Can gut issues contribute to hormone imbalances?

Publisher: Wellness Magazine, Aug 2016

Natural Health tips from the College of Natural Health

Did you know: An overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria in the gut (‘dysbiosis’) can contribute to hormonal imbalances?

Many (if not most) women struggle with symptoms and conditions related to imbalances in their reproductive hormones: acne, PMS, endometriosis, infertility, mood imbalances, brain fog and water retention, to name just a few.

Two primary considerations for hormonal balance that are often overlooked are gut health and toxic overload. In allopathic healthcare these aspects are seemingly unrelated to hormone systems, whereas a holistic approach considers both of these as key drivers in hormonal dysregulation

Oestrogen, one of the primary female reproductive hormones, is recycled in the liver and then attached to a specific component, glucuronide, to form a complex ready for excretion through the gut. If there is an overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria in the gut, they may produce an enzyme (beta glucuronidase) that clips oestrogen off from glucuronide, rendering it free and readily available for re-uptake into circulation. This re-uptake of oestrogen may increase circulating oestrogen levels and contribute to an imbalance of oestrogen and progesterone levels, also known as ‘oestrogen dominance’.

The body desires a state of balance and harmony between oestrogen and progesterone and therefore a state of oestrogen dominance may contribute to a myriad of health issues (including PMS and other hormone-related conditions). Sufficient fibre and water intake, alongside a high quality probiotic supplement, is essential to support a healthy microflora environment in the gut and promote regular bowel movements, thereby supporting excretion of excess oestrogen from the body. High fibre foods include: organic vegetables and fruit, milled flax seeds, whole rolled oats and chia seeds.

Irregular bowel movements may prevent excretion of oestrogen and introduces another pathway for oestrogen to be reabsorbed into circulation. Irregular bowel movements may also prevent recycled toxins from being excreted through the gut. This may, in similar fashion to oestrogen reabsorption, cause a re-uptake of toxins into circulation and increase the amount of toxins circulating or being stored in the body.

Toxins may act as endocrine disruptors – in other words, disrupting hormone systems in the body by interfering with communication between hormones, cells, tissues and target organs. This explains why a detoxification program, coupled with gut support and organic food, may effectively support hormone balance in the body.

If you’re experiencing symptoms that relate to hormonal imbalances and your gut health is sub-optimal, I suggest you work alongside a Natural Health Practitioner to uncover what the underlying drivers of gut dysfunction are, so that a personalised program can be developed to support gut health, toxin excretion and hormone balance.

The College of Natural Health in Johannesburg is running a Detox, Cleanse and Weight Loss Short Course on the first two Saturdays in September, where safe and effective detox strategies will be discussed, alongside sustainable and personalised weight loss strategies. For more information:

JEANNE VAN ZYL is a Dietary Educator and a Nutrition Lecturer at CNH (College of Natural Health), which trains students across South Africa in a range of natural therapies.  

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