Is Your Gut to Blame for Your Hormonal Issues?

Many women are often surprised to find that the source of their hormonal problems is stemming from the microbes that inhabit the gut. Here's what you can do to help keep your gut and hormones balanced.

Many women are often surprised to find that the source of their hormonal problems is stemming from the microbes that inhabit the gut. We all have millions of microbes that reside in our gut, some of which play an essentia role in the balancing of our hormones, this is referred to as the estrobolome.

What Is The Estrobolome?

We have a complex relationship with the microbes that live in our gut. We host and feed them, and in return they workfor (or sometimes against) us. The estrobolome are bacteria that play a role in the balancing of our sex hormones, influencing mood, libido, weight and much more.

Is Your Estrobolome Out of Balance?

Here are some of the signs that your estrobolome may be out of balance, so if you have two or more of these symptoms, read on:

  • Irregular periods
  • Swelling, tender breasts
  • Symptoms of PMS
  • Difficulty with sleep
  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Mood issues, such as low mood or irritability
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Fatigue
  • Memory issues or brain fog
  • headaches
  • anxiety and panic attacks
  • Gut symptoms such as bloating or food sensitivities


How Do Our Microbes Affect Our Hormones

The estrobolome plays many critical functions that affect gut health. Here are the main contributors to our hormonal health:

·        Microbes help to synthesise and regulate many of our key neurotransmitters such as serotonin

·        Facilitate the absorption of critical nutrients that help build hormones

·        Directly regulates estrogen levels in the body

There are three types of estrogen that the body produces, mainly in the ovaries and adrenal glands. These hormones help regulate the hormonal cycle, support cardiovascular, brain and bone health.

Once these hormones have performed their vital functions, they are then cleared out through the liver into the bowel where they are meant to be eliminated. When the estrobolome is healthy, microbes produce optimal levels of an enzyme called beta-glucuronidase.This enzyme helps recycle hormones from the gut back into circulation. Too much of this enzyme, however, will cause blood estrogen levels to rise, causing a range of problems.

This is unfortunately a common issue that I see in clinic and often leads to an increased risk of hormonal cancers if left untreated. I would estimate that nearly 30% of women in my clinic that have done gut testing have been found to have raised beta-glucuronidase levels.

What Can You Do to Improve Your Estrobolome?

Fortunately, the estrobolome responds well to diet and lifestyle interventions.


“The food we eat not only feeds our cells, but also determines what kind of inner garden we are growing in our guts.” – Dr. MarkHyman.

This is a really important statement. Every time you eat, the nutrients you consume will either feed the good microbes that support yourhealth, or fuel the troublemakers. Keep in mind also that all our hormones are builton assembly lines in our bodies that require all the right nutrients. So, withevery food choice that you make you are either helping or harming your hormones.

The optimal diet for supporting hormonal health is a low glycaemicindex (GI) diet that contains a diverse range of vegetables, fruit and fibre.  Phytonutrients encourage microbial diversity,so eating a full spectrum of colour is essential.

Whitecarbs such as pasta, rice and potatoes can be troublesome as they disrupt blood sugar levels and eventually also hormone balance. Also,they are empty calories, providing no nutrients for the hormonal system.  Instead, choices such as sweet potato, broccoli and cauliflower provide more dense nutrition without spiking blood sugar levels.

To produce healthy hormones, we need good fats such as olive oil, avocados, fatty fish and nuts. Saturated and trans fats, however, have been linked to hormone imbalances, so stay away from processed foods which often contain high levels of these harmful fats.

Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, contain compounds that support the detoxification of estrogen. The supplement DIM (diindolylmethane) contains concentrates of these compounds and can dramatically lower harmful estrogens.

Prebiotics and probiotics should also be considered as long as you don’t have an overgrowthof bacteria in the bowel. Prebiotic foods such as chicory, garlic, onion, asparagus and bananas provide fertiliser for good bacteria. Probiotic foodssuch as sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, kimchi are helpful in introducing good bacteria to the gut. If you suffer from bowel overgrowth, you will need the help of an experienced Functional Medicine practitioner.

If you have been found to have raised estrogen or beta-glucoronidase, the supplement calcium D-glucarate helps to safely detoxify excess estrogen.

