Last night we had the amazing Amanda Laird, Nutritionist, author of the "Heavy Flow Breaking The Curse Of Menstruation" and creator of the Heavy Flow Podcast in our Love Your Guts - IBS Support Group for a FB LIVE chat all about hormones and your gut.
For the full video recording click here!
Q: The truth is we are really quick to say "I'm hormonal", but what does that really mean?
A: We have this concept that being hormonal is the week before our period or as we get older, being hormonal is being menopausal, but to be hormonal is to be alive. We have over 50 hormones in our body that have countless jobs that we probably don't even know how they are working. So, to be hormonal is to be alive, because our hormones are working for us 24/7.
Q: Are my hormones connected to my gut?
A: We often think that our hormones are only present when we are having mood swings, are feeling bloated, are craving foods or the days leading up to our period or even during our period but our menstrual cycle from day 1 to however long it might be are having an effect on our health and our wellness, every day of our cycle.
Estrogen and progesterone have so many more job to do than just reproduction and these hormones we produce in our menstrual cycle have an effect on our mood, on our appetite, our sleep, energy levels, on what types of partner we find ourself attracted to, how extroverted we feel, how likely we are to crave healthy food vs. junk food and it has such a bearing on other facets of our health too. Estrogen and progesterone have a role to play in our brain, bone, breast, heart and gut health.
So when it comes to our gut and hormones, there are a couple of different ways that our hormones and our gut interact.
Hormones & your liver
There is a connection between our hormones and our liver, which is connected to our digestive system. Our liver has over 500 jobs to do and one of them is metabolism and production of hormones and so our liver health is directly indicated to our hormone health. If we are smoking, drinking, or super stressed out that is going to take president over manufacturing or metabolizing hormones. So there is a connection there.
Once estrogen has run its course and done its job in the body, the liver metabolizes the estrogen and deactivates it and then it is eliminated out of the body through your poop.
Hormones & your poop
If we are not eliminating regularly and efficiently that estrogen that is supposed to be cleared out in a bowel movement is hanging around in the intestines and it is going to get reabsorbed again.
Hormones & your microbiome
Now, a couple of things can happen. If our gut microbiome is out of balance or we have specific types of unfriendly bacteria. These bacteria can reactivate the estrogen and get reabsorbed into our body and it starts doing its job again. So now we have more estrogen, meanwhile, our ovaries are continuing to produce estrogen and this is where we end up with estrogen dominance.
High estrogen is linked to many things such as PMS, fibroids, heavy flow, long period, irregular cycling, inovulatory cycles, uterine fibroids, breast pain and tenderness in menstrual cycle and an increased risk for breast cancer.
So, there are lots of reasons why we want to maintain our gut health to ensure that we are not reactivating that estrogen, but also so that our estrogen levels aren't skyrocketing.
Q: So at this point, I'm sure everyone is thinking "Ok, I have too much estrogen, I'll just go google how to get rid of excess estrogen and take some supplement", now I think you will agree with me, guess work is expensive and dangerous especially with hormones, if you guess wrong you can be doing more damage than good, so what should everyone do to determine what their next best steps are?
A: This is a tricky one, if you were to go to your doctor and ask them to check your hormones, they would probably roll their eyes and tell you to stop watching Dr. Oz.
So, you could ask your doctor for a hormone panel, also there are tonnes of at home testing you can do, I love a company called Let's Get Check. They do at home testing you prick your finger, drop some blood, send it to a lab and five days later you get your results online, which is great, so you can actually see.
The other thing too is it's not just about bringing your estrogen levels down but making sure that you are making good progesterone and that you have lot's of good progesterone to balance out the estrogen.
The thing that promotes progesterone is ovulation and so it is important to support ovulation and the number one thing that affects ovulation is stress.
If you are in a chronic stress pattern and you are just assaulting your body all the time with external stress, internal stress which is stuff like food sensitivities, allergies, gut dysbiosis, you're not going to be producing progesterone.
Eating well, is great, drinking lots of water and working on your microbiome is great, but none of it is going to matter if you are stuck in this chronic stress pattern. You need to break out of that...
For our full video chat with Amanda Laird on why we experience diarrhea and even constipation on our period, why endometriosis seems to be on the rise and how it's connected to IBS, and so much more catch the full recording here.
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