Introducing the Conductor of the Hormones...The Gut!
I know many of you may be asking, “why is someone who promotes ‘gut health’ talking about hormones?“ That’s a good question, to which I have a great answer. The gut and the hormones work closely together. Hormones, just like the gut, have a HUGE effect on our day to day health. According to Dr. Ritamarie Loscalzo, “The gut is probably the biggest endocrine gland we have in the body.” The gut is... “the conductor” of your hormonal symphony.
Addressing a hormone imbalance should start with gut health. If you want your body to adequately produce, release, and absorb hormones, then you must start by healing your gut. You have more control over your hormones than you think, but you have to address the problem at the root.
Hormones work daily to keep your body in perfect balance. Hormones are messengers that communicate throughout the body to keep your overall health in balance on a day to day basis. Hormones are important for daily health, weight management, and for healing the body. If even one hormone gets out of balance, it can have a profound effect on your health.
More and more studies are being conducted on the relationship between hormones and the microbiome in the gut. Recent research reveals the important role of gut bacteria’s ability to produce and secrete hormones. The connection between hormones and the gut biome can affect your metabolism, immune system, and behavior.
The connection between the hormones and the gut is bidirectional, running both ways. This means the microbiome in the gut is affected by hormones and hormones are affected by the bacteria in the gut. Hormone levels can be set off balance by outside factors, including but not limited to diet, exercise, mood, stress, and medications. These fluctuations in hormone levels in turn affect the gut bacteria in several ways; bacteria growth, virulence, and resistance. Factors like insufficient sleep and high stress levels can upset the microbiome of the gut interfering with the production, release, and absorption of the hormones, thus causing hormonal imbalance.
The gut microbiome works together with your own hormones to help in the following ways and more:
- Reduce stress by decreasing levels of the stress hormone, Cortisol.
- Reduce the risk of diabetes by supporting healthy blood sugar levels.
- Promote weight loss by increasing the body’s sensitivity to Leptin and Ghrelin, two hormones that work to signal when you are hungry, determine satiety, and signals your brain when it’s time to stop eating.
- Support sound, restful sleep by regulating the levels of the sleepy hormone, Melatonin.
- Improve your sex life by increasing testosterone levels which men and women both produce.
The keys to healthy, balanced hormones are quite simple.
In fact, most people do not realize these three simple changes could make such a huge difference in your hormones, your gut, and your overall health, but they do. I’m confident you will see significant improvements if you…
#1 Eat a whole food diet - eat a diet free of refined flour, sugars, and processed foods. Eat plenty of vegetables, low sugar, high fiber fruits, proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats.
#2 Get plenty of restful sleep - Make an effort to get seven to nine hours of sleep each night. According to a recent study in Sweden, as little as two consecutive nights of insufficient sleep can disrupt certain beneficial bacteria in the gut. Impacting the beneficial gut bacteria can have a disturbing effect on the hormones. Sufficient sleep is key to keeping hormones balanced.
#3 Take a probiotic - In order to maintain balanced hormones you need a healthy gut with a wide range of bacterial microflora, including probiotics. Choose a high quality probiotic with 15 billion to 100 billion CFUs. High quality probiotics should contain 10-30 different strains of bacteria. Also look for probiotics that contain live and active cultures.
Incorporating the three simple strategies above can change your life by improving your digestive health and keeping your hormones balanced. What are you waiting for? Make these changes today and experience the healing power of whole food, restful sleep, and a healthy digestive system!