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What Is Leaky Gut And How Does It Affect Overall Health & Hormones? (Not Done)

Have you been feeling a bit "off" lately? You can't quite put a finger on it, but all you know is that something isn't right. Many of my patients feel this way before seeking treatment from me. I commonly find that my patients (just like the majority of Americans) have gut issues. These gut issues are usually the root cause of their health problems. One gut issue that I see a lot is leaky gut.

Have you ever heard of leaky gut? It is a major contributor to chronic diseases, autoimmune disorders, and… you guessed it, hormone imbalances. So, why don't conventional doctors pay more attention to your gut? I ask myself the same question! More and more research is showing the significant connection between gut health and overall health. Since I specialize in hormones, I want to share how a damaged, leaky gut can lead to hormonal issues and numerous other health symptoms.

What is Leaky Gut?

Leaky gut is when your gut lining becomes damaged. More specifically, your epithelium on the small intestine's villi becomes impaired due to inflammation and irritation. This damage eventually leads to more space between your cells, and the gut's permeability increases. This means that toxins can travel across your gut barrier or lining more easily.

These toxins can then enter your bloodstream. Because these toxins that are supposed to stay in your gut are in your bloodstream, they can travel all throughout your body. Toxins get to places that they aren't supposed to be, causing your immune system to go into attack mode to defeat these "foreign" substances. Because these toxins are constantly leaking out of the gut and into unwanted places, your immune response is in constant alert mode.

What Causes Leaky Gut?

The main culprits that promote leaky gut are poor diet, stress, environmental toxins, gut infections, and the overuse of antibiotics and NSAIDs.

Symptoms of Leaky Gut

Leaky gut can express itself in several different ways. Here is a list of the most common symptoms, but please note that the full list of symptoms may be much larger than this.

  • Hormone Imbalances

  • Asthma

  • PMS

  • Mood Disorders

  • Depression and Anxiety

  • Uterine Fibroid

  • Brain Fog

  • Food Allergies

  • Chronic Sinusitis

  • Eczema

  • Autoimmune disease

  • Headaches/Migraine

  • Irritable Bowel

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Inflammatory Joint Disorders Including Rheumatoid Arthritis

How Does Gut Health Affect Hormones?

You might be wondering, "okay, so how can leaky gut affect hormones?". Leaky gut and hormones have a significant association with one another. Your gut can have an impact on your hormones in a couple of ways.

Immune Response and Adrenal Burn Out

Because your immune system is continuously responding, your adrenals are also constantly working on overdrive to produce immune agents. Overactive adrenals and overactive immune response create a vicious cycle harming your body. At first, your adrenals work extensively, causing high levels of cortisol (stress hormone). But then, your adrenals become so overworked that they "burn out", and very low levels of cortisol are produced. Both high and low levels are not optimal for the body.

Your adrenals can be the foundation of your hormonal health. When your adrenal function is not working optimally, it creates a domino effect on your hormones. Your thyroid becomes out of balance, and then your sex hormones follow. Eventually, all your hormones are not optimally balanced, causing a number of health problems.

Leaky Gut and Estrobolome

Leaky gut and other gut imbalances can cause an imbalance of hormones, including your estrogen levels. It does this by disrupting your estrobolome, located in your intestinal epithelial cells (same place where leaky gut occurs). Your estrobolome is the gut bacteria that metabolizes estrogens. When harmful gut bacteria overgrows the beneficial strains, your estrogen levels may become too high. This may cause issues linked with excess estrogens, like thyroid issues, increased risk of blood clots, and stroke.

I hope you understand a little about how your hormones and gut health are connected. To help find the root cause of my patient's hormone imbalances, leaky gut is one issue I investigate. If I find that your gut needs some assistance, I set up a plan for you to start restoring your gut barrier. This will decrease the gut's permeability and keep molecules in their right locations.

How To Restore Gut Health To Help Your Hormones

What To Eat For Leaky Gut

Food can be your gut's best friend or worst enemy, depending on what you consume. To help your leaky gut, consume the following foods.

  • Fresh whole foods

  • Veggies (fresh and fermented) - kale, peppers, kimchi, sauerkraut

  • Fruit - berries are great!

  • Whole grains (gluten-free)- quinoa, millet, rice

  • Bone Broth- provides collagen and gelatin, which are great for leaky gut

  • Healthy Fats- from avocados and nuts

Avoid the following to inhibit worsening your leaky gut:

  • Alcohol

  • Artificial or processed foods

  • Foods you may be sensitive to (ask about my Food Sensitivity Test I offer)

  • Highly consider avoiding nightshades, grains, and dairy (these are some of the most common foods that people have a sensitivity to)

Leaky Gut & Hormone Balancing Herbs/Supplements

  • Adaptogenic herbs like Ashwagandha, Siberian ginseng, and Rhodiola Rosea (Arctic root).

  • Vitex (aka Chasteberry)

  • Arabinogalactan is a type of prebiotic fiber

  • Probiotics

  • L-glutamine

  • Slippery Elm

  • Collagen

  • Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL)

  • Marshmallow Root

  • Aloe Vera

Reduce Stress to Help Your Gut

  • Practice yoga

  • Try Guided Meditation

  • Journal for 10 minutes a day

  • Talk to a friend

  • Go outside and get some fresh air

  • Practice grounding

  • Do some light exercise with an activity you love

  • Light some candles and enjoy a quiet bath

Need A Doctor Who Takes Leaky Gut Seriously?

Many people don't know what leaky gut is, or they may not know that they have it. Through testing and analysis, we can see if gut health is something that needs to be addressed for you. Honestly, in this day and age, everyone could use a little gut healing!

If you are concerned that your hormone imbalance symptoms are from leaky gut, please contact Dr. Jillian Smithers. She is a naturopathic doctor who specializes in hormone health. She's currently accepting new patients. Schedule your FREE 15 minute consultation to discuss your health concerns and see if you’re a good fit. Let’s optimize your health and get you back to feeling like yourself!

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