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Gut Inflammation and Hormones

At first glance, there may not seem to be a connection between the digestive health and our hormonal systems. But research shows that any type of inflammation in the digestive system can damage the intestinal lining, impairing absorption of the biochemicals that are the raw ingredients for producing steroid hormones such as cortisol, estrogen, and progesterone. The body may then not be able to produce as much of these hormones as it needs.

Increased demand from inflammation and decreased supply from poor absorption can combine to create a hormone imbalance.

The sources of gut inflammation are many but the most common ones are clearly connected to our modern American lifestyle and diet choices. These include:

Eating Too Much Sugar

Particularly in the form of fructose and sucrose, sugar spikes insulin and triggers the release of inflammatory cytokines into the system. Cytokines play an important role in inflammatory bowel diseases, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, where they drive and regulate multiple aspects of intestinal inflammation.

Pathogens and Toxins

Herbicides, gluten grains, and GMO foods, promote intestinal permeability, changing the intestinal flora. A presence of toxins and pathogens are common and most people are unaware of the many symptoms caused by pathogenic or toxin-induced hormonal suppression. Gluten sensitivity, for example, has been shown to generate inflammation and tissue damage in the digestive system.

Stress

Besides the observable stress associated with life-altering events such as divorce, financial problems, or the death of a loved one, stress can be caused by everyday events like a constant, tense rush-hour commute or juggling a job and caring for children. This “hidden stress” can overtime lead to digestive problems, by triggering release of too much cortisol.

Hormone Disrupters

Endocrine disrupters, or hormone disrupters, can spell inflammation and gut flora imbalance. And unfortunately they are everywhere. The list is at 870 and growing. Educate yourself and at the very least, try to avoid parabens, phthalates, and bisphenol-A (BPA) which are the most common offenders in our plastics, air fresheners, dishwashing soap, laundry detergent, cleansers and cleaners, cosmetics, deodorants, toothpaste, shaving gel, and lotions.