If you experience any sort of digestive problems, we can almost guarantee that you are going to have hormone problems…
And that’s because the digestive tract is where you absorb the nutrients you need to make hormones, like zinc and various essential fatty acids. It is also the place where you break down and excrete the hormones that you don’t need - so you don’t end up with oestrogen dominant conditions...which we’re going to talk about more in depth in a moment.
Sufficient bile production in the liver and release from the gallbladder is vital to your hormone health for a couple of reasons.
First, you need enough bile in order to emulsify - meaning break down - fat. If you cannot break down fat, then you can’t absorb it, which means you aren’t going to get the cholesterol you need to actually make your hormones!
The other thing is that the liver dumps toxins into the bile, so they can then be eliminated from the body. If you have a toxic overload or your body can’t get rid of endocrine disrupting chemicals or excess oestrogen, you are going to have a hormone problem, right? It’s not rocket science, we need this process to occur.
So, if you aren’t making enough bile, then you need to encourage your body to make more by either taking digestive enzymes, digestive bitters or apple cider vinegar.
Once the liver has made the bile and it has been stored and then released from the gallbladder, the excess hormones, like oestrogen will be sent down to the colon for elimination.
However, in order for that oestrogen molecule to actually get pooped out, it must bind to fibre while in the colon - which is a big reason why fibre is so important to your hormone health. We have to have sufficient levels for the oestrogen to bind to -- but also enough fibre to help us poop. Make sense?
Now, here is where things get super interesting, you’re gonna love it….You have a set of gut bacteria in your microbiome called estrobolome, which influences oestrogen levels.
Estrobolome’s main role is to metabolise oestrogen!
It modulates the enterohepatic circulation of oestrogens, impacts both the circulating and the excreted oestrogen and produces something called beta-glucuronidase.
Beta-glucuronidase is an enzyme that breaks the bond between oestrogen and glutathione. Now remember, glutathione is the master detoxifier -- it is the big guns. It binds with oestrogen to eliminate oestrogen that isn’t needed.
You need oestrogen and glutathione to stay bound. But -- if your beta-glucuronidase levels are elevated, then this bond is going to be broken, leaving oestrogen unbound...which means it can then bind with oestrogen receptors and get reabsorbed rather than eliminated as it should. Not good is it?!
Ensuring you support a healthy microbiome full of good bacteria is vital as the type of bacteria in your gut will determine how much beta-glucuronidase the estrobolome produces.
If you start making too much beta-glucuronidase, then you are likely to experience oestrogen dominance.
Some of the signs and symptoms of oestrogen dominance include:
Breast tenderness or fibrocystic breasts
Weight or fat gain
Oestrogen dominance puts you more at risk for things like endometriosis, adenomyosis, fibroids and oestrogen dependent cancers, like breast, cervical and ovarian cancers.
Now, PCOS can absolutely have oestrogen dominance as part of the picture. However, when it comes to beta-glucuronidase, low levels tend to be associated with PCOS and high androgens - so things like high testosterone.
Keep an eye out for the next blog post to learn how to actually manage this!