ENDOMETRIOSIS// How your gut health can impact hormone related health conditions
It seems as though gut health is implicated in so many diseases, and endometriosis is definitely no exception. Given the importance of gut health, it’s critical role in inflammation and the detoxification of hormones through the liver, it makes sense to suggest that improving gut health should improve endometriosis symptoms.
Endometriosis and its causes are not fully understood, however, there are two extremely pivotal connections that have been linked to the functioning of endometriosis, and gut health is at the core of both of them.
These two factors are:
Your microbiome: Given many women with endometriosis also suffer from gut health problems such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), it doesn’t seem too far-fetched that our gut’s microbiome might play a role in the condition. Evidence suggests that the microbiome may influence the immune response in endometriosis. Endometriosis appears to be associated with increased levels of certain types of bacteria such as Escherichia coli (E. Coli), a type of bacteria known to produce a toxin called lipopolysaccharide (LPS), which causes an inflammatory response (hence, the immune system's involvement). One theory is that these proinflammatory bacteria and LPS may move from the gut into the pelvic cavity promoting the onset and progression of endometriosis lesions. Bacteria isn’t supposed to move from our gut to other locations in the body, this only tends to happen when the integrity of the intestinal lining is compromised (leaky gut).
In addition, as we already know, the gut microbiome can also alter oestrogen metabolism and detoxification. When our microbiome is imbalanced, it can increase the amount of free circulating oestrogen and, given endometriosis is an oestrogen dependent condition, this is not an ideal situation. Oestrogen isn’t a cause of endometriosis, but higher oestrogen levels can exacerbate symptoms and worsen pain. Beta-glucuronidase is an enzyme within the gut that de-conjugates oestrogen. This means that it allows oestrogen to be reabsorbed into the bloodstream. Elevated beta-glucuronidase levels are associated with a gut microbiome imbalance. These increased levels are associated with diets that are higher in sugar, processed foods, and alcohol, as well as unresolved chronic stress and systemic inflammation.
Your immune system: Endometriosis is a disease that involves a dysfunctional and dysregulated immune response and systemic and elevated inflammation.The two major parts of the immune system (innate and adaptive) function inappropriately together in women who suffer from endometriosis. The innate immune system often fails to do its job of removing endometriosis tissue, thus causing a pro-inflammatory environment which promotes the growth of new blood vessels - important for the development of endometriosis. And the adaptive immune system, which is the part that responds to antigens and makes antibodies, struggles to maintain tolerance to self-antigens and prevent autoimmune disease. Studies suggest that a dysregulated immune response exaggerates local inflammation and angiogenesis, and thus facilities endometriosis progression. What is one of our central immune system homeostasis regulators?
If you're struggling with endometriosis, focusing on your gut health is one of the first and most important things you can do. If you’re looking for more guidance and direction as to how to reduce the severity of your symptoms and manage the condition, nutrition and naturopathy can be extremely effective.Book naturopath appointment