The hormones that regulate your menstrual cycle are influenced by your gut. Your intestinal bacteria (your microbiome), has so many important functions. The microbiome synthesises nutrients and assists with digestion. It releases chemicals that regulate mood and metabolism and immune function, and if all that wasn’t enough, it also helps to control the level of estrogen.The special part of the microbiome involved with estrogen metabolism is called the estrobolome.
Estrogen is mostly made by your ovaries. It circulates throughout your body, until it reaches your liver where it goes through inactivation and hopefully gets eliminated, as waste. When certain intestinal bacteria are present, usually when you have an unhealthy micro biome (dysbiosis), something else happens. Unfriendly bacteria make an enzyme called beta-glucuronidase, which re-activates estrogen in your gut. That re-activated estrogen then re-enters your body and causes excess estrogen. That is impaired estrogen metabolism.
Too much estrogen can make periods heavier. It contributes to many symptoms of oestrogen dominance such as bloating, tender breasts, irregular periods, pms, mood swings, anxiety and depression, headaches, weight gain and fatigue, as well as long term risk conditions such as ovarian and breast cancer.
Why does this happen?
1.A diet full of processed foods massively increase the levels of xenoestrogenic molecules and puts the body into an estrogen dominant state.
2. The liver filters out xenoestronic molecules and helps neutralise them. When the liver is inhibited and working poorly it is unable to lower estrogen levels effectively.
3. Poor blood sugar control leads to elevated insulin and cortisol. These factors encourage estrogen release and lead to deficiencies in nutrients like magnesium, vitamin C and B6 which help neutralise bad estrogen in the liver.
4. Chemicals that come from plastics, cleaners, makeup and many environmental sources contain xenoestrogens, which means they mimic estrogen and disrupt your hormone balance.
Fortunately, there are ways to improve the health of the microbiome and, therefore promote the healthy metabolism of estrogen.
1.Eat more vegetables. Fibre promotes a healthy microbiome and decreases the activity of the microbial enzyme beta-glucuronidase. Estrogen is excreted through bowel movements. If stool takes a long time to make its way through your bowel, it will actually be reabsorbed by your body in the process. The best way to avoid this is to eat a diet high in insoluble fibre. Dark leafy green vegetables are high in magnesium and B vitamins that are essential for the metabolism of estrogen in the body.
2. Eat adequate protein and healthy fats to maintain blood sugar balance and help with detoxification.
3.Reduce alcohol consumption. Chronic alcohol consumption alters the microbiome leading to higher activity of beta-glucuronidase and higher levels of estrogen metabolites.
4.Eat/take probiotics. A powerful effect probiotics can have on estrogen dominance is by speeding up the rate of your bowels.Unfortunately many women are constipated. This means you may be reabsorbing toxins into your bloodstream. The speedier your digestion is, the more efficiently your body will be able to empty out excess estrogen and other stuff your body doesn’t want hanging around
Author | Gabriella Ratner
Certified health coach and owner of Intuitive Health Hub
Gabriella Ratner is a clinical nutritionist, certified health coach and owner of Intuitive Health Hub in Bondi Junction, Sydney. Specialising in mental, digestive and female reproductive health, she likes to do things a little differently. She doesn’t treat problems and symptoms, she treats people. Inspired by her own personal health journey, she believes in addressing the underlying causes of her patients’ health issues, not the signs. She lives near Bondi Beach in Sydney, with her husband, three gorgeous kids and Mickey the cavoodle. When she’s not talking, writing or giving advice on holistic health, you’ll find her cooking up a storm, travelling with her family or enjoying a cheeky glass of red wine.