How does gut health affect your hormones?

More and more women want to learn about hormone health. Crucially, what factors affect hormone health and what can we do about it?

A fast developing area is the field of gut microbiome hormone health.

For far too long, this topic has been in the shadows, despite its profound impact on mood, sleep, energy, weight, and more …

Why gut microbiome health and hormones?

Until recently, little was known about the relationship between hormone health and the trillions of microbes (mainly bacteria) that live in our gut – the gut microbiome.

Scientists now know that our gut microbiome helps regulate hormones, with a powerful effect on mood, sleep, and weight (as well as the obvious reproductive functions)

Our gut microbiome and hormones are linked in several ways, and optimizing gut health is a great to way to keeping our hormones in balance.

Our microbiome helps produce and regulate hormones, for example, oestrogen.

During perimenopause, our oestrogen levels may fluctuate and cause various symptoms, such as hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings, and cognitive changes.

A healthy gut microbiome can help maintain a balance of oestrogens and prevent excess or deficiency of these hormones. It can also support our metabolism, immunity, and overall well-being. So it’s well worth learning how gut health affects hormones

Where to look for hormone happiness

You may know of Dr Aviva Romm, the Yale-trained and internationally renowned women’s health expert, and author of Hormone Intelligence, a brilliant book on the topic.

Packed with practical advice, the herbs and supplements that Dr Romm recommends specifically for gut health, perimenopause, and sleep are listed in the table below.

If you take any medications, or if in doubt, do make sure to consult your doctor!

 Benefits and uses
Herb or supplementGut healthPerimenopauseSleepNotes & additional benefits
5-HTP  Anxiety
Ashwagandha
(an adaptogen)
 Stress, thyroid support, endometriosis
CBD (Cannabidiol) Anxiety, endometriosis
Chamomile extract  
Curcumin/turmeric  Stress/adrenal support, endometriosis
DGL licorice   
DHEA  NB avoid in case of hormone-positive cancer
Ginger  IBS, endometriosis
Hops Anxiety, restlessness
Kava kava  Anxiety, depression
L-glutamine  Immune function
Lemon balm   
Maca
(an adaptogen)
  Anxiety, depression, stress/adrenal support
Magnesium  Stress/adrenal support
Marshmallow root  Anti-inflammatory
Melatonin  Endometriosis
Motherwort  Anxiety
Omega 3 fatty acids
(EPA/DHA – fish/algae-derived)
  Endometriosis
Probiotics
(see below)
Various, depending on the probiotic
Puraria mirifica  May aid memory
Reishi
(an adaptogen)
 Stress/adrenal support
Shatavari
(an adaptogen)
  •Stress/adrenal support
Vitex (chaste tree)  Low progesterone
Zinc carnosine • 
Table based on Dr Aviva Romm’s advice in Hormone Intelligence . Dr Romm also recommends rhodiola, however, people cam react quite strongly to it (I know I do!), so I’ve not included it on the shortlist.

What are the most powerful probiotics for hormone health, in general?

Not all probiotics are equally effective for hormone health. Different types of bacteria may have different effects on our hormones.

Some of the most powerful probiotics for hormone health are:

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus – can help break down and eliminate excess oestrogen
  • Lactobacillus gasseri – can help regulate estrogen levels
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus – can support optimal estrogen metabolism
  • Bifidobacterium longum – may support healthy estrogen metabolism
  • Lactobacillus crispatus – can help regulate estrogen levels

What are the most powerful probiotics for perimenopause?

Just a word of ‘warning’, expect to pay a premium for good quality probiotics that are backed by science. And remember that not all probiotics are equally effective for hormone health.

Hormones that have been found to be effective for the symptoms of perimenopause include:

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Lactobacillus gasseri
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus
  • Bifidobacterium longum

You can find probiotics in foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi, or take them as supplements.  

You can find probiotics in foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi, or take them as supplements.

Why gut health and sleep?

You’ll see sleep listed in the table overview above because it can have a profound effect on our microbiome. In turn, our gut microbiome affects our sleep.

And, let’s face it, making positive food and lifestyle choices is certainly a lot easier after a good night’s snooze!

What are the most powerful probiotics for sleep?

Despite my initial scepticism (I tried sleep probiotics as a bit of an experiment for myself) their effect on the quality of my sleep has been surprisingly positive.

Hormones and food

Dr Romm’s Hormone Intelligence book is also packed with great recipes to help keep us, and our hormones, happy.

Some ways to improve gut health include eating more vegetables, fiber, and fermented foods, avoiding processed foods and refined sugar, managing stress and getting enough sleep.

In reality though, we’re not always able to prepare and eat home-cooked meals.

A good quality supplement can help bridge the gap when life ‘gets in the way’ and we need a little help to boost our nutrient supply.

Supplements for hormone and gut health

Supplements that include ingredients with proven probiotic and hormone health benefits include Equi Menopause, Microbz Bio-live Women, and Dr Formulated Probiotics OnceDaily Women:

For quality herbs and vitamins, Solgar and Viridian have been my go-to for many years, for ashwaganda, 5-HTP and curcumin, e.g.:

Summary

Hormone and gut health are closely linked, as the bacteria in our gut can affect how our hormones are produced and regulated in our body. Some of the benefits of having a healthy hormone and gut balance are:

  • Improved digestion, mood, fertility, acne, and immunity
  • Reduced symptoms of perimenopause and menopause
  • Lowered risk of oestrogen-related diseases, such as endometriosis  

We can improve our hormone and gut health by eating a balanced diet rich in fibre, probiotics, and plant diversity. We can also avoid triggers of bacterial imbalance, such as antibiotics and processed foods.

If you have any concerns about your hormone or gut health, you should consult your doctor or nurse for advice.

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Please consult a healthcare professional, as needed, and do not exceed the dose recommended for each individual supplement and be careful to mix with other medications.

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