Table of Contents
Wondering if your bloated belly and digestive system issues could be related to your hormones? Studies show that hormones and gut health affect each other. Endocrine disruptors could not only be throwing your hormones off kilter but also making a mess of your gut microbiome. Let’s answer ten of the most common questions we get about hormones, gut health, and endocrine disruptors and how they all affect each other.
Can you explain what an endocrine disruptor is?
Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interfere with the natural function of the endocrine system. The endocrine system is a network of glands and organs. Glands produce and release a variety of hormones which serve different functions in the body. The endocrine system is critical to our body and mind’s total health and function.
Endocrine disruptors are ubiquitous. We can find them in the air we breathe, our water supply, the soil we farm, and in the products we put on and in our bodies. However, we can avoid them with a little research and guidance. Learning where to find endocrine disruptors can help you avoid them and preserve your hormonal health.
How do endocrine disruptors affect hormone health?
Endocrine disruptors can interfere in a host of ways such as blocking the production of some hormones or stopping hormones from doing what they should. They can also mimic hormones. When hormones aren’t produced or are inhibited from doing their jobs, it can have huge effects. Endocrine disruptors cause hormonal imbalances in the body resulting in our not behaving or feeling like ourselves.
How do endocrine disruptors affect gut health & digestion, specifically?
According to a recent study out of France, endocrine disruptors affect and alter the gut microbiome. It also showed that they damage good bacteria in the microbiome. Gut microbiota has also been shown to transform certain endocrine disruptors, specifically certain environmental pollutants, increasing their toxicity.
When our gut microbiome is unhealthy, we feel it! Symptoms such as bloating, discomfort, fatigue, eczema, acne, gas, constipation, diarrhea, and heartburn can occur when our gut cannot properly process and break down food and eliminate waste. You can also experience depression, anxiety, and mood swings since the good bacteria in the gut support the production and regulation of mood-enhancing chemicals like dopamine and serotonin.
Why should we keep an eye out for these common endocrine disruptors?
These common, everyday endocrine disruptors affect us in a myriad of ways. They can affect our mood, leaving us prone to depression and anxiety. They can affect our fertility levels and sex drive. Endocrine disruptors can cause rashes and skin lesions as well as irritation and inflammation.
Endocrine disruptors we come in contact with every day, sometimes multiple times each day can also lead to serious illnesses and diseases such as cancer, diabetes, thyroid disorders, reproductive issues, developmental and cognitive disorders, Parkinson’s disease, and learning disorders.
Why is hormone health important?
Hormones play a major role in our daily lives. Hormones touch every part of bodily health including functions like blood sugar, growth, blood pressure, stress, fertility, sex drive, sleep, and metabolism. Hormones not only affect our physical health but our mental health as well. How we feel and act is influenced by our hormones. This is why we need to be aware of and protect ourselves from endocrine disruptors that negatively impact our hormonal health. We need to treat it the same way we do when we look at the label when making food choices.
How do hormones relate to gut health?
Hormones and gut health have a cyclical effect on one another. When gut health is off, hormones become imbalanced.
The gut microbiome is influenced by sex hormones, especially estrogen. The microbiome also plays an important role in regulating estrogen. Studies extrapolated that poor gut health is linked to a higher risk of estrogen-related diseases like endometriosis, PCOS, and breast cancer.
Nearly all of the hormone serotonin, a feel-good hormone, is created and stored in the gut. When hormones are imbalanced, people are more likely to feel anxious or depressed due to dips in serotonin.
The gut also affects the thyroid, healthy cholesterol levels, inflammation levels, and other sex hormones. This is why it is so important to restore gut health.
What does it mean to balance your hormones?
Hormonal balancing is when your body has the right amount of every hormone. The hormones all work together and when one is off it can affect others, creating a domino effect in the body. Balancing your hormones brings you back to your natural hormonal state.
How can I balance my hormones naturally?
There are many ways you can naturally balance your hormones. Here are a few easy-to-implement ideas for balancing your hormones:
- Get enough sleep
- Exercise regularly
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Reduce stress
- Eat adequate amounts of protein
- Lower your sugar intake
- Eat plenty of fiber
- Eat healthy fats
Try adding a new habit each week to slowly and consistently balance your hormones in the most natural way possible.
What are the symptoms of hormonal imbalance?
There are several symptoms that point to you suffering a hormone imbalance.
Universal Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance:
While some symptoms differ between the sexes, here are some of the most common symptoms to be aware of:
- Unexplained weight gain or weight loss
- Numbness & tingling in the hands
- Darkened skin in your armpit or the back and sides of the neck
- Skin tags
- Irregular body fat distribution
- Diarrhea or frequent bowel movements
- Depression or anxiety
Women specifically may experience these symptoms of hormonal imbalance:
- Hair loss or excess body hair
- Hot flashes
- Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
- Heavy periods
- Diminished libido
- Vaginal atrophy and/or dryness
- Acne on the face, chest, or upper back.
Men may experience these symptoms of hormonal imbalance:
- Decrease or loss of body hair
- Diminished libido
- Loss of muscle mass
- Erectile Dysfunction
- Enlarged breast tissue (Gynecomastia)
If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms and believe that hormonal imbalance may be the culprit, schedule an appointment with your doctor.
What kind of products typically have endocrine-disrupting effects?
Here’s the scary news – endocrine disruptors are everywhere! Unfortunately, endocrine disruptors are found in many of the products we use every day. However, knowing where to find endocrine disruptors is the first step to avoiding them. You can take control of your hormonal health by avoiding products that contain them and opting for safer, hormone-friendly products in their place.
Endocrine disruptors are most often found in:
- Plastics like water bottles and food containers
- Plastic wraps
- Unfiltered water
- Some linings of cans
- Body creams
- Shampoos, conditioners, and other hair grooming products
- Household cleaners and detergents
- Pesticides – both commercial and home use
If you’d like to see an expanded list with more detail, check out our Endocrine Disruptor Blacklist.
There’s still much to learn about endocrine disruptors (and we’re all still learning). Are you concerned your hormones might be unbalanced? Take this quick 5 minute assessment
Hormone University is now launching the first and only certification for endocrine-disruptor free products.
Hormone University’s Seal of Approval vets and certifies products to help consumers make good choices to improve and maintain hormonal health. You can learn more here #EndocrineFreeProducts
Hormone University was created as an educational platform with the mission to improve hormone health through accessible knowledge and to advocate for social impact in our communities.
You’re not alone.
80% of the adult female population has experienced hormonal imbalance at one point in their life that affected not only their physical health but also their mental health. Coping with pain, infertility, anxiety, depression, body image issues, and, on top of this, judgment is the heavy load most of these women have to bear each day and an important problem we need to tackle as a society.