Ask Dr Heather Blog

The Gut Hormone Connection
April 18, 2020
Dr. Heather Boyd Roberts

Many women have challenges with the diarrhea, constipation, nausea and other digestive upsets prior to their period. This can happen from hormonal changes around your cycle and from an altered bacterial balance in your intestinal tract, otherwise know as your microbiome.

Around your period, approximately a week prior, your progesterone peaks. Progesterone is a muscle relaxer and can slow motility through your intestines. At that same time your estrogen drops also slowing your intestinal transit, causing bloating and constipation. However, for some women the opposite is true and they end up with diarrhea instead of constipation. This can come from changes in estrogen levels causing spasms in the digestive tract which can increase motility and movement of food through your digestive tract.

The combination of having imbalanced hormones and imbalanced microbiome increases the likelihood that you will experience bowel discomfort around your cycle.

Your microbiome should contain billions of diverse bacteria. Two predominant species are lactobacillus and bifidus. There are a variety of factors that can alter the balance in your bowels including antibiotics, pesticides, GMO food, stress, lack of fiber and a high processed food diet. When this happens you can create bacteria that can allow your excreted estrogen to be reabsorbed changing your hormonal balance. This can alter your bowels and lead to a variety of PMS symptoms including irritability and other mood changes, breast tenderness, fluid retention, hot flashes in addition to the digestive discomfort.

During peri-menopause your hormones slowly drop. This estrogen drop can slow the motility in your bowels and slow your metabolism, which can impact your gut microbiome causing even more digestive problems.

So What can you Do to help your microbiome and your hormonal transitions whether it is through PMS or peri-menopause.

1) Exercise Regularly- Exercise not only increases your metabolism to prevent weight gain, but the movement aids digestive motility and the health of your microbiome.

2) Consume 25 grams of fiber daily- Fiber not only bulks your stool, when combined with plenty of fresh filtered water, it also provides a fuel for your intestinal bacteria. The fiber helps the bacteria produce butyrate which fuels the gut lining, reduces gut inflammation, helps to plug leaky gut and helps the colon cells stay healthy, reducing your risk of colon cancer.

If you are following a lower carbohydrate diet eating 25 grams of fiber is no easy feat. Use BioFiber Complete. Mix 1 scoop with 8oz of water daily. Its fiber is grain free containing flax, chia and broccoli sprouts along with apple pectin.

3) Take a gut healthy probiotic daily - Not all probiotics are created equal. Some bacteria have been found to stimulate sluggish metabolism, which is often the case when hormones are imbalanced. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial there was an average of 2.9 lbs weight loss with using this specific probiotic. The greatest weight loss was in overweight females who were over 50 years old.

4) Consume Poly-phenols - Poly-phenols are micronutrients that are packed with antioxidants. They can improve digestion, aid with weight management, reduce some health risk for cardiovascular disease, and bind to estrogen receptors thereby mimicking or inhibiting the action of estrogens. Poly-phenols are found in apples, turmeric, cranberries, blueberries and pomegranates to name a few. You can eat these foods and take Poly-Prebiotic Powder 1 scoop daily with water. It is a delicious berry tasting powder to power up your microbiome.

Written by Dr. Heather Boyd Roberts of Natural Choice Healthcare Vancouver, Washington