Gut Health and Hormone Imbalance:
Understanding the Link
Do you often feel fatigued and lethargic? Have trouble losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight? Are you experiencing skin problems and hair loss? All these signs might point to an unhealthy gut.
An unhealthy gut occurs when the gut microbiome becomes unbalanced. There are many reasons this might happen. Diet, stress, and medicine can contribute to imbalances.
Gut health and hormone imbalance also often go hand in hand. Read on to learn more about gut health and how it connects to your hormones.
What Is the Gut Microbiome?
A gut microbiome is a collection of bacteria that reside in our gut. But what is the "gut" exactly?
Your gut is the whole digestive tract, which begins at your mouth and ends with your colon. It contains 10 to 100 trillion microbial cells that make up the microbiome, according to this PubMed study.
Your gut receives, collects, and uses nutrients. It also protects against bad bacteria. In fact, the function of your immune system is directly linked to your gut health. Studies have found that an unhealthy microbiome can lead to autoimmune disorders.
Not only that, but these microbial cells can actually control your mood. An unbalanced gut microbiome can cause depression, anxiety, and other psychological disorders. Research has found that 95% of the serotonin in our bodies is secreted in the gut.
That weight gain we mentioned earlier? Gut health is essential to maintaining a healthy weight. Scientists have observed that the composition of your gut microbiome can predict your risk of obesity. It can also estimate your body's response to weight loss methods. Clearly, maintaining a balanced gut microbiome is essential to healthy living.
Signs of an Unhealthy Gut
Fatigue, weight gain, hair loss, skin problems are all signs of an unhealthy gut. The problem is, they might also be symptoms of other health issues. If you're worried about your gut health, keep an eye out for these telltale warning flags.
Considering your stomach is a crucial aspect of your gut, you'll likely feel some troubles there. Common stomach issues include:
- Consistent bloating
- Frequent burping and gas
- Diarrhea, constipation, or both
- Stomach pain or cramps
- Acid reflux, heartburn, or GERD
Stomach problems could signal an unhealthy gut, but they could also occur due to other ailments. Consider these visual signs as well.
Believe it or not, the way you look may tell you something about your gut health. Look out for these visual signs:
- Hair loss
- Acne or skin rashes
- Eczema or rosacea
- Excessive weight gain
- Trouble losing weight in the belly area, especially
Weight issues and gut problems are usually a package deal. If you've been struggling to lose weight or have gained a lot of pounds recently, you might have an unhealthy gut microbiome.
Since your gut controls a large amount of your immune system, you might experience:
- Sinus problems
- Constant colds and cases of flu
- Autoimmune disorders
- Headaches and migraines
Anyone can experience colds or allergies. We usually take medicine as soon as symptoms show up, but checking your gut health could eliminate the need for medication.
Everyone experiences symptoms differently, but you might also run into these issues:
- Mood swings
- Depression, anxiety, or both
- Brain fog
- Food sensitivities or intolerances
- Yeast infections
- Constant bad breath
- Sugar cravings
If you've read through these lists and checked off a few of the symptoms, it's time to start healing your gut health. Talking to your doctor, getting tested, and taking supplements are ways to go about it. But your gut health might be signaling a more serious problem with hormone imbalance.
How Does Gut Health Impact Hormones?
The gut microbiome and hormones are directly linked. Good gut health equals stable hormone levels. But when your gut is suffering your hormones might get thrown off as well.
Traditionally, scientists thought that our endocrine system was the hormone master. But recent research has found that the gut might actually control the endocrine system. This is huge news!
Your gut is telling other glands in your body how many hormones they should be producing and using. Some of these hormones include:
- Thyroid hormones
- Stress hormones
Let's take a closer look at this group of hormones and how they interact with your gut health.
A study from PubMed shows that gut health is crucial in regulating estrogen circulation. A group of microbial cells called the estrobolome is responsible for this task. When the gut is unhealthy, a deficiency or surplus of estrogen occurs.
Estrogen is a key hormone in regulating:
- Fat composition
- Female reproductive health
- Cardiovascular health
- Bone and cell health
This PubMed study shows that when an unhealthy microbiome creates an estrogen imbalance, it puts you at risk for some major diseases. These include:
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Female reproductive cancers
- Celiac disease
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Estrogen imbalance is something many women struggle with, without even knowing it. Some studies have found that up to 70% of women with a hormonal imbalance may not even know the cause of it.
