Gut Microbiome and the Endocrine System

We hear a lot these days about ‘microbiome’ and it is a term which is even beginning to appear in adverts for beauty products. The Gut microbiome is an area of particular interest to me and I was fortunate to attend a lecture by Kiran Krishnan, the Chief Scientific Officer for Microbiome Labs USA. Read about Kiran Krishnan

This relevant and fascinating lecture was looking at the relationship between the Gut Microbiome and the Endocrine System. (The production and secretion of hormones)

Everybody has a unique Gut Microbiome. This is a virtual organ which modulates inflammation and affects the hormones produced in the gut.

Hormones and the Gut Microbiome

You may be surprised to learn that Testosterone and Oestrogen are produced in the gut. One collection of microbes in the gut known as the Oestrobolome modulate the circulation and breakdown of oestrogens and so gut imbalance may alter this function and could lead to oestrogen driven disease.

The ‘feel good’ hormones of Serotonin and Dopamine are also directly affected by the presence of certain bacteria in the gut. 90% of Serotonin comes from the gut and is responsible for increasing peristalsis. (The wave like contractions which move the contents of your gut along) Bifido-bacteria produce Tryptophan which increases Serotonin. Low levels of Serotonin can be associated with gut related depression and with constipation.

E-Coli and Salmonella increase the ‘fight and flight’ hormones Adrenaline (Epinephrine) and Noradrenaline (Norepinephrine) and so stress will follow and a leaky gut can result. Conversely Bifidus Longus and Lactobacillus bacteria can reduce Cortisol (the primary stress hormone) levels.

Even Polycystic Ovary Syndrome has been found to result after a gut imbalance and can be treated by increasing the bacteria Akkermansia. These bacteria strengthen the gut wall and reduce inflammation. Levels can also be boosted by eating more polyphenols in the diet and fasting. Polyphenols are found in cocoa, olives, dark chocolate, tea, coffee and red wine.

Testing and Treatment

Clearly the balance of your microbiome directly affects some of your hormones and the bacteria which help them function. Your microbiome can be tested via a stool test to look for any diversity and in particular for what may be missing from your gut Microbiome. Kiran Krishnan recommends following a regime of recondition, reinforce, and rebuild to restore the gut microbiome. You can see him talking about this here.

Read another of Dr Moran’s articles about Microbiome here:  Gut Health and the Microbiome


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