There are many reasons for hormonal imbalance. Many people tend to think that if they have hormonal imbalance they need to reach for medication. This may be the case for some, but there are many factors which can contribute to hormonal imbalances which also need to be addressed.
Hormone imbalance is not a single issue
Diet, exercise, visceral fat and being overweight, as well as stress, lack of sleep and your gut bacteria can all impact hormone levels. I will cover some of these over the next few weeks, but let’s start today with the Microbiome.
Your digestive system can impact your hormones
For many years it was considered that the Hypothalamus, Pituitary and Adrenal axis was responsible for producing hormones and, particularly reproductive hormones through a process of conjugation – and this is true to some extent.
However, as we learn more about the microbiome – the genetic make-up of the millions of genes in our body, predominantly in the gut – we are seeing the impact it has on all aspects of the body. The reproductive hormones are no exception.
The estrobolome – the gut endocrine organ
Scientists have identified what’s called the “estrobolome” in the gut. The estrobolome helps to keep oestrogen in balance and is made up of all enteric (intestinal) bacterial genes working together to metabolise oestrogen. The estrobolome is increasingly becoming a point of focus in breast cancer with scientists exploring the difference in microbial composition between those with and without breast cancer in order to develop targeted therapies.
Step 1 for hormonal balance
Step 1 in hormonal balance is make sure you have a healthy microbiome:
- Reduce sugar and processed foods in your diet. Too much sugar will favour certain microbes above others and will lead to imbalance in your gut.
- Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Include fibre, which you will get in fruit and vegetables, but also consider nuts and seeds.
- Get a dog! Studies have shown this can improve the human microbiome.
- Exercise, but in moderation. Moderate exercise encourages a healthy gut, but prolonged intense exercise can negatively impact.
- Include fermented foods in your diet – sauerkraut, kimchi.
- Take a good probiotic, particularly if you have been on antibiotics.
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 Plottel CS, Blaser MJ. Microbiome and malignancy. Cell Host Microbe. 2011;10(4):324–335. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
 Kwa et al, 2016, The Intestinal Microbiome and Estrogen Receptor–Positive Female Breast Cancer, J Natl Cancer Inst. 2016 Aug; 108(8): djw029. Published online 2016 Apr 22. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djw029