Why You Should Care About Your Estrobolone and the Gut Health-Hormone Connection
In this article:
- Gut Health: Your Foundation
- What Is the Estrobolome?
- What Is the Gut-Estrogen Connection?
- What Factors Disrupt the Estrobolome?
- 5 Supplements for a Healthy Estrobolome
- Supplements to Balance Blood Sugar
- Supplements to Balance Overall Hormone Health
Did you know that not only do you have a microbiome, you also have a gut-estrogen connection called the estrobolome, which plays a fascinating part in your health and well-being? Increasing research is showing gut microflora's impact upon estrogen status and health for both women and men.
At some point in your life, it is likely you have noticed some connection between your gut health and hormones in the form of premenstrual bloating. But have you ever considered that acne, period pain, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, or fibroids could all be related to not just your hormones, but something going on in your gut?
Let's start by first discussing our gut microbiome—a key player in every aspect of our health, weight, immune health, and mental well-being. We tend to think of our gut as distinct from every area of our body when in fact, everything is connected to it.
Sometimes we may suffer from an imbalance of our gut microbiome that ultimately negatively affects our estrobolom. Ideally, we want an abundance of healthy and diverse gut bacteria and a large number of them. Additionally, we want to keep the unhealthy gut microbes very low.
You can look at your gut as your gut garden. To optimize gut health, the first action you want to do is to pull the weeds to prepare the garden or gut. These weeds? Refined and processed foods that are high in sugar, low in fiber, contain unhealthy industrial oils such as canola or vegetable oil, are junk foods, or fast foods. These foods, particularly sugar, literally feed the unhealthy gut bugs. These bad microflora have a detrimental effect on every area of our health and weight. They need these toxic foods in order to thrive and survive. The healthy gut bugs need prebiotic fibers (prebiotics are fibers that aren't digestible by your body but can help good bacteria grow in your gut) or plant diversity such as prebiotic powders, potato starch, and foods such as beans, bananas, chicory, onions, leeks, artichokes, avocados, unripe banana, dark chocolate, garlic, asparagus, apples, dandelion greens, and many more.
So now that you have stopped feeding your unhealthy gut bugs or “pulled the weeds,” it is time to “plant your gut garden” with probiotics. Probiotics are healthy bacteria from fermented or cultured foods such as yogurt, kimchi, olives, pickles, cottage cheese, natto to name a few. These are the bacteria necessary to balance our hormones, immune system, weight, and much more.
Lastly, we want to “fertilize our gut garden” with the aforementioned prebiotic fibers from plants or supplements. Now your gut garden is healthy and balanced—and so are your hormones.
Estrogen plays many crucial roles in the human body, including influencing the regulation of body fat, female reproductive function, cardiovascular health, bone health, and even cognitive health such as memory.
Emerging research has shown there is a gut-estrogen connection referred to as the estrobolome.
Our gut plays a central role in the regulation of hormones—such as estrogen—within the body for both men and women. In fact, we produce estrogen 24 hours a day. The estrobolome influences the activity of estrogen and with that, the risk of diseases such as breast cancer, endometriosis, prostate cancer, and other estrogen-driven cancers. The body naturally detoxifies estrogen. The liver then preps the estrogen in a form that’s easy to eliminate through the kidneys. Sometimes this process is prevented by activity from the gut microbiome.
The gut microbiome plays an important role in estrogen metabolism which has implications for many disease states such as breast cancer as estrogen itself can promote the growth of cancer cells. It has been found that dysbiosis, the disruption of gut microbes may play a role. Healthy estrogen levels promote a healthy gut and vice-versa. But here is the caveat: our estrobolome can only function properly if the microbiome is healthy and contains the right type and diversity of gut microbes.
You can make estrogen from plant-based foods such as flaxseeds, leafy greens, legumes (i.e., lentils, garbanzos, tofu). All of these contain compounds called phytoestrogens, naturally-occurring plant compounds that are structurally or functionally similar to our own estrogens.
One important note: our oral health is a part of our microbiome and is affected by estrogen imbalance, so it is vital to take care of it. When you support the health of your microbiome, you support your oral health, your estrobolome, and vice versa.
