You may be surprised to find out that underlining the lack of control you have over your mood, weight gain, fatigue and various health issues, are imbalanced hormones.
If you struggle to feel energized or engaged in your daily tasks, you’re not alone. The good news is that you can get control back. There are some smart strategies you can use to get your life back on track, and in such simple ways that you will maintain-and share with others.
The secret is that the center of your health universe is in your gut!
Yes, your gut plays THE starring role in the essential functions of your organs. How these organs work, are largely based on the signaling of hormones that are sent their way.
If you are one of the many people who are joining the movement to #rewriteyourhealth then you may have already found some dazzling results from my elimination diet. If not, I encourage you to click here.
Knowing which foods give you the most regularity and energy and which ones make you feel sluggish and drained, is just one step in helping to balance your hormones. This is because your diet plays a key role in how your hormones either work for you or against you. There are a couple other factors that also have an impact on the expression of your hormones, and I will share those with, in just a moment. But first, let me share with you this fact:
Your Gut Does More Than Just Digest Food
Your gut performs a number of crucial protective, structural and metabolic functions. This includes food processing, digestion of complex carbs, synthesis of vitamins, hormone signaling, and displacing harmful bacteria. The presence of flora in your gut is known as your ‘microbiome’ and its development started at your birth.
Interestingly, existing data indicates that those born by cesarean section develop a different microbiome than those vaginally delivered, as through exposure to their maternal source, they receive a complex mix of flora. And it is critical to know that...Your microbiome holds over 70% of your immune system which is your bodies shield of defense from illness and disease.
After 1 to 3 years of age, your adult-like microbiome and its bacterial components are formed. Bacteria in your gut are influenced by the food you eat, medications or antibiotics you take, the toxins in your products and in the environment around you, and your levels of stress. All of those aspects go towards influencing the health of the bacteria in your gut which also dictates how healthy YOU are and how healthy you age. And if your gut is healthy, oftentimes, the hormones it is responsible for producing, are too.
How Your Gut Produces Hormones
Cutting-edge studies on the human microbiome show that not only do bacteria in the gut produce hormone-like substances and regulate hormonal output, they can also respond to hormonal secretions in your gut. Let me break that down:
How your gut is involved in hormone production depends on the environment that they are provided.
So, for example, if you are not eating nutrient-rich foods, and/or you find yourself chronically stressed, you are not providing your bacterial cells the support they need to create a healthy response. Instead, the poor food choice is killing the good bacteria and proliferating the growth of harmful bacteria. Your chronic stress is also a killer of good bacteria and sends distressed hormone signals to your gut.
Your gut, as your main immune system center, wants to respond to all of this lifestyle warfare to keep you vibrant and going! Yet…When this has been ongoing for so long, you have weakened its defenses and have set yourself up for obesity, cardiovascular disease, metabolic and stress-related disorders.
There are numerous hormones produced or regulated by your gut, that when released into your bloodstream, all have an impact on you. The signature hormones of your gut are short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) and are the product of bacterial fermentation of carbohydrates and proteins. They control the neurotransmitter hormone, serotonin, which offers you those feelings of happiness and well-being. In this way, your gut speaks directly to your brain! We call this the ‘gut-brain axis’.
The ability of your gut to influence so many aspects of your brain and behavioral health extend to regulating cardiovascular functions such as blood pressure, blood clots and even your bladder control!
Other foodstuffs digested by your gut such a fiber, increase the concentration of SCFAs which travel on to affect your central nervous system. They may create a major energy source in cellular metabolism, signaling, gene expression, and can affect the blend of neurotransmitters, or hormones that shape reactions in your body.
Furthering their importance is that SCFAs affect the barrier protection of your intestines from harmful bacteria growth, regulate fat & carbohydrate storage and disposal while providing energy sources for your muscles, kidney, heart and your brain. This involvement with your fatty acids, or lipids, is termed the, ‘gut-liver axis’.
I could spend so much more time covering the variety of hormones produced in your gut such as: serotonin, dopamine, histamines, GABA, noradrenaline, etc. and how they affect you, but the message I want you to internalize and consider is this: The health of your gut health is the driving force behind your overall wellness.
The Strategies for Balancing Your Hormones
There are A LOT of choices you make every day that impact your gut health and therefore your hormonal balance. If you make the effort to stimulate positive changes to your microbiome, then your endocrine, or hormonal output can also be modified.
Imagine how good it would feel to wake up with energy, handle stressful tasks with clarity and a sense of peace. Imagine your skin feeling smooth, your chest not feeling tight, the weight finally coming off and your bowel movements to be so regular, that you don’t worry about an embarrassing dash to the bathroom at a public event.
These very personal and intimate health issues plague many of my patients and I am going to share with you some strategies for balancing the hormones behind these issues, so they can instead, work in your favor.
Strategy # 1: Clean Up Your Daily Diet. You have heard the expression, “You are what you eat”, more times than you can count…so if you’re ready for revitalized health and wellness, it’s time to really MAKE IT COUNT. Think of the food you eat as a reflection of how you want to feel. You may have happy, nostalgic feelings surrounding the idea of a certain food or enjoy it’s smell & taste, but remember how it will help or hurt your health. Food is your fuel!
Strategy # 2: Start taking a probiotic with at least 100 billion CFU’s. This welcomes the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut that help you digest and protect your intestinal lining from harmful bacteria.
Strategy # 3: It is very important that along with taking a probiotic, you are eating foods that act as ‘prebiotics’, or the fibrous substances for which probiotics feed off of for growth. Some examples of prebiotics include: garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, bananas, apples, oats, flax, and high-quality chocolate. (Yes, chocolate! But not the sugary, low-quality kind. Choose ones high in cocoa percentage, ie; the darker the better.)
Strategy # 4: Speak to your Functional Medicine doctor to figure out if you need to take an herbal antibiotic or a detox cleanse to help rid yourself of a toxic bacterial overload in your gut. They will share with you the right, personalized herbs and instructions for safe dosage, and ways of handling the side effects that may accompany the detox.
Strategy # 5: Instill calming activities into your life daily. Make patterns of these activities so that they become habits. Try my breathing technique-click here, or join a local yoga class to benefit your gut-brain axis.
Strategy # 6: When considering use of herbal supplements to help balance hormones, you will need to know which ones will help you the most. Your Functional Medicine doctor will determine this based off of your symptoms, lifestyle, current medications, etc. Some of my favorite herbal remedies come in the form of adaptogens.
*I want to reiterate the fact that you are not alone in your hormonal imbalances. In a fast-paced world full of distraction, rushed decision-making and processed foods, it can be tough to figure out how to establish balance. Try incorporating at least one of my strategies and build upon them over time if you cannot implement them all at once. You’ve got this, and I am here to support you always, with important information and health tips! Be sure to sign up to my weekly blog to stay up-to-date on what you need to #rewriteyourhealth!
To Your Health,
Kiran Grewal MD
"My goal is to share my knowledge with the world. I believe in delivering valuable and ethical content that changes the lives of my patients." -Kiran Grewal MD