Do you have sleep troubles? Can't fall asleep or stay asleep at night? Some studies have found a connection between sleep deprivation and gut health.
We know melatonin as the sleep hormone. It's our brain's answer to darkness, and it regulates our sleep patterns. Serotonin plays a big part in the creation of melatonin.
We already know how gut health affects serotonin levels. It's easy to guess what happens to melatonin when you have an unhealthy gut. What's concerning is how often type 2 diabetes, metabolic diseases, and obesity are seen in sleep-deprived people, according to this Plos One study.
Your thyroid is a tiny gland located on the front of your neck. Although it's very small, it's responsible for some pretty essential functions.
The thyroid produces a group of hormones called thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). TSH consists of triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). When your gut is not in good health, the thyroid hormones can't do their job well.
You might feel some of these symptoms:
- Consistent fatigue
- Mood swings
- Anxiety or depression
- Muscle weakness
- Heat or cold intolerance
- Weight gain or loss
- Hair loss
- Throat problems (difficult swallowing, breathing)
- Shortness of breath
An imbalance of T3 and T4 hormones can lead to Hypothyroidism or Hyperthyroidism, which are thyroid diseases.
Norepinephrine and epinephrine are our stress hormones. They control that fight-or-flight response we're all familiar with. Along with serotonin and dopamine, they are very active in the gut.
Altogether, they regulate the microbiome including blood flow and nutrient absorption. When you experience chronic stress, trauma, or PTSD, your stress hormones don't follow the normal pattern.
Usually, after a time of stress, these hormones decrease, and we feel safe and confident again. But when we experience abnormal stress like PTSD, our stress hormones don't get that "I'm safe" message. They remain at a high, disrupting the gut microbiome in the process, according to a PubMed study.
Stress can lead to a person developing:
- Major Depressive Disorder
- Other mood disorders
- Crohn's disease
Of course, psychological disorders develop for a number of reasons. The best thing to do when experiencing these issues is to see a professional for guidance.
2 Ways To Improve Gut Health
An unhealthy gut affects your whole body and wellbeing. When your gut microbiome is struggling, you'll begin to see symptoms cropping up in your daily life. The good news is that there are ways to improve your gut health!
One of the first things people do to fix their gut health is to change their diet. You should aim for a balanced diet, complete with lots of fiber, and avoid inflammatory foods.
Inflammatory foods include:
- Red meat (beef, pork)
- Processed meat (deli meat, sausages)
- Starchy carbs (bread, pastries)
- Sugar (sweet drinks, baked goods)
- Bad fats (fried food, fast food)
Inflammation and certain health issues have a direct connection. For example, heart disease and type-2 diabetes. The best way to combat this is by following an anti-inflammatory diet.
An anti-inflammatory diet focuses on:
- Leafy greens (spinach, kale)
- Good fats (salmon, avocados)
- Vegetables (tomatoes, peppers)
- Fruits (apples, blueberries, cherries)
- Nuts (almonds, cashews)
Whole grains, healthy oils, good quality coffee, and red wine are also important aspects of this diet. Probiotics, consumed through yogurt or kefir, should be included.
Taking daily supplements is an excellent way to heal your gut health without much effort on your part. Some supplements to consider are:
- B vitamins including B1, B3, B6, B9, B12
- Vitamin A, C, D3
- Minerals like zinc, selenium, magnesium
- Adaptogenic ingredients like Ashwagandha and Maca
- Mushrooms like Chaga and Reishi
Of course, you could go out and buy a bottle of each supplement. But that's a costly and time-consuming process. Besides, who wants to spend 30 minutes taking over 20 different supplements?
The solution is to find an all-in-one option that provides the optimal benefits. Knowell is a combination of 28 ingredients perfectly blended to support ideal health.
Ingredients are essential when choosing a multi-supplement. Look for a product that's non-GMO, gluten-free, and vegetarian. You also want to buy a brand that believes in ingredient transparency and educating its customers.
Hormone Balance Begins in the Gut
Gut health and hormone imbalance have a complicated relationship. One influences the other in a constant cycle. Keeping both in good health leads to overall well being.
When your gut is unhealthy, your delicately balanced hormones go haywire. Taking care of your stress levels, eating an anti-inflammatory diet, and choosing the right supplements will keep you in tip-top shape!
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