Estrobolome: Gut Health and Hormones

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What is the Estrobolome?

The word “estrobolome” hints at its meaning. You probably recognize the “estro-” of estrogen and the “-ome” from microbiome. The estrobolome is a group of microbes that can influence the estrogen balance in your body. Yes, this applies to all humans on every spectrum of sex and gender.

Why is Estrogen Balance Important?

Estrogen is generally known for its role in secondary sex characteristics in biological females. However, this steroid hormone is present and active in all humans. The adrenal glands, adipose (fat) tissue, and the ovaries all synthesize estrogen.

In the ovaries, estrogen supports fertility by contributing to egg follicle development. It also helps to maintain a healthy uterine lining, regulates the flow of mucus, and stimulates the development of breast tissue in preparation for lactation. 

In males, estrogen plays a role in the maturation of sperm and modulates both erectile function and sex drive. 

Outside of sexual function and fertility, estrogen plays an important role in calcium metabolism. This means it supports bone density, cognitive function, and cardiovascular health in all humans [1].  

An imbalance in estrogen can cause a variety of concerning issues. 

Females with too much estrogen can experience weight gain, mood swings, low or worried moods, exhaustion, heavy menstrual bleeding, hair loss, abnormal growths in breast tissue. Males with too much estrogen can experience overgrowth of breast tissue, sexual dysfunction, infertility, and poor prostate health [1].

Too-low levels of estrogen can also create havoc to your health. Females that don’t have enough estrogen often experience irregular periods, hot flashes, vaginal dryness and uncomfortable intercourse, a low mood, and trouble with the urinary tract. Low estrogen levels in males often present as weight gain, fatigue, or a low mood [2]. Low bone density (or osteoporosis) can be a result of low estrogen in males and females [1]. 

How is Gut Health related to Hormonal Balance?

Gut health is central to the health of all body systems. To name a few examples, your gut health affects your immune system, your mental health, your energy levels, and yes, your hormones. This is because the bacteria and yeast species living in your gut are breaking down foods in your diet and converting them into nutrients and chemicals that can bring benefits or harm to your body. A healthy microbiome living in your gut means you have maximized the bacterial species that bring you benefits, and minimized the species that cause harm.

The estrobolome is just one subsection of bacterial species within your microbiome. A healthy estrobolome mediates the reabsorption of estrogen from the gut ensuring hormone balance. 

The liver metabolizes estrogen and delivers it to the gut for excretion. The estrobolome includes bacteria that produce betaglucuronidase, an enzyme that reverts estrogen back into its unconjugated, active form. 

If there is an overgrowth of these bacteria, we can absorb too much estrogen back into the bloodstream resulting in elevated estrogen levels. Elevated betaglucuronidase and elevated estrogen are both associated with premenstrual difficulties, weight gain, infertility, mood imbalance, poor cardiovascular health, and more [3].

On the other hand, low levels of betaglucuronidase can cause problems too. Without enough microbes creating betaglucuronidase, your body can miss out on plant-based estrogens from the diet and resorption of estrogen when circulating levels are low. This can lead to overall low estrogen levels in the body and symptoms described above. 

How to Support a Healthy Estrobolome

One way to strengthen the health of your gut microbiome is by supplementing with probiotics and prebiotics directly. Another way is to eat probiotic and prebiotic foods. Probiotic supplements and foods contain the species of live microbes that you want to encourage populating your gut environment. Prebiotics are the fiber sources that probiotic bacteria eat to thrive.

Probiotic foods are mostly fermented foods with live bacteria and yeast species like yogurt, sauerkraut, kombucha, and kimchi. If you’d like to try making your own kimchi, try our recipe linked here.

The problem with probiotic food and drinks is that you can’t really know or control exactly which species of bacteria you are consuming, nor the exact abundance. With a probiotic supplement, you can be sure of which species you are consuming, and that they are present in an abundance that is significant to gut health. Metabolic Maintenance offers a fantastic, potent probiotic supplement called BioMaintenance that is shelf-stable, meaning it does not need to be refrigerated. 

Healthy microbes need certain types of fiber to thrive. Prebiotic fiber can be found in many vegetables and whole grains. If you feel your diet may not contain enough prebiotic fiber to feed and maintain your estrobolome, and microbiome on the whole, you can also take a prebiotic fiber supplement

Compounds that promote healthy inflammatory responses and antioxidants both promote better gut health, and ensure better functioning of the estrobolome [2]. Herbs and spices are loaded with such compounds. So is your daily multivitamin. You can also add these types of nutrients as supplements to your health regimen for an extra boost. Check out nutrients like Curcumin + C and Resveratrol for these beneficial properties!

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