Did you know that upwards of 40% of women with PCOS also have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?
Did you know that women with irritable IBS have an increased risk of experiencing dysmenorrhea and PMS?
Did you know that those with IBS may have an increased risk of infertility?
This begs the questions of, why is there such a large connection between hormonal health and gut health?
To answer this question we have to look at the different roles of your digestive system.
1. It breaks down food and absorbs nutrients.
Nutrient deficients play a HUGE role in creating hormonal imbalances. they are associated with everything from PMS to PCOS. While nutrient deficiencies may be due to under-consuming nutrient rich foods, it could also be due to poor digestion. If you aren’t breaking down food proper this can lead to poor absorption of nutrients. Poor digestion can also lead to:
- sluggish metabolism
- poor liver detoxification
- low hormone production
How can you support breaking down nutrients properly? By supporting the different phases of digestion!
- Chew your food adequately, around 20-40 bites
- this support the first phase of digestion: salivary enzymes
- Eat meals without distraction + ensure you’re getting enough sodium & potassium through food & mineral mocktail
- this support phase 2 & 3 of digestion: adequate stomach acid and pancreatic enzymes
- Eat foods rich in fiber, bitters (like dandelion root), magnesium, and amino acids like taurine to support healthy bile flow
- Bile flow is essential for breaking down and absorbing fat & fat soluble vitamins in the small intestines
2. It regulates inflammation
The gut is 70-80% of your immune system. The first part is due to the gut barrier being in charge of what to “let in” to the body and what “stays out.” If your gut barrier is compromised this can lead poor regulation of whats “allowed” in and out leading to an increase in inflammation which negatively impacts hormonal health. When our gut barrier function is compromised this is known as “intestinal permeability.”
Secondly, we all have trillions of different microbes/bacteria in our colon known as the gut microbiome. Depending on what we eat we can either have “healthy” gut bugs or “unhealthy” gut bugs. Healthy gut bugs fight and reduce inflammation while unhealthy gut bugs increase inflammation. When we have “too many” unhealthy gut bugs in relation to healthy gut bugs this is called dysbiosis.
Dysbiosis & intestinal permeability are linked to:
- Insulin resistance
- Poor metabolic health
- Increased risk of miscarriage
- Estrogen dominance
So if we want healthy levels of inflammation, which allows for healthy hormonal activity, we need to support healthy gut barrier function & microbiome.
Things that decrease gut barrier function & contribute to intestinal permeability & dysbiosis:
- Artificial sweeteners
- Certain medications (proton pump inhibitors, birth control, antibiotics, aspirin, ibuprofen)
- Low fiber diets
- Hydrogenated oils
- Inflammatory foods (refined flour, excess sugar, high fructose corn syrup, etc)
3. Its eliminates toxins & excess hormones
Your 💩 is your body’s way of getting rid of waste from the body- and this includes everything from heavy metals to excess estrogen!
This is why having a daily bowel movement is essential for healthy hormones.
If you aren’t going to the bathroom DAILY then this can lead to toxin build up & estrogen reabsorption (estrogen dominance).
If you aren’t going to the bathroom daily this may be a factor that is largely contributing to your underlying hormonal imbalance.
Ways to encourage a daily 💩:
- Foods rich in fiber: flax seeds, chia seeds, fruit (especially, pears & apples), vegetables, legumes
- Daily exercise/movement (!!)
- Adequate sleep (7-9 hours)
- MCT oil
- Adequate hydration + minerals (sodium & potassium)
- Vitamin C & Magnesium
- Stress management
I know that was A LOT of information, but if you can take one thing away from this it would be this:
Your gut plays a foundational role in the health of your hormones.
This is why I run a GI Map with almost every client. This is a stool test that can test for markers of how well you are digesting your food (via stomach acid and bile), measures different bacterial strains (so we can see if you have dysbiosis), tests for different pathogens in the gut that may be contributing to inflammation (like H. Pylori or Candida), and whether or not you’re reabsorbing estrogen. As a bonus it can also tell us whether or not your body is making an immune response to gluten!
I hope this helps you to deepen your understanding of just how important your gut health is to your hormonal health!
p.s I am now accepting 1:1 clients! If you feel your gut issues may be the underlying cause of your PMS, PCOS, irregular cycles, acne, etc and you’re ready to dive deeper into how to solve these issues then this is for you!
Wishing you happy hormones,