The Gut, the most talked about system of the body that has been receiving a lot of attention over the past few years – and to a good extent. We are now beginning to understand the importance and the role that the gut has on our everyday life. One of the key factors of the gut is the part it plays in our hormones.
Your gastrointestinal tract or the ‘Gut’ includes all of the organs within the digestive system. There are various mechanics that occur in your gut that can directly impact your hormonal balance.
Painful periods? Acne? Low moods? – It could be your gut
The digestive system was once considered relatively “simple”. However, recent studies have shown that there’s a lot we didn’t know about the gut and its varying functions.
The gastrointestinal tract, or “the gut”, plays a vital role in balancing and aiding our overall health. There are hundreds of microbiomes living in the digestive tract and most people contain around 300 to 500 different species of bacteria. These communicate with your brain through various nerves, meaning if your levels are off, your skin, mood, metabolism, and ability to fight infections will ultimately be compromised.
The gut also plays an integral role in regulating hormones. Oestrogen— one of the two main sex hormones that women have— is responsible for female physical features and reproduction. Oestrogen also influences the regulation of body fat, cardiovascular health, bone turnover and memory function. The connection between estrogen and the gut is with the estrobolome— A specific group of intestinal bacteria that is capable of metabolising and regulating the body’s circulation of estrogen.
For your hormones to be balanced, the estrobolome microbes maintain estrogen homeostasis by producing an enzyme that reactivates estrogen. However, if you are experiencing microbial imbalance, this can lead to an excessive production of enzymes.
When your body is creating too much estrogen you could experience symptoms such as:
- Irregular periods
- Heavy bleeding
- Low libido
The majority of serotonin— a brain hormone that stabilises your mood, and feelings of happiness— is also made in the gut. That’s why poor gut health has been proven to impact your ability to produce this hormone.
Serotonin is reliant on estrogen because when estrogen is at its highest (during ovulation), serotonin increases its number of receptors within the brain to boost your mood. When you are coming to the end of your period and your estrogen and serotonin levels decrease, women commonly notice a drop in their mood and an increase in appetite. If you have oestrogen dominance, the stages from ovulation to your period are even more difficult, with many experiencing higher levels of depression and anxiety.
How to recognise the symptoms of an unhealthy gut
- An upset stomach: Gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea and heartburn can all be signs of an unhealthy gut. If you are experiencing these symptoms, your gut may be struggling to eliminate waste and process foods easily.
- A high-sugar diet: A diet high in processed foods and refined sugars can alter the amount of good bacteria in your gut. This imbalance can make it challenging to curb your sugar cravings.
- Unintentional weight changes: Gaining or losing weight without changing your diet or exercise routine may suggest you have signs of an unhealthy gut. An imbalanced gut impairs your body’s ability to absorb nutrients and store fat.
- Sleep disturbances: Insomnia and poor sleep are often linked to an imbalanced gut. As we discussed earlier, serotonin, which is made in the gut, affects your mood and sleep.
- Skin irritation: Conditions like eczema can be related to an impaired gut. Inflammation in the gut can cause the leaking of certain proteins that harshly impact the skin.
- Food intolerances: Food intolerances can be a consequence of poor digestion. Research suggests that common food allergies could be caused by poor quality bacteria in the gut. This leads to bloating, gas, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and even nausea.
How do you improve your gut health? Follow these simple steps
Aside from consulting a medical professional (which we highly recommend as your first port of call), here are a few simple ways you can even out the imbalance.
- Increase your intake of resistant starch and prebiotics: They feed the happy and friendly bacteria in your intestine which can lead to an improvement in the function of your digestive system. Simply add foods such as oats, cooked and cooled rice, potatoes, beans, legumes, and green bananas into your diet.
- Consume Iluminos’ Gut Replenish: It’s the all in one gut-loving goodness product that contains: Organic Green Banana Resistant Starch, Sunfiber and an Organic fermented blend of the probiotics
- Fermented foods: Increase your intake of fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir and Tempeh as they are rich in probiotic bacteria.
- Eat more plant-based foods as they are mostly high in fibre: Soluble and Insoluble fibre is vital to the digestive system and bowel movements whilst also supporting the gut microbiome in its journey through the intestinal system. Foods such as avocado, apples, lentils, sweet potato and figs.
- Eat Cruciferous Vegetables Regularly: This family of vegetables contains indole-3-carbinol which is known for its detoxification properties. Foods like broccoli, Brussel sprouts, kale, cabbage, cauliflower and watercress support your metabolism of estrogen via the liver.
- Exercise: Working out reduces stress by releasing endorphins that boost your post-training mood. That’s why you always feel energised and happy after moving your body! It can also lower the levels of estrogen circulating in your body. We recommend long walks, Pilates, yoga, swimming and/or running
- Reducing your alcohol intake: Moderate intake of alcohol is okay! However, heavy drinking can increase the level of circulating oestrogen. This can impact the menstrual cycle, fertility and your gut microbiome.
We know it’s a lot to take in. Taking the right supplements and eating healthier is a great way to start. It’s important to remember that your gut has various functions, all of which work in tandem to keep your hormone levels balanced and your body healthy. To boost your happy microbiomes and be the best version of yourself, an easy way to start is integrating Iluminos’ Gut Replenish powder into your daily morning routine.