Did you know that good digestive health may be the key to balancing hormones?
From the common phrases of feeling “hormonal,” to “hormones raging,” or that your “hormones are out of control,” we know that hormones play a big factor in how we feel. But did you know that your digestion is very closely linked with how your body’s hormones work? A happy gut might just be the key to happy hormones!
So how do you know if you have hormone imbalances?
For women this can be more obvious – it can show up as PMS, painful periods or acne that flares up around that time of the month. It could also mean mood swings, anxiety or depression. For both men and women it could mean fatigue, brain fog, weight gain and/or loss of libido.
And what about your digestion? How do you know if you have digestive issues?
These problems often show up as bloating, excess gas, cramps, heartburn, or uncomfortable bowel movements. BUT digestive issues can show up in other ways too. These range from fatigue and headaches, to sugar cravings and skin issues.
So how does my digestion actually affect hormones?
- Nutrient absorption – vitamins like B6 are essential to good hormone function. If we are not able to absorb our nutrients through food, then hormones cannot be processed properly. When they are not processed properly, hormones become imbalanced.
- Estrogen metabolism – issues like constipation can cause toxins and excess hormones to stay circulating in our body. For women, this may result in negative side effects such as bloating, acne breakouts, and PMS. For men, estrogen imbalances may lead to weight gain and prostate issues.
- Appetite control – our digestive system sends signals to our brains telling us whether or not we are hungry or full. This involves a hormone called Ghrelin that is nicknamed the “hunger hormone.” Digestive issues can mix up these signals, causing either increased hunger cravings or an unhealthy lack of appetite.
- Stress management – issues like food sensitivities can affect our stress hormones, especially our cortisol levels. Leaky gut, or a weakening of your digestive tract, can cause stress on your body, causing your digestion to be even more compromised.
- Thyroid health – your thyroid gland is responsible for maintaining healthy bacteria in your digestive tract, regulating your heart and metabolic rate, and maintaining your mood. If the hormones your thyroid produces are imbalanced, your body may be working on overdrive to keep you healthy.
So what do you do about this?
- Eat hormone balancing foods – these include cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, bok choy and cauliflower. These types of vegetables contain compounds that help your liver detoxify hormones.
- Optimize your digestive system – Increase the fibre in your diet by consuming foods such as chia seeds, ground flax meal, oatmeal and lentils.
- Drink water – especially if you are prone to constipation! Being thirsty can also be mistaken as hunger. If you are feeling hungry but just recently ate – try drinking a glass of water and wait 10 minutes. Perhaps that hunger feeling was just your body’s way of telling you it needed some extra hydration.
- Probiotics – these little guys are the healthy kind of bacteria we need to keep our gut happy. We can get good bacteria through probiotic-rich foods like kefir, sauerkraut or kimchi, and/or from probiotic supplements, which your naturopathic doctor can prescribe.
- Book a Naturopathic Visit – your digestion and hormones are unique and a naturopathic doctor prioritizes in getting to the root cause of your health and wellness concerns. An initial naturopathic visit consists of a thorough intake to fully understand your health, determines necessary testing, and provides a comprehensive plan that includes diet, lifestyle, and any supplement recommendations.
Hormone issues can be frustrating, but working on your digestive health may just be your key to happy hormones and feeling your best!
– Dr. Kay Wong, ND
To get help with your digestion and hormones, book an appointment with our naturopathic doctor, Dr. Kay Wong, ND. Call our clinic at 604-974-8999 or book online at www.theiv.ca.