The importance of gut health for overall health and wellbeing has been growing more and more in public consciousness in recent years. One area you may be surprised to learn gut health directly impacts is hormonal health and the functionality of the menstrual cycle. If you are wanting to work on optimising your hormonal health, don’t overlook the gut!
When we refer to ‘gut health’, we are talking about the health of the entire ecosystem beginning in your mouth and ending at the colon. This one complicated tube is responsible for breaking down, assimilating and utilising all nutrients that go into your body, and getting rid of what is no longer needed, plus much more!
So how does the health of our gut impact hormones?
● Nutrients: Maintaining hormonal health and a thriving reproductive system requires an abundance of bioavailable nutrients! This includes vitamins, minerals and macronutrients. When gut health is compromised, it can impact nutrient absorption and ripple out into the health of our hormones and reproductive system.
● Elimination: circulating hormones that have been used are then eliminated via the bowel. This is one reason of many as to why regular bowel movements are so important. Slow bowel movements or constipation slows down the elimination of hormones which can then become reactivated and recirculated via the large intestine. This can be especially problematic with the recirculation of oestrogen as it can lead to oestrogen dominant associated symptoms.
● Inflammation: a permeable gut lining (aka ‘leaky gut’) can give rise to inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation is associated with most chronic diseases and this can include issues with the menstrual cycle and reproductive system such as compromised hormone production, period pain, endometriosis, adenomyosis, PCOS, PMS, fertility and pregnancy complications.
● Microbiome: the microbiome plays a role in the activation and utilisation of all hormones in the body. There is a specific category of bacteria within the microbiome called the estrobolome that directly influences oestrogen levels and how effectively oestrogen is utilised and eliminated by the body.
There is much more to say on this topic! Just remember, don’t forget about your gut!