Is something out of whack with your body, and you just can’t figure it out? It could be your gut and hormones aren’t playing nice. Huh? OK, let us break down this complex concept in simple terms.
You’ve likely heard of the gut microbiome. But here’s something you might not know: It’s a key player in the endocrine system, which is a collection of glands.
Why should you care?
The hard-working endocrine system is responsible for creating and releasing hormones into the bloodstream to be transported to organs throughout your body.
These chemicals coordinate everything from metabolism and growth to mood, sexual function, and sleep.
Now those microbes in your gut also affect your health in major ways and are linked to hormone balance. Confused yet?
Think of it this way: Your hormones are the symphony, and your gut microbiome is the conductor. Importantly, your gut lets your glands know how much of each hormone should be created and released.
When your gut is healthy, beautiful music flows. But when it’s unhealthy, it throws your hormones out of tune, and problems ensue. That’s why supporting your good gut health is so important.
Here are four ways your gut microbiome can affect your hormone health – and vice versa.
1. Appetite, Blood Sugar, Energy, and Digestion
That busy gut microbiome of yours produces tons of digestive hormones, such as cholecystokinin, gastrin, secretin, and ghrelin. They help regulate your appetite, digestive processes, energy, and blood sugar. You may have heard of ghrelin, AKA the hunger hormone, because it stimulates your appetite when it enters the bloodstream.
2. Mental Health and Sleep
Emerging research points to a strong link between gut health and mental health. Much of the discussion focuses on serotonin, AKA the happy hormone. A whopping 90 percent of this mood-boosting hormone is produced in your gut. Also, the sleep hormone melatonin needs plenty of serotonin to do its work. Just another reason to show your gut love.
3. Stress Management
No gut/hormone discussion is complete without mentioning this trio of stress hormones. Cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine are in charge of putting your body in ‘go’mode. Your body releases them during your flight-or-fight response, and your heart rate and blood pressure react accordingly. While we don’t get chased by saber-tooth tigers much these days, there are times when this hormone is necessary. But when levels stay too high for too long, it can change the dynamics of the gut microbiome, leading to all sorts of health issues.
4. Estrogen Balance
Estrogen is responsible for a host of functions in women. It helps maintain the reproductive system, protects your heart and brain, and improves muscle mass and bone density. Your gut is the key regulator of the level of circulating estrogen in the body. An unbalanced microbiome can change the amounts of active estrogens in the body.
Now that you’ve gotten the goods on the gut/hormone relationship, perhaps you’re wondering how to keep your gut healthy. Experts recommend eating a diverse range of foods, avoiding those that are processed and high in sugar. Fermented foods, like yogurt and sauerkraut, are good additions to a gut-friendly diet, too.
Probiotics and prebiotics may also help improve microbiome function and support good gut health. Not sure if your gut is unhealthy? Check out our blog that explores the five signs of a healthy gut.
The Zenwise team is pretty smart when it comes to gut health. For more info on the best digestive support products, our customer service team can help at email@example.com or M-F from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. at (800) 940-1972.