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The Effects of Gut Dysfunction on Hormonal Health _Final

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>> Hi there, and welcome back. We've all heard the phrase "Listen to your gut." But do you know what yours is saying? In this section of the course, you're going to learn the language of the gut so that you can not only listen to it but also, and more importantly, understand what it's trying to say. The key to any functional approach toward hormonal health involves looking at the underlying mechanisms that can contribute to hormonal imbalances in the first place. There are few organs in the body that influence our hormones and our overall health more than the gut. As we embark on our journey through gut health there is one simple rule to always keep in mind, we are only as healthy as the food that we can digest. This means that if the gut isn't functioning optimally, it doesn't matter how great the quality of food is when it goes into a person's mouth. If it can't be broken down and delivered as essential nutrients to the rest of the body, then hopefully it tasted good because that's about all the benefits you're going to get from it. The endocrine system in particular depends on those essential nutrients in order to function properly and to produce adequate levels of hormones. This means that a healthy digestive tract is crucial to healthy hormones, and this is why we've included a section on healing the gut in this course. In addition to its relationship with hormones, the GI tract is also deeply integrated with both the immune system and the nervous system. It contains more cells for both of these systems than any other part of the body. Believe it or not, there are more nerve cells in the gut than there are in the brain. This is further proof that your gut plays a major role in every aspect of your overall health. So what do you say? Let's listen to our guts. We'll begin by looking a little closer at the nervous system's connection to the gut. The gut-brain axis is where the nervous system and the GI tract interact. The brain tells the hypothalamus to make Corticotropin-releasing hormone known as CRH. This hormone tells the pituitary gland to make adrenocorticotropic hormone known as ACTH, which then tells the adrenal glands to make cortisol. This is known as the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, better known as the HPA axis for short. This cortisol produced by your adrenal glands can affect how the colon moves, what it absorbs, how much and what kind of mucus it produces, and even the microbiome itself, slowing down the whole system so that the body can concentrate on taking care of whatever is stressing it in real time. This stress response by the body is great for a hunter-gatherer on the plains who needs to outrun the lion that's chasing him. It's not such a great thing if it's the job your client hates going to everyday that is totally stressing them out. This is because cortisol production works great in the short-term to do things like fight an attacker or run away from the dangerous situation. But in the long-term, sustained high cortisol production can do damage to the gut and other systems in the body. It takes time to buildup to making big changes, like quitting a job or leaving a relationship that's causing undue amount of psychological stress. That's why it's important to encourage your clients to start small, with easy tweaks to their daily routine or diet, so they can bridge the gap between where they're currently at and where they'd like to be six months or a year from now. Only recently has it been understood that the stress response works the other way around as well. In other words, the gut microbes can affect the HPA axis. When there is leaky gut, it's even easier for the bacteria to communicate with the nervous system. This might seem like a good thing but it can be a big problem because the unfriendly bacteria can change the system to make it easier for them to multiply and harder for your body to function the way it's meant to. When the microbiome grows imbalanced with inflammatory bacteria and yeast overgrowth, this can affect the movement of the GI tract, absorption of nutrients, production of mucus, and hormone secretion. It can also cause pain and possibly more serious conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease. You can see that the gut and the nervous system are intimately connected influencing one another in each direction. Now let's focus on how the gut is connected to specific hormones including insulin, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and thyroid. We'll also look at the connection to the common conditions caused by imbalances of these hormones. First, gut health strongly affects insulin and blood sugar management. Therefore a healthy GI tract will help a person maintain normal blood sugar. This probably doesn't come as a huge surprise since blood sugar is affected by so many factors including stress, obesity, and inflammation. Maintaining the right PH level and the right bacteria are both critical to keeping insulin levels and insulin sensitivity in the normal range. When gut microbes get out of whack, it can wreak havoc on insulin sensitivity. It can even directly affect the pancreas targeting and killing the beta cells that produce insulin. Gut dysbiosis or a microbial imbalance in the gut has an affect on the menstrual cycle and fertility as well. Estrobolome is relatively new term that refers to the set of gut bacteria that can produce and break down estrogen in the GI tract. Your gut flora can either predispose you to having excess estrogen or an estrogen deficiency based on how certain species of bacteria in your gut metabolize estrogen. While conventional medicine is just discovering this, functional medicine has long considered this to be very important to hormonal health. The liver breaks estrogen down to its inactive form and sends it out through the bile into the GI tract to exit the body. But when the gut is unbalanced, unfriendly bacteria that