In recent months, many of us have become familiar with the gut microbiome (the collection of bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract). We understand that maintaining healthy bacteria in the gut can lead to overall wellness. However, it is important to specify that the gut has a strong effect on hormone levels.
Hormones and Gut Connection
Although it may seem strange, the gut and the endocrine system are deeply connected. In fact, part of the gut is defined as the estrobolome, a collection of bacteria in the gut responsible for metabolizing and modulating the body’s estrogen levels. The relation between the estrobolome and other gut bacteria can impact the body’s estrogen levels, which in turn can impact weight, libido, and mood.
There are different forms of estrogen in the body and each fulfills a different role. For women, estrogen helps:
- Regulate body fat
- Aid in reproduction
- Cardiovascular health
- Bone health
- Brain function
For men, estrogen also impacts their reproductive system as it aids in the maturation of sperm and maintenance of libido.
Research indicates that an imbalance of bacteria in the gut, or gut dysbiosis, can be linked to poor functioning of the bodily systems listed above. Moreover, studies suggest that an unhealthy gut increases the risk of estrogen-related diseases such as PCOS, endometriosis, and breast cancer.
Serotonin Production and Mental Health
Studies show that gut health may be linked to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. This is likely due to the fact that 95% of serotonin is produced in the gut. Researchers are also considering the impact of specific gut bacteria on depression and anxiety. There was a study of over 1,000 individuals experiencing depression or considered themselves to have a low quality of life. Results showed that depressed participants were more likely to be missing two specific types of bacteria in their guts: Coprococcus and Dialister. Therefore, imbalances of bacteria in the microbiome can potentially harm the body’s hormonal and mental functions.
Insulin is a hormone that is produced by the pancreas. It regulates the amount of glucose in the blood.
Insulin is also impacted by gut health as it is regulated by the bacteria Lactobacillus reuteri, which is stored in the gut. An imbalance of L. reuteri can negatively affect the gut’s storing of insulin. This can lead to metabolic issues as insulin aids in bodily systems receiving energy.
Causes and Symptoms of Gut Dysbiosis
One of the leading causes of an unhealthy gut is an inflammatory diet that is high in sugar, processed foods, and alcohol. Over time, the gut is not able to absorb nutrients properly and it can lead to food particles and toxins leaking into the body, known as leaky gut syndrome.
Additionally, antibiotics can also lead to an imbalance in the gut as they kill both good and bad bacteria in the microbiome.
Symptoms of poor gut health include:
- Digestive issues (bloating, gas, diarrhea, and/ or constipation)
- Food sensitivities
- Sugar cravings
- Skin rashes/Eczema
- Brain fog
- Autoimmune disorders
- Chronic inflammation
Treating the Root Cause
Because the gut can be a root cause for a myriad of health problems, it is essential to restore gut health for overall wellness. Resolving gut dysbiosis can require an individualized treatment plan that often includes lifestyle and appropriate nutritional support through diet and supplementation. If you suffer from some or all of the indicators of gut dysbiosis mentioned above, seek out a doctor who is familiar with identifying and treating this complex gastrointestinal condition.
At Holtorf Medical Group, our physicians are trained to utilize cutting-edge testing and innovative treatments to uncover and address conditions such as leaky gut syndrome. If you are experiencing chronic gastrointestinal disruption and suspect you may have leaky gut or if you’ve been diagnosed with leaky gut, but aren’t getting the treatment you need, call us at 877-508-1177 to see how we can help you!