Estrobolome, your gut & oestrogen
Our hormones play a vital role in our body and it should come as no surprise our gut plays a vital role in the production and regulation of hormones for both men and women. One such important hormone is oestrogen, which is not only essential for reproductive health in women, it also helps regulate body fat, supports brain function and bone health. Within men, oestrogen also plays an important role in the maturation of sperm and the maintenance of libido.
Our gut flora is a large and very complex community of microorganisms in our digestive tract. The trillions of bacteria within the gut flora impact many of our bodily functions such as digestion, immune system and nutrient absorption, which in turn can significantly impact our hormones and overall health.Isabelle Nunn (MPHARM, Dip NT), pharmacist and nutritionist, explains the link between the gut and oestrogen, what we mean by 'the estrobolome' and how this can affect our health. You may also enjoy reading 'What is the gut-hormone' connection?'.
What is the Estrobolome?
The 'estrobolome' is a collection of microorganisms, including bacteria in the gut, which are involved in the metabolism of oestrogen. The estrobolome plays a vital role in breaking down oestrogen into a form that can be eliminated from the body, as it should. As a result, the estrobolome is important for modulating the body’s circulation of oestrogen.
Disruption of the estrobolome can lead to imbalances in oestrogen levels which can contribute to a range of health problems. Signs of hormonal imbalances include fatigue, mood swings and weight gain, which are all also common symptoms of menopause. You may also enjoy reading about unusual symptoms of menopause.
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What affects the Estrobolome?
The gut-hormone connection
One of the factors to take into account is the gut-hormone connection. The hormones produced within the gut can affect both the composition and activity of the gut microbiome, including the estrobolome.
For example the enzyme called 'beta-glucuronidase', which is produced by gut bacteria, can interfere with how oestrogen is metabolised. It can convert the oestrogen back into an active form that can circulate in the body, leading to a greater circulation of oestrogens in the body than we would normally have, and in turn contribute to health conditions such as endometriosis, irregular ovulation, and challenges with fertility or polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). You may enjoy reading about the recommended foods for PCOS and weight loss.
When the gut microbiome is well-balanced, the right amount of 'beta-glucuronidase' is produced to maintain the balance of oestrogen in the body. However, when there is an imbalance in the microbiome - which is also known as 'dysbiosis' - the beta-glucuronidase levels can be altered. This can either produce a deficiency or an excess of free oestrogen levels, which can lead to oestrogen-related health conditions such as blood clots, stroke, osteoporosis and others.
An imbalance in the gut microbiome can be addressed through taking a high quality probiotic and prebiotic, including the award-winning Gut Works, with 50bn CFU of six clinically studied strains of healthy, active bacteria.
The Estrobolome and the menopause
Since a disruption of the estrobolome affects hormonal changes, it can also have implications for postmenopausal women. As oestrogen levels decline after the menopause, the estrobolome becomes less active, which can lead to hormone related conditions including obesity, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. Most importantly, imbalances in oestrogen levels can increase the risk of bone loss, which can lead to osteoporosis and an increased risk of bone fractures. This is also why exercise through menopause is so important.
You may wish to read further on key nutrients for bone health in the menopause.
What can you do to help optimise the activity of the Estrobolome?
There are a few things you can do to ensure your estrobolome is healthy:
1. Avoid the toxins
Avoid toxins found within household and personal care products, often referred to as ‘xenoestrogens’. These can interfere with our gut microflora and oestrogen levels.
2. Watch out for antibiotics and the pill
Medication like the oral contraceptive pill and antibiotics can negatively impact the gut microbiota, oestrogen levels and the estrobolome. The right foods, lifestyle and supplements can support the growth of healthy bacteria in the body.
Exercise plays a vital role in bone and joint health, especially during the menopause. It also affects our gut microbes by increasing the bacterial communities that produce short-chain fatty acids. Short-chain fatty acids are a type of fatty acids that are mainly produced by microbes and have the ability to modify our metabolism, immunity and mental health, amongst other physiological processes. Learn more about how the gut and brain communicate.
4. Probiotics and prebiotics
Supporting healthy bowel movements helps oestrogen metabolism. Reach for prebiotic and probiotic foods, and follow up with an expertly formulated probiotic supplement to help reset the balance of healthy bacteria.
An altered microbiota has associations with conditions like endometriosis, the menopause or PCOS. For instance, a diminished Lactobacillus dominance was found in endometriosis sufferers, along with elevated levels of bacteria related to bacterial vaginosis (BV) and opportunistic pathogens, which can cause further issues. Lactobacillus is a strain of bacteria found in the digestive tract, including the oral cavity and in the women’s genital tract.
Lactobacilli species within a supplement can be a beneficial way of modulating the estrobolome and improving oestrogen-related health issues. Although more clinical studies are needed at this stage, it is worth considering supplementing with science-led formulas with 6 clinical strains of live cultures including Lactobacilli and a total of 50 billion CFU found in Gut Works®.
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