Hormone regulation

True health starts in your gut: Hormone regulation

Millions of people suffer from symptoms of hormone imbalance, but few are aware that a healthy gut is the secret to reversing those symptoms and restoring optimal hormone regulation.

What is a hormone?

Hormones are molecules that your endocrine organs produce to send messages around your body. While we often think of sex hormones such as estrogen, testosterone and progesterone, the truth is that there are many more hormones regulating processes including hunger, body temperature, glucose metabolism, blood pressure, circadian rhythm, stress response, and more. Hormone-secreting endocrine glands are located all over the body and include organs such as adrenals, ovaries, testes, thyroid, pancreas, parathyroid, pineal, pituitary, and hypothalamus.

How are hormones regulated by the gut?

The health of your gut is critical to healthy hormone balance. Your gut affects hormones in three primary ways:

1. Microbiome

The microbiome (over 100 trillion bacteria, virus, fungi, and protozoa living in your gut) affects countless hormone functions throughout the body and has been referred to as the “neglected endocrine organ.” In fact, the bugs in your gut are affecting everything from your stress response, to metabolism and PMS.

2. Immune system and inflammation

In recent years, researchers have discovered that the gut may have more to do with hormones that we once thought. We’ve long known that an imbalanced immune system and increased inflammation can wreak havoc on hormone production and regulation due to increased inflammatory molecules damaging hormone-producing glands. However, newer studies reveal a bidirectional relationship where estrogen-producing sites, found in the gut tissue, can impact the GALT (gut associated lymphoid tissue), therefore impacting overall immunity and inflammatory function.

3. Excretion of excess hormones

Before we can understand the importance of the gut, we have to back up and remember that the liver is in charge of metabolizing hormones. As hormones are produced by endocrine glands, they build up in the blood stream and this excess is referred to as “endotoxins,” or toxins created by your own body. Your liver metabolizes excess hormones and prepares them to leave the body by attaching them to bile molecules and sending them to your holding tank, the gallbladder. This is where the gut comes in.

Hormone-carrying bile is secreted into the gut where it has two fates; it will either help you absorb dietary fat, in which case the hormone-bile molecules is reabsorbed into your bloodstream, or the bile will attach to soluble fiber in your food and be carried into your colon and then your toilet. The more soluble fiber you eat, the better you excrete excess hormones.

Symptoms of hormone imbalance

Imbalanced hormones or an impaired endocrine system cause any of the following signs or symptoms:

  • Weight gain or sudden weight loss
  • Muscle weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Hump of fat between the upper shoulder blades
  • Acne, dry skin, red or purple stretch marks, or skin tags
  • Hair loss or hair growth in unexpected places
  • Muscle and aches and stiffness or trigger points
  • Joint pain
  • Temperature changes or increased sweating
  • Constipation or loose stool
  • Changes in heart rate
  • Frequent urination
  • Mood changes including depression, anxiety, and panic attacks
  • Increased or decreased hunger or thirst
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Water retention, bloating, and puffiness
  • Rounded face
  • Infertility

How can I support optimal hormone balance?

Maintaining a healthy gut is probably the most effective way to optimize hormone production and excretion. Think of it this way: you want your endocrine glands to produce enough hormones to communicate and then you want those hormones to move out of your system. You can support the gut-hormone relationship by:

  1. Eating a whole food diet rich in plants and prebiotic fibers
  2. Avoiding toxins and alcohol that reduce digestion, liver and gut function
  3. Utilizing probiotics to support microbiome health
  4. Eating slowly and in a low-stress environment
  5. Drinking plenty of water
  6. Avoiding food sensitivities that irritate gut-immune function
  7. Reducing or eliminating refined sugars
  8. Consuming an average of 20 grams of soluble fiber daily

Where Florasophy comes in

When it comes to hormone balance, Florasophy is an insurance policy to make sure you are getting adequate soluble fiber each day, helping to remove excess hormones from your body. In particular, taken between meals, Florasophy can be most effective in supporting a healthy hormone balance.

About Megan Barnett, MS, CNS

Megan Barnett, MSMegan Barnett is a functional medicine practitioner in Portland, Oregon. In her clinical practice, she helps patients identify the root cause of their health problems, then designs individualized and evidence-based approaches to alleviate symptoms and help their bodies heal. She has a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from Kansas State University and a Master of Science in Nutrition and Functional Medicine from University of Western States.