One of the most powerful things in supporting the detoxification of estrogen is fibre. We have known for a long time that high fibre diets are correlated with better estrogen metabolism.  There is a simple explanation for this. As we increase fibre in the diet, our bowel movements are more frequent, preventing stagnation of faecal content in the gut, which leads to the reabsorption of excess estrogen.

Environmental Toxins

Many of the foods we consume contain hormones. Dairy and livestock are typically injected with growth hormones that remain within the foods that we consume. Also, chemicals found in the environment, such as those found in plastics are what we call xenoestrogens. These xenoestrogens mimic human estrogen and are often stronger than our own hormones. These can disrupt our own hormonal patterns, wreaking havoc on our bodies. Many of these compounds also directly impact our gut estrobolome, indirectly affecting hormone levels. Read more here.


Antibiotics, although sometimes necessary, disrupt the microbes that grow in the gut causing dysbiosis and a major imbalance in our gut eccology. When this happens, we can see higher levels of microbes that produce the enzyme beta-glucuronidase, which have a direct impact on hormone levels. If you are prescribed antibiotics, ensure that you take a good probiotic alongside your prescription and continue with gut support for 6 weeks after you complete the course.


Stress has been shown to directly impact the numbers and type of microbes that grow within the gut, leading to dysbiosis. We now know how this can affect hormonal balance.  However, another process, called the “cortisol steal” becomes important for women who have low levels of progesterone in particular.  The more stressed we are, the more resources are channelled into producing stress hormones, often leading our vital sex hormones depleted.

Suggestions to reduce immediate stress:

·        Daily walks in nature can be helpful to reduce stress

·        Listen to music or dance to burn off some of the stress hormones

·        Breathe deeply and centre yourself

·        Spend time with supportive friends or family


Long-term suggestions for reducing stress:

·        Learn breathing techniques such as Heartmath

·        Build a network of supportive friends and family

·        Learn mindfulness techniques

·        Certain herbal remedies and supplements can be very helpful in managing stress and emotions, but it is advisable to speak to your Functional Medicine practitioner to make sure you get the right support for your body constitution.



Even moderate drinking can interfere with our sex hormones. Alcohol can impair the functioning of the testes and ovaries and result in hormonal excesses, deficiencies, sexual dysfunction, and infertility. There are many other good reasons to also miminise alcohol intake.


Inflammatory processes can play havoc on hormones. This stealthy hormone disruptor can impact the production of hormones, leading to significant imbalances. If you are already doing all of the above or have a known inflammatory health condition, getting ontop of inflammation can be the one thing that makes a difference to hormonal balance.



There are many nutrients that play a direct role in hormone synthesis or metabolism.  Nutrients such as folate, vitamin B12, iodine, magnesium and zinc are critical in ensuring healthy hormone balance. If any of these are missing in the diet or you have a condition that affects absorption, hormones may go awry.

One surprising common nutrient deficiency, vitamin B12, is often to blame.  B12 is essential in both hormone production as well as methylation. This is particularly important for vegetarians and vegans whose diets are often lacking in this key nutrient. Even meat eaters though often will have stark deficiencies. If you have a condition that impairs absorption, getting these nutrient levels tested is important.



Methylation is a critical process whereby small parts of molecules, called methyl groups, are transferred to other molecules such as hormones. This process requires vitamin B12, vitamin B6, folate, and other nutrients.

The liver uses this methylation process to detoxify hormones, and other substances. If there are insufficient levels of these nutrient, a compound called homocysteine builds up in the blood.

Raised homocysteine levels have been associated with hormone imbalance. Efficient methylation is crucial for eliminating excess estrogen from the body, preventing imbalances. Another good reason to ensure sufficient nutrient intake. Some individuals have genetic difficulties with methylation and require more focussed support.


There are many good reasons to keep the gut healthy and hormonal balances is just one of them. In my experience, many hormonal issues can be resolved purely by making lifestyle changes. However, there are many other things that can be helpful in balancing hormones, and this is where a truly functional approach can be helpful. I'm a great believer in testing. Rather than guessing what may be causing hormone imbalances, thorough testing can in the long-run save a lot of time and money.