The gut is the most important factor for healthy estrogen metabolism and detoxification. Specific diet and lifestyle factors that are commonly known to disrupt the gut microbiome are overall diet, imbalance of blood glucose, antibiotics, sugar intake, lack of vegetables, lack of probiotics and prebiotics, excess alcohol use, lack of exercise, not getting enough sleep and chronic stress.
The hormones estrogen and progesterone affect how your cells respond to insulin. With an imbalance in the gut, the estrobolome releases a large amount of a certain enzyme, beta-glucuronidase, which causes bad estrogens to constantly circulate through your system.
Changes in diet with targeted supplementation are known to positively affect and balance the overall gut microbiome. Specific nutraceuticals, probiotics, and botanicals can be used to promote a healthy and protective microbiome that favors estrogen metabolism and excretion.
- Probiotic support: Healthy bacteria necessary for optimal gut health and overall optimal health
- Prebiotic support: Fibers that literally feed the healthy gut bacteria
- Calcium D-glucarate: Helps promote and optimize the estrogen detoxification pathway for effective and balanced estrogen metabolism
- Diindolylmethane (DIM): An active ingredient from cruciferous vegetables (such as cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli) that helps to detoxify bad estrogens favorably over good estrogen
- Sulforaphane: An active compound also found in broccoli and cruciferous vegetables that helps with estrogen detoxification and an anti-aging compound
- Magnesium glycinate: Helps to balance blood sugar and promotes healthy estrogen clearance. Magnesium is required for most biochemical processes in the human body.
- Gymnema: A tropical plant that means “destroyer of sugar” that has been used in India to treat diabetes for over 2000 years. Keeping glucose balanced is a key component of the gut-estrogen connection.
- Bitter melon: Bitter melon can help reduce blood glucose and promote adequate bile production that is needed to excrete excess estrogens (and fats) from the liver and gall bladder.
- Cinnamon: Balances blood sugar levels which help to optimize your estrobolome
- Berberine: An herb that powerfully reduces glucose and insulin while rebalancing hormones
- Resveratrol: A phytoestrogen that helps to balance estrogen in the body as well as functioning as a powerful antioxidant
- Maitake mushroom: Helps stabilize hormone levels within the body
- Reishi mushroom: Can help with liver function and the removal of harmful synthetic toxins from the body. The fewer toxins in the body/gut, the healthier your estrobolome.
- Cordyceps: Help balance hormones like estrogen and progesterone, while supporting your adrenal gland and blood sugar balance
- Black cohosh: A phytoestrogen that balances all estrogen levels by removing the bad estrogen and decreasing the bad estrogen effects
- Chasteberry: Can help balance overall hormones. The berry contains hormone-like compounds that react well with the pituitary gland.
- Ashwagandha: Assists in balancing the HPA axis. The HPA axis produces and releases many hormones, including cortisol, that initiate your body’s response to stress. Excess cortisol can negatively impact gut health, blood sugar, inflammation, and more.
- Nigella seeds (black cumin seed/oil): Contains a plant compound called thymoquinone. Research has found this compound has a powerful impact upon estrogen balance, particularly during menopause, offering relief.
- Flaxseeds/oil: Contains lignans that are fiber-like compounds that can help assist the gut microbiome. Gut microbes convert lignans into compounds that have estrogen-balancing effects.
There is not just one herb or supplement that is good for everything hormone-related. It is vital to determine what type of hormone imbalance you may have via a hormone panel and ensure healthy lifestyle choices such as an anti-inflammatory diet that is chock-full of nutrients and fiber that will help optimize gut health and estrobolome health.
Choosing whole foods, no ultra-processed foods such as cakes, cookies, chips, fast food, etc. that will only promote poor gut health (remember you're feeding the unhealthy gut microflora with these foods and ultimately, your estrobolome). Other healthy lifestyle choices also play a powerful role such as exercising regularly, avoiding added sugar, drinking water, eating more fruits and vegetables, standing more vs sitting excessively, maintaining healthy body weight, getting quality sleep, and reducing chronic stress. These healthy choices you make each day will not only optimize your gut health and overall health but your estrobolome health as well.