Can Gut Health Affect Your Hormonal Balance? Or Is It The Other Way Around?

I’ve been keeping a Gut Health Journal for almost a week now. It’s been helpful for me to track my gut symptoms, mood, food intake, and exercise. And I also found it helpful because it’s somewhat like setting an accountability for myself to be conscious about what I eat, how I feel, and how I can do better to improve my health.

Yesterday, I found that even though I ate very well (by avoiding all the foods that I know will give my GI symptoms so far) and was active throughout the day (went for a walk twice (30 mins each), did yoga & cardio exercise), I still felt really tired, bloated and gassy. In the morning I had mild diarrhea before I ate anything, which I thought was my body’s “self-clean” process on what I ate the day before (FYI – that was a “cheat day”! I ate really poorly – greasy, salty and delicious take-out junk food).

Later that day, I found out that it’s my period.

Looking back, every month right before and during my period, I’ve always experienced GI symptoms – diarrhea, gas, bloating, and lower abdominal cramping. Other than GI symptoms, I also noticed occasional mood swing, fatigue and poorer sleep (hard to fall asleep).

Now think about this: a couple days right before my period + days during my period = that’s almost half a month! It’s so shocking and disturbing to realize how every month, almost half of the time I’m not feeling 100% like myself , no matter how well I eat or how much I exercise.

I’ve discussed this with my Naturopath Doctor and she said that interestingly, change in our hormones can shift the make-up of our gut microbiome; and it also work the other way around – change in our gut microbiome can also change our hormonal balance!

The more I think about it, the more I thought managing my gut health problems is harder and harder to tackle now! Should I tackle it from the hormonal balance standpoint, or the other way around? My ND’s perspective is to manage my gut health first, as my menstrual symptoms do not keep me from living my day-to-day life, and that my GI problems are what’s bothering me more. I agree with her and I’m still curious about how gut health and hormonal balance are interrelated.

A few interesting read:

The Influence of the Gut Microbiome on Host Metabolism Through the Regulation of Gut Hormone Release

Balancing Your Hormones by Stabilizing Your Gut

How Your Gut Microbiome Influences Your Hormones

Is Your Period Causing Digestive Issues? Here’s Why.

The Gut-Hormone Connection: How Gut Health Impacts Hormones

My takeaways from these articles is that our gut microbiome produce metabolites such as SCFA (short chain fatty acids) and secondary bile acids which induces the production or release of many hormones through different pathways. These hormones include insulin, thyroid hormones, estrogen, melatonin, serotonin and stress hormones, etc. Thinking about the function of those hormones, no wonder our gut health have such a big impact on our overall well-being – blood glucose regulation, menstruation, quality of sleep, appetite, and mood… Such a fascinating topic. We must take good care of our “gut buddies” so they take good care of ourselves.

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