The gut-hormone connection is real. By healing your gut inflammation, it’s possible to naturally balance hormones.
A word of caution: Be careful with band-aid approaches that cover up digestive symptoms and hormone imbalance with things like birth control and over-the-counter remedies. We get ourselves in trouble when we focus on temporary relief instead of long-term resolution.
Let’s talk about how to naturally balance hormones by healing your gut and improving your liver health.
My Own Journey to Balancing My Hormones
One of my early childhood health-related memories was when I started my menstrual cycle. I was so embarrassed and didn’t know how to handle it. I tried to hide it – even from my mom.
My periods were so painful that I would lay on a heating pad most days and pop Midol like candy. By age 12, I was prescribed the pill! You know the one – birth control.
Over time, I moved from one magic pill to the next to control these symptoms. I ended up on a vaginal ring and then the depo provera shot. By age 27, I met with my functional medicine doctor after being off birth control for about a year and was told I was in perimenopause, meaning my hormones were fizzling out. I had not seen my cycle in 3 years.
My personal challenges as a child spurred my interest in this gut-hormone connection. It started with severe constipation, which I now know causes excess estrogen to build up in the system and causes estrogen dominance, which in turn causes those heavy cycles and severe PMS symptoms.
It was a vicious cycle that led to birth control and caused a lifetime of fungal infections and irritable bowel by the time I was in my teens because I never addressed the root. Even after natural hormone therapy with bioidentical hormones, my digestive issues and hormone imbalances got worse.
After doing the research and accessing the right lab tests that I use with clients today, I was able to heal my digestion, balance hormones naturally, and now I feel better than ever.
As I reflect back on my health journey, it’s evident that I’ve pursued health most of my life. You may feel the same. Oftentimes when we struggle, it drives us to find answers. I’m happy to say I was able to do that and I’m healthier now than ever.
But I have to be honest! This journey hasn’t been filled with rainbows and sunshine every day.
Standing on the other side, I look back and see that my health issues were compiled over time, and not something that happened over night.
We live in a toxic world, eat toxic foods, have toxic relationships, and those things all create a toxic body.
This is possible for you too, as I see it happen in the lives of others every day. If you’re experiencing digestive issues or hormone imbalances today, know that your body didn’t wake up one day and decide to start acting crazy. It’s been building up over time and even since childhood.
Today, we’ll discuss how these systems are connected and the signs you should look for when trying to determine if there’s a possible imbalance for you too.
What are the symptoms of hormonal imbalance?
Hormone imbalance can ramp up your appetite, decrease your sleep quality, and have a major effect on your mood and sex drive. This was my life.
Medications like birth control can also cause disruptions in the gut, so you end up with symptoms like:
- Anxiety or irritability
- Chronic fatigue
- Irritable bowel, bloating, or constipation
- Nutrient deficiencies from poor diet
- Fluctuations in weight
And much more!
The Gut-Hormone Connection
When you control inflammation in your gut, it becomes possible to balance hormones and shed excess body fat naturally.
You may not be on birth control, but if you’re experiencing digestive issues and feel like your hormones are out of whack, I want you to know about the gut-hormone connection, because it could be the culprit. A huge piece of this connection starts with your liver.
When it comes to the liver, we usually focus on its role in detoxification. Your liver performs about 200 important functions that impact hormones, cholesterol, protein synthesis, blood purification, and more.
When your liver is working efficiently, it purifies the blood, regulates metabolism, stores vitamins and minerals, and even protects you from infections.
The First Step to Balance Hormones
When you want to balance hormones naturally, you must address the entire body. The symptoms are not the problem. They are a result of the problem.
Try some of these foods that balance hormones:
- Break up with sugar to prevent the bacterial imbalances and fungal overgrowth it causes.
- Eat more fiber rich foods, especially those in the cruciferous family to help with estrogen detox – broccoli, Brussel sprouts, asparagus, and kale are some of my favorites.
- Include naturally detoxifying foods for your liver like lemon, grapefruit, beets, dandelion greens.
And finally, talk to your doctor about healthy alternatives to medications that are harming your liver and get a second opinion if necessary.
How to Naturally Balance Hormones by Addressing the Liver
Clients like Erica often ask me to investigate hormone health because of low libido, weight gain, and loss of muscle mass. Specific questions allow me to determine whether the gut may be playing a role in this imbalance.
Many times these clients have been on birth control or some other form of hormone therapy and even things like antidepressants for years and complain that they’ve stopped working.
Here’s what happens:
Your liver goes through several phases of detoxification to make the toxins more water soluble using oxygen. The liver then uses enzymes to burn up these toxins. And the toxins are easily expelled through the liver and kidneys.
During this process, the liver produces more toxins, which sounds like we’re going backward, but it’s a necessary step as toxins are being pulled out of the system.
Your methylation pathways are responsible for detoxifying estrogen.
When methylation is slow, excess estrogen can build up in the body, leading to many of your hormone related symptoms.
This pathway is an issue for many of my clients, as it was for me. When we address the liver through proper detox and support the body in a natural way, it’s likely that the body will be able to make sufficient amounts of hormones without the support of pills, injections, or pellets.
4 Clues Your Liver is Causing Hormone Imbalance
- Poor Digestion
Your liver is responsible for producing bile, which breaks down fat (including fat soluble vitamins) during digestion.
The gallbladder stores this bile until you need it to help break down food. When this process doesn’t work efficiently, you may experience nausea, indigestion, and bloating after meals.
Pain in the upper right corner of your abdomen, underneath your rib cage is another sign that your liver is inflamed.
- Hormonal imbalance symptoms
Low testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone levels can show up as low libido, hair loss, fatigue, increased body fat, poor sleep, and decreased bone mass.
The enzyme aromatase converts testosterone into estrogen. With too much conversion, low testosterone can be an unwanted side effect that often leads to further hormone imbalances and even heart disease.
The liver plays a critical role in ridding excess hormones (like estrogen) from your body.
When there’s a buildup of these estrogens, symptoms are exacerbated and you may end up gaining weight and feel over-emotional.
- Skin related issues
Your skin becomes a detox pathway when toxins build up in the system and the liver isn’t able to process those toxins out. As a result, your skin starts to clog, causing conditions like acne, rosacea, rashes, psoriasis, dermatitis, and eczema.
You may use topical creams to put out the flame, but many times the problem is a congested liver. Once you cleanse the liver, these conditions are more likely to heal.
- Bad breath or white coating on the tongue
If you stick out your tongue, look in the mirror, and see a white film, it may be another indicator you have a sluggish liver.
This white coating leads to bad breath. You may try to scrape the coating off in an attempt to fix the problem. But unless you address the root, the white coating will return.
Your mouth, gut, and liver are all part of your digestive tract and play a role in digestion. This white coating is a sign that you’re not digesting your food well, and a sign of yeast or bacterial overgrowth in the gut.
If you want to look at the current state of your hormones to address the root cause, you can purchase the DUTCH test for hormones and I’ll include an interpretation and offer guidance with next steps to address what’s causing your imbalances.
What makes Dutch hormone Testing different is that it captures more information about your hormones in one simple test. It offers a uniquely comprehensive look at the hormones, showing risk factors for conditions such as prostate or breast cancer, for example.
This in-depth look at the hormones allows you to better address the underlying cause of imbalance, rather than using a hormone or medication to put out fires related to symptoms. It offers insight so you can address the cause in a more natural way.