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  • The Estroblome: How Your Gut Impacts Your Hormones | with Amy Parin

    January 31, 2023 5 min read

    I'm sure that you are all aware by now how important our gut function and microbiome is for our overall health but how about for your hormonal health?

    Your microbiome refers to all the gut bugs that you have within your gastrointestinal system. For a healthy microbiome, you want a variety of beneficial gut bacteria and no bad bacteria, parasites, or infections. We want a large variety of beneficial gut bacteria to work together to create a healthy ecosystem in the body!

    Our gut microbiome works some serious magic for us, it can help us to synthesise, metabolise and digest nutrients. It affects our brain chemistry, allows for adequate detoxification processes and so much more.

    Have you ever considered the role that our gut microbiota has on our hormones? Increasing amounts of research in this area are giving us a more in-depth understanding of how our gut bugs affect the development and severity of common female health complaints such as endometriosis, PCOS, fibroids and PMS. This means that your gut health is more important than ever before when it comes to managing and preventing these female health conditions.

    The term used to talk about the relationship between your gut and your hormones is called 'The Estrobolome'.

    How Does Your Gut Affect Oestrogen Levels?

    Let's first talk about the role of oestrogen in the body. Oestrogen in the right amounts is beneficial for bone mass health, maintaining reproductive tissue health, memory, cognitive function, heart health and creates female fat distribution and breast development.

    If oestrogen is too high you may get symptoms such as mood swings, weight fluctuations, acne, bloating, and irregular periods and predisposes you to fibroids, reproductive cancers and endometriosis.

    Conversely, if your oestrogen levels are too low you may have issues with libido, bone mass, sleep, mood, contract urinary tract infections and vaginal dryness. So, with all this in mind- what can we do about it? 

    The Three Phases of Oestrogen Detox

    To have the right oestrogen levels, our body needs to be able to effectively detoxify any excess oestrogen that is not required to avoid oestrogen dominance. There are three phases of oestrogen detox which are essential for happy healthy hormones. These being:

    Phase One

    Oestrogen goes through to the liver where it gets metabolised and turned into metabolites such as 2-OH oestrone, 4-OH oestrone and 16 OH-oestrone.

    Phase Two

    Also occurs in the liver however, the metabolites from phase one now get methylated using the nutrients magnesium and S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) to help the enzyme catechol-O-Methyltransferase (COMT) to turn the 2-OH and 4-OH estrones into 2Methyxy estrone and 4Methoxy estrone. This process turns the hormones into water-soluble molecules so that they can be easily excreted by the body.

    Phase Three

    Is when your estrobolome comes into action. The liver dumps these new methylated oestrogens into the intestines where they can then be reabsorbed back into the body or effectively excreted via the colon when you pass a bowel movement. To get the right balance of reabsorption versus excretion of oestrogen, the bacteria in your microbiome get to work and produce an enzyme known as beta-glucuronidase which helps some of this oestrogen to get reabsorbed back into the body. When healthy amounts of this enzyme are present, optimal levels of oestrogen get reabsorbed, depending on your body's unique needs. Bacteria that produce beta-glucuronidase include Escherichia coli, Bacteroides species, and Clostridium perfringens. For healthy oestrogen metabolism, you need to have just the right amount of beta-glucuronidase produced by beneficial gut bugs. 

    How Does The Estroblome Influence Common Female Reproductive Health Conditions?

    PCOS

    Studies have indicated that individuals with PCOS have lower levels of microbiota diversity leading to dysbiosis. Dysbiosis interferes with immune cells in the gut that alters insulin receptors causing an increase in insulin which then increases testosterone levels. Insulin and testosterone greatly impact those with the condition and drive symptoms such as acne, weight gain, and hair loss.

    PMS

    If oestrogen levels are not monitored properly by the estrobolome, then changes to the length of the menstrual cycle and PMS symptoms may occur. A disrupted estrobolome may lead to symptoms such as bloating, heavy periods, increased period pain and menstrual migraines before menstruation if oestrogen is not metabolised properly.

    Endometriosis

    Research has indicated that dysbiosis of the gut microbiome is directly linked with the onset and severity of endometriosis. Dysbiosis alters the immune system response and its capacity to pick up on unfamiliar cells such as endometrial tissue. It is common for women with endometriosis to have overgrowths of bad bacteria in their microbiome and low levels of lactobacillus which is a type of beneficial bacteria. This can lead to increased endometrial tissue growth and altered hormone levels and detoxification.

    Cyclical breast pain

    Research has shown that high oestrogen levels have an impact on creating cyclical breast pain in relation to the menstrual cycle. Your gut microbiome also directly influences the microbiome of your breast tissue. Another profound interconnection!

    How Can You Improve Your Estroblome?

  • Remove foods and substances from the diet that negatively impact your microbiota such as sugar, ultra-processed foods, alcohol, pesticides, and herbicides. The best option is to aim for a whole food diet containing plenty of organic fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and protein.
  • Consume prebiotic-rich foods to feed your beneficial gut bacteria such as green banana, onion, garlic, artichoke, cacao, beetroot and cooked then cooled potatoes. These foods act as food for your beneficial microbes keeping them healthy and their populations high.
  • Consume a wide variety of plant-based foods. Consuming a wide variety of plant-based foods helps to feed all the different beneficial bacteria in the gut and also provides a plentiful supply of phytochemicals and antioxidants.
  • Repopulate your gut with beneficial bacteria by consuming fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, yoghurt, and kefir. Consuming these foods helps to increase the levels of certain beneficial bacteria in the gut.
  • Lifestyle practises such as stress reduction and management, adequate quality sleep, emotional wellbeing, consuming plenty of hydrating liquids, exercising regularly, getting adequate sun exposure and time in nature are also all vital components of creating a healthy gut microbiome.
  • As you can see there are so many reasons to take care of your microbiome if you are working on improving your hormonal health. The gut is the epicentre of your wellbeing and thrives with great nourishment.

    Lindheim, L., Bashir, M., Münzker, J., Trummer, C., Zachhuber, V., Leber, B., Obermayer-Pietsch, B. (2017). Alterations in Gut Microbiome Composition and Barrier Function Are Associated with Reproductive and Metabolic Defects in Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): A Pilot Study. PLOS ONE, 12(1), e0168390. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0168390

    Prakash, A., Nourianpour, M., Senok, A., & Atiomo, W. (2022). Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and Endometrial Cancer: A Scoping Review of the Literature on Gut Microbiota. Cells, 11(19), 3038

    Jiang, I., Yong, P. J., Allaire, C., & Bedaiwy, M. A. (2021). Intricate connections between the microbiota and endometriosis. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 22(11), 5644

    Baker, J. M., Al-Nakkash, L., & Herbst-Kralovetz, M. M. (2017). Estrogen–gut microbiome axis: physiological and clinical implications. Maturitas, 103, 45-53




    Amy Parin is a student naturopath in her final year of Naturopathy (BHSc) and has been a key part of the Floralia front of house team for many years. She has a strong passion and interest in women's health, hormones, pregnancy and fertility.

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