**SPECIAL THANKS TO AIMEE HOCKETT FOR TODAY'S GUEST POST!
We’ve all seen it: the tampon or OTC med commercial, struggling to put pants on, the cramping, the bad mood, the dreaded bloated mirror sulk...periods and bloating.
Yet, here we are, still thinking about the uterus and not necessarily our digestion as influential to our period experience.
These images of women struggling through their period are actually signs that our gut is influencing our period, not the other way around. Unfortunately for us but these symptoms aren’t helped much by tampons or Motrin.
So, now I am sure you are wondering how is it that the gut is influencing our period and not the other way around, as we have always been lead to believe.
With the gut, we have the estrobolome (gut microbiome + circulating estrogens) and the gut-brain axis. We’ve heard of leaky gut, but what about leaky brain?
Before explaining how the gut influences our hormones, it is crucially important to note that our mental and brain health is tightly regulated together with our endocrine system (thyroid especially), female sex organs and digestive tract.
Digestion is the key to everything. EVERYTHING.
In looking at nutrients and bacteria that live in our bodies, we see a range of the same species, vitamins or minerals appearing throughout each system. Each one is necessary for enzymatic activity that helps us use and discard what we need or don’t need at each organ and stage of processing.
WITH compromised gut health, (like leaky gut) we lose out on nutrient absorption as well as gut function, which impacts our hormones production.
These vital connections (brain, gut, endocrine system) are extremely important in maintaining energy, comfort and sanity. The estrobolome can influence other hormone processes like the thyroid or PMS symptoms because of these tight connections.
Many women will see a range of symptoms and system imbalances at one time because an imbalance in one can cause or correlate to the imbalance of another. Not one organ or system exists on its own. We are one person, after all.
The first connection the estrobolome makes is with the entire endocrine system (aka hormones), involving more than one organ and system. (Everything is connected, remember?)
If you mess with one hormone process, the others will likely suffer.
On one hand, they all use similar nutrients for proper processing, but on another, they all cannot be made or processed separately without influencing each other as a unit; similar to a marionette puppet or a knitted sweater. Maybe there is more than one string, but they are all connected.
The second factor is that if your digestive health is suffering, especially in the microbiome (gut flora), bad bacteria can be feeding on your food (instead of you)!
An imbalance in the gut can thus result in you not having the proper cell health to be able to appropriately break down and absorb all that you need from food.
Keep in mind, anti-nutrients (like phytates in grains and legumes) are present in food all the time, however bacteria can sometimes make them or use them to their advantage against you. There is serious opportunity to hinder your body’s healthy hormone activity between these different systems. (If we think about them all as one unit with individual functions.)
HOW IS THIS GUT ISSUE AND BLOATING CONNECTED TO BAD PERIODS?
Without proper metabolism of estrogen, which depends on good digestion and gut function, we will not be able to eliminate the excess estrogen and then experience nasty hormonal symptoms as a result.
Nasty hormonal symptoms like: PCOS, Colon Cancer, Obesity, Cardiovascular Disease, Metabolic Syndrome, Blood Sugar Dysregulation, Endometriosis, Mental Health Issues, Breast Cancer, Osteoporosis, Uterine Fibroids, PMS, Menopausal symptoms, and more.
As if that wasn't enough:
While leaky gut is not directly causative of thyroid dysfunction, there is a strong correlation because so many nutrients involved are important for digestion health, sex hormone processes and thyroid hormone processes simultaneously.
HOW CAN WE FIX PAINFUL PERIODS + HORMONE IMBALANCES DUE TO BAD DIGESTION?
- First of all, if you're going in for tests, get several systems tested: not just one. To understand the source of the problem, you have to look at the systems individually and together as a unit. With more lab work or physicals done, you can get more and more information about how each process connects to the other and you can isolate the real source of the problem: maybe your digestion is not the core imbalance but rather you have a few nutrient deficiencies that result in thyroid hormone imbalances that put strain on your estrogen production and processing, for example.
Either way, one or more sources have opportunities to affect the other, co-processes in the body.
- Above all, stay informed about what your body is telling you and ask questions about how your symptoms relate to each other...not just what each of them means.
If you want to learn more about the symptoms of impaired digestion, the nutrients needed to heal your gut, or hormone imbalances, visit Aimee's blog!
Not quite ready to tackle digestion and hormones yet?
Get back to the basics with Part 1 and Part 2 of the "Fix Your *Crappy* Digestion" blog series for your step-by-step roadmap 👇
Aimee K. Hockett is a nutritionist, entrepreneur and recipe developer. She was born and raised in Maryland, but is now moving to Hudson, New York. At The A.K. Kitchen, she is dedicated to providing nutrition and kitchen resources to help you succeed in customizing your health goals.
You can follow Aimee on Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest @theakkitchen