When I started studying hormones back in the day, I didn’t think I’d also have to study poo and gut health!
But working with women's hormones week in week out, we see gut and digestive issues in 80% of our clients, even if they haven't got obvious symptoms.
That's because there's an inextricable link between hormone health and gut health. Happy gut, happy hormones!
What are symptoms of poor gut health?
Common issues include constipation, diarrhoea, bloating, indigestion, gas, cramps, heartburn, fullness or reflux.
But often you may not have any digestive issues at all, as microbial imbalances can cause symptoms anywhere in the body.
How does gut health impact your hormones?
- Nutrient absorption – hormones need nutrients to work properly. Those nutrients are ingested in our food, but if we can’t absorb them effectively, hormones don’t get what they need.
- Hormone metabolism – some hormones get metabolised in the gut, including thyroid hormones which get converted into their active form there. And oestrogen gets eliminated through the gut.
- Hunger hormones – hormones are secreted in the gut to control appetite, sending signals to the brain that you’re hungry or full (pretty important!). If your gut health is poor, these hunger hormones can get out of control.
- Stress – cortisol suppresses digestive function, and digestive issues raise cortisol – a vicious cycle.
- Leaky Gut – if the intestinal barrier is not intact, toxins and undigested foods can enter the bloodstream and attack your endocrine glands (this is one of the causes of auto-immune Hashimoto’s thyroid disease).
- Constipation can increase your oestrogen levels, as more hormone is re-circulated instead of eliminated.
- Gut bacteria imbalances – can cause all sorts of hormonal issues as well as cravings for sugar and carbs (causing insulin and fat storage).
11 Tips to Improve Your Gut Health
- Eat slowly! Take your time and chew properly – this will help prevent digestive issues from the very start. Try mindful eating.
- Take a sip of Apple Cider Vinegar before eating – this helps to increase stomach acid and aid digestion.
- Remove food triggers – if you suspect you may have a food intolerance (common ones are gluten, dairy, corn, soy, eggs), then go without for at least 3 weeks, re-introduce and see if you get a reaction.
- Increase your fibre – fibre helps to keep your bowels moving and binds to excess oestrogen. Get your fibre from flaxseeds and cruciferousveg and it’s a double whammy!
- Keep hydrated – drink enough water to keep the bowels moving well.
- Eat your Probiotics – try foods like Sauerkraut, fermented vegetables, Kimchi, Kefir, Live Yoghurt, Kombucha.
- Eat Your Prebiotics – prebiotics are foods that FEED your good bacteria. They include green bananas, cooked and cooled potatoes, leeks, onions, garlic, artichokes, asparagus.
- Go easy on the alcohol! – alcohol can irritate the gut lining and alter your gut flora balance.
- Eat bone broth – the gelatine in meat stock contains glutamine which can help to heal a damaged gut lining.
- Try Supplements – certain supplements can help with gut health. Digestive enzymes can support your digestive processes and instead of a probiotic, take a prebiotic that can feed your good bacteria – eg BIO.me Essentials contains polyphenols to optimise your microbiome.
- Get tested – if you haven't found the root cause of your symptoms and are still suffering, get yourself properly tested. Our stool tests look for any underlying infection or inflammation so that we can target your protocol and improve your gut health (and your hormones!).
If you have digestive issues that you haven't been able to shift, OR you suspect other symptoms may be due to poor gut health, do try some of these tips, or contact us for details of further testing and support.