Is Your Recycling Habit Doing You Harm?
Recycling is a hot topic at the moment as we become more conscious of our impact on mother earth. I am all for recycling paper, plastics etc. but there is one kind of recycling you need to STOP immediately. I’m talking about recycling your oestrogen’s.
Oestrogen balance within the body is controlled primarily by the liver. The liver filters the blood and packages excess oestrogen, dumping it into the digestive system to be removed from the body via the stool. However, certain microbes in the gut contain an enzyme called beta-glucuronidase, which unpackages these oestrogens where they become free for absorption back into the blood stream. The oestrogen balance that was just created by removing these oestrogens is now ruined as they re-enter the blood stream creating a state of oestrogen dominance. Oestrogen dominance is linked to conditions including PMS, endometriosis, fibroids, breast cancer, endometrial cancer and even prostate cancer (yep this happens in guys as well).
Enterohepatic recycling (say WHAT?!) is the term used to describe this type of recycling, the worse kind of recycling you can do.
Good gut health is key to reducing oestrogen recycling and achieving hormone balance. If you are struggling with oestrogen dominance, PMS, endometriosis or have a family history of female cancers STOP RECYCLING and focus on achieving good gut health. Read more about why oestrogen dominance is bad here.
What causes oestrogen recycling?
Anything that disrupts the gut microbes will impact oestrogen balance. Many diet and lifestyle factors can impact the gut in a negative way and are responsible for up regulating oestrogen recycling.
The oral contraceptive pill and certain antibiotics both have a negative impact on the gut microbes and have shown to influence beta-glucuronidase activity increasing oestrogen recycling (remember this recycling is bad news).
High fat diets, particularly diets rich in trans and saturated fats are recycling promoters too. A study looking a women with a ‘western diet’ (high fat, high red meats) and vegetarians (low fat, no red meat) showed that the vegetarian women had three times the oestrogen levels in their stools (that’s where we want it) compared to the western diet women. The link? Beta-glucuronidase activity was significantly lower in the vegetarians.
Consuming meat from animals given growth hormones is also linked to increase beta-glucuronidase activity and therefore increased oestrogen recycling. Opt for hormone free meats or even better organic meat and keep red meat consumption to three to four times per week.
Just one glass of alcohol has the ability to raise blood oestrogen levels. There are a number of ways in which it can do this but one of them is via its impact on gut health. Studies have shown that alcohol causes Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) another term for an unhappy gut. It’s ability to disturb the microbes in the gut result in an increase in beta-glucuronidase activity and therefore oestrogen dominance. Keeping alcohol intake to a minimum is important for hormone health.
The gut plays a crucial role in the regulation of oestrogen having good gut health is vital for good hormone balance.
Well, you don’t want to completely stop the oestrogen recycling but you do need to keep it to a minimum. Promoting gut health by the following suggestions will go a long way to keeping that gut healthy and oestrogen recycling to a minimum.
High Fibre Diet – Consuming a high fibre diet has shown to reduce oestrogen recycling when compared to women on a low fibre diet. Aim for 30g of fibre per day from foods such as wholegrain breads, brown rice, quinoa, vegetables, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds. My favourite way to increase fibre and balance oestrogen is with flaxseed meal 2 tablespoons per day.
Probiotics –as you know are vital for gut health. Certain strains of probiotics have the ability to change the microbes within the gut. Research looking at Lactobacillus acidophilus supplementation on oestrogen levels showed that taking this probiotic reduced beta-glucuronidase activity. Probiotics have also been linked to a decreased breast cancer risk possibly due to the reduction in oestrogen recycling via the gut.
Have you treated your hormonal issues by focusing on gut health? Share your story by leaving a comment below, I love reading them.