are lurking can reactivate estrogen. Throughout the GI tract in both men and women, there are estrogen receptors that bring estrogen back into the body. Unfortunately, this can work against us when there is an overgrowth of bad bacteria because it can cause estrogen dominance. Additionally, the stomach cells that produce acid can also produce estrogen. When these cells send out large amounts of estrogen, the appetite gets stimulated. In a normal system, estrogen is produced when there hasn't been food in the stomach in a while. But a person who consumes food containing bisphenol A which you probably know as BPA, for example, can increase appetite even in the presence of food. This is because BPA contains estrogen like molecules that mimic this hormone in the body. It's becoming common knowledge to avoid BPA because of toxicity, but your clients may not realize that it also causes increased appetite which can lead to unwanted weight gain and even obesity in the long-term. Encourage your clients to avoid any plastic products containing BPA or other endocrine disrupting chemicals. I'd like to note that while it might seem worrisome that the stomach produces estrogen, in reality the average stomach is rarely empty enough to trigger significant production leading to estrogen dominance. While we're on the topic of female sex hormones, it's important to mention here that it's long been known that antibiotics can decrease the effectiveness of birth control pills. While we aren't yet sure, exactly why that is, we do know that the antibiotics kill off the friendly gut flora. This may cause both the estrogen and the progesterone in birth control pills to be poorly absorbed. This is important information to share with any of your clients who happen to be on the birth control pill and have been prescribed antibiotics for whatever reason. Encourage them to use a backup form of birth control while they're taking the antibiotics. Moving forward, lipopolysaccharide or LPS for short is a toxin that comes from the cell walls of unfriendly bacteria. When the GI tract is out of balance and a person has leaky gut, LPS can travel across the gut barrier and create hormonal imbalances. These toxins can have far reaching effects particularly on the immune system. In fact, they have been accused of being the cause of many autoimmune disorders. LPS can directly affect the ovaries, decreasing progesterone production which then causes luteal phase deficiency or a shortened luteal phase. This disrupts the menstrual cycle and maybe a contributing factor to infertility. Lipopolysaccharides from leaky gut may also play a role in polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS. You see, the LPS revs up the immune system, and in the case of the PCOS, this interferes with the insulin receptor function resulting an increasing insulin levels. The insulin receptors get blocked by the inflammation which builds up insulin in the blood stream. This makes the ovaries produce more androgens, like testosterone, which then interferes with normal follicle development. This can cause menstrual irregularity, increased facial and body hair, and small cysts on the ovaries, three of the major signs of PCOS. The thyroid gland is also affected by gut imbalance. Hashimoto's thyroiditis maybe caused or at least worsened by LPS. The LPS attacks the thyroid causing the body to produce antibodies against its own thyroid cells. The gut bacteria themselves also help the body manage autoimmunity with the friendly bacteria helping to improve it and the unfriendly bacteria making it more harmful. Finally, the health of the GI tract is connected to endometriosis. Endometriosis is a condition where patches of endometrial cells that normally form inside the uterus are found outside the uterus throughout the abdomen where they don't belong. These cells develop into growths or lesions that respond to the menstrual cycle in the same way the tissue in the uterine lining does. The tissue builds up each month, and then it breaks down and sheds. This is the point where things become problematic because a woman with endometriosis is now menstruating from places she shouldn't be such as the ovaries. Endometriosis can directly affect the GI tract, the endometrial lesions which are similar to the uterine lining are sticky and can cause lubes of bowel to stick together, or to the abdominal wall or the other organs. The endometrial cells can even invade through the wall. This interferes with the gut's ability to keep waste products moving resulting in SIBO, yeast overgrowth, and bacterial imbalance. Similarly to other hormonal disturbances, LPS can leak across the gut barrier and in combination with estradiol promote pelvic inflammation and worsen endometriosis. This concludes our overview of the ways that gut health is connected to hormonal health. Let's recap. We discussed how healthy gut function is necessary for optimal hormone production. Then we reviewed how the gut is connected to the nervous system and the immune system. Finally, we focused on how the gut is connected to specific hormones including insulin, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and thyroid, as well as conditions caused by the imbalances of these hormones. We'd love for you to join the conversation in the Facebook group. Prior to this lecture, did you know that gut dysbiosis can impact so many hormones in the body? Do you or have you ever had experiences with gut imbalances? If so, can you see how a connection to it may have impacted your hormonal health? Let's all support each other and remember you only need to share whatever you're comfortable disclosing. Thank you so much for watching, and we look forward to seeing you in the next lecture.

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Duration: 11 minutes and 16 seconds
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Language: English
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Posted by: ninaz on Mar 31, 2018

The Effects of Gut Dysfunction on Hormonal Health _Final

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