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Digestive Health and Your Estrobolome: 6 Areas to Maximize.

The relationship between gut health and sex hormones is a fundamental yet often underappreciated aspect of overall wellness. Let’s discuss progesterone and testosterone briefly before we get into the main event of today's blog, estrogen. Progesterone, vital for menstrual regulation, and pregnancy support, and testosterone, essential for vitality and overall health, are both influenced by gut health. An imbalanced gut environment, characterized by inflammation and dysbiosis, can disrupt their levels, leading to symptoms such as irregular menstruation, mood, energy and sleep disturbances, changes in libido, etc

Today, we are going to discuss estrogen and the estrobolome! 

Estrogen, indispensable for reproductive health and beyond, is metabolized by the estrobolome—a network of gut bacteria. Disruptions in the estrobolome, often triggered by factors like stress, antibiotic usage and dietary patterns, may lead to disturbances in estrogen metabolism, potentially contributing to hormone-related disorders one of which is estrogen dominance.

The estrobolome, a less familiar term but of significant importance, refers to the gut bacteria responsible for estrogen metabolism. The estrobolome is your body's own little garden of microbes, like the caretakers of an ecosystem. These microbes play a pivotal role in metabolizing and regulating estrogen in the body. What is very interesting is as much as bacteria are metabolizing estrogen, estrogen actually assists in microbial diversity (so cool!). 

Research has shown that the composition of the estrobolome can influence hormone regulation and metabolism. When the estrobolome is happy, cared for and nurtured, it helps metabolize estrogen properly, which is incredibly important for overall well-being REGARDLESS of your age or gender. 

But life throws curveballs, right? Getting sick, stress (happy or not), poor diet (undereating, overeating, restricted variety, poor quality), and various other factors can upset this microbial balance, leading to issues like estrogen dominance OR deficiency.

So, how can we tend to this microbial garden and support hormonal health?

  1. Avoiding Alcohol: We are just the messengers of this point and not saying you can never have a glass of that stunning Shiraz again, but there is also a massive difference between an occasional cocktail and weekly multi-beverage consumption. When discussing estrogen metabolism alcohol can cause quite the disruption in the estrobolome (and so much else if we are being honest) 

  2. Assessing Stress: Prolonged stress disrupts the balance of gut microbiota, leading to dysbiosis and alterations in microbial composition. This imbalance can interfere with the estrobolome's ability to effectively metabolize estrogen. Furthermore, stress-induced changes in gut permeability and immune function as a whole may exacerbate inflammation, further impacting estrogen metabolism and thus the hamster wheel spins round and round. It is important for us to mention ‘prolonged stress’ really comes down to all the small and large things, this could include lack or sleep, decreased immune function, getting injured, surgery, emotional stress (happy or sad), unresolved trauma, etc 

  3. Proper Hydration: Hydration plays a crucial role in hormone regulation, overall body function and ensuring adequate water intake is essential. However, it's important to recognize that hydration isn't just about drinking water; it also involves supportive minerals like salt, potassium, and magnesium. These minerals support proper cellular function, including hormone production and signaling. 

  4. Fiber-Rich Diet: Incorporating a fiber-rich diet, abundant in fruits and vegetables such as apples and carrots just as two of many examples, can profoundly impact gut health and support the estrobolome. Fiber serves as a vital source of nourishment for beneficial gut microbes, including those involved in estrogen metabolism within the estrobolome. These microbes thrive on dietary fiber, fermenting it into short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) like butyrate, acetate, and propionate. SCFAs play a crucial role in maintaining gut barrier integrity, reducing inflammation, and modulating immune function. 

  5. Probiotics and Prebiotics Rich FOOD: This as with anything does come with nuances as not everyone is in a place where adding in fermented foods is beneficial, such as with certain dysbiosis. However probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kefir, and kimchi  introduce beneficial bacteria into the gut. Additionally, prebiotic-rich foods like apples, carrots, sweet potatoes, garlic, onions, leeks, bananas, and resistant starches (ie: cooked and cooled potato and rice). 

  6. A Note on Resistant Starches: Resistant Starches  are like a secret weapon – they “resist” digestion in the small intestine, making their way to the colon where they feed those beneficial microbes. Think of them as fertilizer. 

  7. Digestive Health Assessment: Consider utilizing tools like a GI Map to evaluate digestive health. We like the GI Map because it is incredibly comprehensive and very sensitive. It can detect as little as 0.1 cell per gram…. 1 little microorganism per 1 gram of stool. It is also 100% for sensitivity  and specificity for H. Pylori. 

  8. A Note on Increased Beta-Glucuronidase, a marker on a GI Map: In a happy gut, beneficial microbes help convert estrogen into a less active form that's easily excreted by the body. However, when digestive dysbiosis is at play, harmful bacteria can increase the production of an enzyme called beta-glucuronidase. This enzyme has the opposite effect – it reactivates estrogens that should have been excreted. We do not want second fiddle estrogen that is supposed to be excreted (yuck)! 

What happens when there is overgrowth or microbial disruption in paradise? 

Digestive dysbiosis, simply put, refers to an imbalance in the gut microbiome. Not as Sexy as you thought huh? We are  going to go on a limb and say the majority of us have some sort of dysbiosis right this very minute (gasp!) BUT our bodies can typically combat it when everything is in working order getting us back to a place of a happy harmonious party. However, as with anything in excess there is a tipping point. 

Dysbiosis is when potential disease and/or symptom causing  bacteria outnumber the beneficial, throwing off the harmonious ecosystem that is crucial for overall health, including hormonal health. Please read that again, “ harmonious ecosystem” plainly put, the bacteria labeled ‘harmful’ actually live in HARMONY with the ‘beneficial’ . Imbalance can be when there is overgrowth of bacteria where it should be as well as overgrowth of bacteria where it should not be. We like to say “when the party is supposed to be in the basement but goes to the attic” or vice versa. 

Now that you understand the critical role our digestive microbiome plays in estrogen metabolism, it's clear that maintaining gut health is crucial. Disruptions in the digestive system, such as low digestive capacity and/or dysbiosis, can significantly affect overall well-being. To ensure the functionality of the Estrobolome, it's essential to take proactive steps toward optimal gut health. If you need guidance to assess your gut health or have hormonal symptoms, which may be related to digestive issues, reach out to us. Let's work together to prioritize your hormonal and digestive health. Connect with us today to start your journey toward better health.

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