream)

  • Fats are converted into fatty acids
  • Protein turns is into amino acids
  • Carbohydrates get converted into glycose (simple sugar)

To get a mental picture of what the digestive system looks like: picture a 10-meter-long muscular tube that begins at the mouth, ends at the anus, and has digestive organs attached along the way. It looks a little something like this.

Learn how the digestive system works in this informative video by TED talks!

PARTS OF THE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM

Mouth and oesophagus: your teeth first grind the food into smaller bits for the food to easily transfer down the oesophagus and into the stomach for further digestion.

Fun fact: your saliva has a special chemical called an enzyme that starts breaking down carbohydrates in the mouth into simple sugars! Did you know that?!

Stomach: The stomach is a large muscular bag filled with gastric juices called stomach acid. When food enters, it is churned in stomach acid to further break it down before it enters the first part of the small intestines called the duodenum.

Small intestine: In the duodenum, more digestive enzymes are mixed from the pancreas and bile from the liver to further break down the food. Food is then passed into the lower part of the small intestine where nutrients are absorbed by little finger-like projections called villi. This is where nutrients will enter the bloodstream.

Pancreas: The producer of Insulin! The pancreas is one of the largest glands in the body and is responsible for regulating blood sugar levels. When there is too much sugar in the blood stream, the pancreas will excrete insulin to counter balance it!

Liver: the liver has a few purposes:

  1. Break down fats using bile
  2. Process carbs and proteins
  3. Filter toxins (environmental toxins, drugs, alcohol)
  4. Generate glucose for energy

Large intestine:

After the nutrients have been absorbed, the waste is passed through he large intestines. The waste is then stored in the rectum and passed out through the anus.

Sorry for the TMI but its just a body! That’s what happens to your poopJ

THE GUT AND HORMONE IMBALANCES: do you have an unhealthy gut?

Your gut health is largely dependent on the ratio of good to bad bacteria located in the digestive tract. We all have “good” and “bad” Bacterias circulating in our system. However, When the bad bacterial ratio starts to increase, we can see digestive issues such as:

  • Bloating and gas
  • Stomach pain or cramping
  • Food sensitivity
  • Constipation
  • Brain fog
  • Diarrhea
  • Skin problems (eczema, acne)
  • Immune system disorders

Have you noticed any or multiple symptoms of poor gut health?

HOW GUT HEALTH EFFECTS HORMONES

The hormone to gut connection is intercut. Hormones are chemical messengers produced by your endocrine system. A major player in the secretion of hormone is the hypothalamus (gland located in the brain). It is known to be the controller of the endocrine system. However, research has shown that gut health has a large influence on the endocrine system. A “Vital endocrine organ” the gut not only produces hormones but also can signal to endocrine glands how much of each hormone to produce. Pretty cool!

The gut can effect nearly every hormone in the body! Hormones like:

Estrogen

The gut has shown to contain a collection of microbes called estrobolome which are able to metabolize estrogen. These microbes are generally lacking in women with estrogen dominance which could be due to poor liver detoxification and poor gut health.

Insulin

We all know of type 2 diabetes, the disease the enables the body to correctly regulate blood sugar levels. When we have chronically elevated blood sugar levels, the condition will progress into type 2 diabetes if not reversed.

Insulin is excreted by the pancreas in a response to high sugar in the blood. To avoid type 2 diabetes from progressing, focus on a low sugar intake. Fibre, fats, and proteins are the nutrients to focus on to regulate insulin levels. Eat balanced meals and if you are going to eat a food high in sugar, make sure it is AFTER a balanced meal, this will lessen the blood sugar spike and insulin response.

Check out these healthy blood sugar balancing meals!

Melatonin

Melatonin is your sleepy time hormone! When exposed to darkness, melatonin will begin producing at the end of the day to help you fall asleep. However, to make enough melatonin for your body to have a good night rest, it needs plenty of serotonin (happy hormone).

95% of your serotonin hormone is produced in the gut!

How to improve Gut Health

The answer you have all bee waiting for! How to impove gut health and balance hormone levels! All of these tips and trick will help you feel better, sleep better, and have an overall healthier body

Eat a balanced diet of protein, fats, and carbs (high in fibre) to manage blood sugar levels and reduce insulin responses to the food you digest.

Manage stress levels. Our stress hormone (cortisol) is responsible for the “fight or flight” response in our gut. It is the feeling you get when your nervous or in danger. The chronic secretion of cortisol leads to gut issues and food sensitivities. Manage stress through activities like Meditation, deep breath work, getting enough sleep, and regular exercise (not too much).

Eat fermented foods daily. Fermented foods reduce inflammation in the digestive tract. Additionally, fermented foods contain a diverse collection of active probiotics to help with the production of good bacteria in the gut.

Fibre! Fibre gets things moving down south and helps keep you regular. For estrogen domminant ladies, get your fibre in!

Excercise daily. Getting your daily dose of exercise in will help with regularity and digestion.

Supplementation

I do not recommend trying to fix your gut health soley through supplementation. They can be usful in addition to the tips mentioned above. However, taking a probiotic everyday can make your digestiv tract relyant on those probiotics. This dowregulates the production of good bacteria your body is supposed to make on its own. Just a little food for thought:)

On days where I know im not getting enough gut healthy foods I will take these supplements to help with digestion:

CONLUSION

Listen to this ted talks for more information on why gut health is so important and how to improve gut health through lifestyle and dietary changes

Gut health effect just about everything from mood to hormone balance. Therefore, its crucial to keep your digestive tract clear and healthy! Through the tips I mentioned above and supplementing when needed, you can get your gut health up to par in no time!

How do you improve your gut health? If there is anything you would add to my list, leave it in the comments bellow!

References:

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/digestive-system

https://www.missamerica.org/wellness/the-surprising-link-between-health-and-hormones/

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