ESTIMATED READING TIME 4 MINUTES
Endometriosis affects around one in ten women in the UK, with many more remaining undiagnosed. Many women suffer for years before their condition is diagnosed. At last count, those affected were waiting an average of around eight years to obtain a diagnosis.
Although no single factor causes endometriosis, one important link is to gut health. One clue to this is the fact that many women who suffer from endometriosis also complain of irritable bowel syndrome or other gut issues.
Read on to find out more about this connection and the importance of a healthy gut.
Endometriosis occurs when fragments of the uterus lining become implanted elsewhere in the body. These pieces of womb lining continue to respond to hormonal changes over the month, but they have nowhere to go when menstruation occurs. They may press on nerves, causing extreme pain when menstruating, and can lead to infertility.
Although it’s not altogether clear what causes uterine tissue to go rogue in endometriosis, it appears to be connected with high levels of oestrogen, known as oestrogen dominance. This imbalance is incredibly common.
Endometriosis is also connected to chronic, ongoing inflammation as well as dysfunctions in the immune system.
Your gut has an important role to play in all of these underlying factors.
Your gut is home to an intricate population of many species of bacteria otherwise known as your microbiome. Ideally, beneficial species should predominate, producing all sorts of chemicals to help your body’s processes. It’s a symbiotic relationship – they help you while you provide them with a home.
Sometimes, bacteria can become out of balance, with certain types of disease-causing microbes multiplying out of control. An imbalance of bacteria in the gut microbiome, with certain species becoming more prevalent than others, is connected with endometriosis 1.
Certain unfriendly bacteria produce a type of toxin known as lipopolysaccharide, causing inflammation. This has been found in research to be linked with the formation of endometrial lesions 2.
Your gut is where your immune system resides, so if gut bacteria are out of balance your immune system will be too, promoting excessive inflammation.
Meanwhile, a healthy population of gut bacteria nourish the lining of your intestines. Ideally, this lining should allow substances useful to your body to pass through into your bloodstream while keeping safely inside your intestines anything your body doesn’t need or want. This is a difficult and thankless task.
If the lining of your gut becomes inflamed and leaky, undigested food particles and other nasty substances can access your bloodstream, putting your immune system on red alert. This can cause widespread inflammation which has no chance of subsiding. Not only this, but undesirable bacteria and the toxins they produce may access your bloodstream and make their way into your pelvic cavity.
You might not realise how important your gut is in maintaining balanced oestrogen levels. Gut bacteria convert the hormone into an active form. If your gut bacteria is out of balance, an excess of active oestrogen may be released.
Any surplus oestrogen destined to be eradicated into the outside world also travels along your gut. If your bowels are sluggish and the contents take a long time to move along, this oestrogen may be recycled and absorbed back into your bloodstream again.
Last but maybe most obvious, poor gut health will mean you’re not absorbing nutrients from your food effectively. This can in turn cause hormone imbalances.
Quick wins to support your gut include feasting on plant-based foods providing plenty of fibre to feed your gut bacteria, avoiding sugar and enjoying fermented foods and drinks like kefir, kombucha and sauerkraut.
Stress is your gut’s enemy, plus ongoing stress steals progesterone, pushing oestrogen levels sky-high.
Endometriosis can be a tricky disease to manage alone because there is much still to be learned about its causes. But much more can be done to naturally support your gut, balance oestrogen levels and control inflammation. Your programme will be unique to you, because your health is unique, too.
Functional testing can reveal if your gut bacteria is out of kilter, whether your gut lining is too permeable, if inflammation is an issue for you and whether your oestrogen is out of balance. Accurate information about exactly what’s going wrong in your body can then inform your practitioner as to the best ways to put things right.
Functional medicine will always look for root causes and put these imbalances right, rather than simply masking symptoms. I will support you every step of the way. Contact Embracing Nutrition to take the first steps towards overcoming endometriosis.
Would you like natural support for Endometriosis? Then book a free 15-minute discovery call to see if Functional Medicine is for you.
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