The Microbiome-Hormone Axis

Your microbiome plays a critical role in keeping you healthy. Microbes in your gut act on multiple facets of your gut health, such as appetite control, nutrient absorption, and immune system function [1]. Stomach bacteria hold so much control over these vital functions through their ability to influence hormones. They gain this power through the microbiome-hormone axis.

What are Hormones?

We all think we know what hormones are, but how many really understand what they do? Hormones are a vital part of our endocrine system and are some of the most essential signaling tools that our bodies have. These communication devices control functions in our bodies, affecting everything from growth and development to storing energy [2]. 

While hormones are influential, they are also quite sensitive. Hormone production can become altered significantly by any changes within the body. Let’s take a closer look at the connection between hormones and gut health.

Hormones and Gut Health

Hormones play an integral role in our digestive system. When hormones get thrown off, it can have disastrous consequences for many aspects of our health.

One analysis on the microbiome-hormone axis found,

“The gut microbiota is able to affect GI motility via gut hormones…Both the gut microbiota and gut hormones also play pivotal roles in metabolism, the brain-gut axis, and systemic immunity…
The research field focusing on interactions between gut microbiota and gut hormones may be referred to as ‘microbial endocrinology,’ and is expected to become a focus of intense interest in the near future [3].”  

J Neurogastroenterol Motil
microbiome-hormone axis
Hormonal imbalance
is a pain

Dysfunctional hormones have a significant impact on the development of gastro diseases.

Common GI conditions caused by an out-of-whack microbiome-hormone axis include:

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Bloating
  • Dysmenorrhea
  • Constipation
  • Functional Dyspepsia

With hormones out of control, the gut biome becomes compromised. Through the microbiome-hormone axis, this becomes a never-ending cycle. That’s because your gut biome also regulates hormone production.

Short-Chain Fatty Acids and Hormones

One of the beneficial byproducts of a healthy microbiome is an abundance of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) [4]. The most common short-chain fatty acids produced by your gut microbiome are acetate, propionate, and butyrate. These short-chain fatty acids are essential in preventative care. 

An analysis of short-chain fatty acids and heart disease found,

“SCFAs from gut microbiota have been shown to affect insulin sensitivity and suppress insulin-mediated fat accumulation [12]. SCFAs also regulate energy intake by stimulating the secretion of satiety hormones GLP1 and PPY. Administration of SCFAs without changing food intake or exercise lowered body weight and increased insulin sensitivity in mice on a high-fat diet [5].”

Gut Microbes.
microbiome-hormone axis
SCFAs can make you look and feel good

In addition, these powerful fatty acids act as messengers. SCFAs aid in the production of many different gut hormones.

Without these critical compounds produced by your stomach bacteria, your gut cannot signal hormone production.

This hiccup in communication can lead to the many gastroenterology diseases we discussed above.

Microbiome-Hormone Axis and Mental Health

In addition to the production of short-chain fatty acids, your gut is responsible for the production of 90 percent of the body’s serotonin [6]. Serotonin is a critically important hormone that influences a number of essential functions.

microbiome-hormone axis
Drained

This neurotransmitter regulates:

  • Sleep-Wake Cycle
  • Muscle Function
  • Emotions
  • Mood
  • Appetite
  • Sexual Desire
  • Body Temperature
  • Memory
  • Social Interactions

With so many essential facets of human existence thrown off, it’s no wonder that low levels of serotonin have been linked to mental health disorders [7]. The microbiome-hormone axis only get further entwined from here.

Microbiome-Hormone Axis and Immune System

When our gut health is out of whack, the ensuing hormonal imbalances also compromise the immune system. As hormones get out of whack, it sparks inflammation. Inflammation is a key player in a dysfunctional gut. 

Hormonal imbalance
sparks inflammation

An inflamed gut has been linked to a wide range of gastrointestinal diseases [8]. However, chronic inflammation has also exhibited adverse effects on hormone production as well [9]. 

Inflammation occurs because of the immune system. Sometimes inflammation is necessary for fighting off infection.

However, when the immune system is constantly in overdrive, inflammation becomes chronic. That is when problems arise.

Gut Health and Inflammatory Response

Serotonin produced in the gut has been shown to facilitate a healthy immune response that allows for a decrease in unnecessary inflammation.

One analysis of this pivotal neurotransmitter of the microbiome-hormone axis stated,

“Besides its role as a neurotransmitter, serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5HT) regulates inflammation and tissue repair via a set of receptors (5HT(1-7)) whose pattern of expression varies among cell lineages…
5HT inhibited the LPS-induced release of proinflammatory cytokines without affecting IL-10 production, upregulated the expression of M2 polarization-associated genes (SERPINB2, THBS1, STAB1, COL23A1), and reduced the expression of M1-associated genes [10].”

J Immunol. 

This data shows that the gut biome allows for a healthy immune response with low-grade inflammation. It promotes these favorable conditions by helping to maintain healthy serotonin levels that keep inflammation low.

Understanding the Microbiome-Hormone Axis

The microbiome affects many aspects of our health, including hormonal regulation. Since hormones are so important in our health, it is essential to take care of your microbiome and gut health. When you get your gut health in check, hormonal balance will follow.

Here at Thryve, we offer personalized probiotic supplements that help you to achieve optimal gut health. We can help you create a more balanced microbiome, which will lead to more balanced hormones.

Thryve Probiotics Gut Health

Resources

[1] Fukui, H., Xu, X., & Miwa, H. (2018). Role of Gut Microbiota-Gut Hormone Axis in the Pathophysiology of Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders. Journal of neurogastroenterology and motility24(3), 367–386. doi:10.5056/jnm18071

[2] “Your Health and Hormones.” Hormone Health Network, www.hormone.org/your-health-and-hormones.

[3] Fukui, H., Xu, X., & Miwa, H. (2018). Role of Gut Microbiota-Gut Hormone Axis in the Pathophysiology of Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders. Journal of neurogastroenterology and motility24(3), 367–386. doi:10.5056/jnm18071

[4] den Besten, Gijs, et al. “The Role of Short-Chain Fatty Acids in the Interplay between Diet, Gut Microbiota, and Host Energy Metabolism.” Journal of Lipid Research, The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Sept. 2013, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23821742.

[5] Morrison, D. J., & Preston, T. (2016). Formation of short chain fatty acids by the gut microbiota and their impact on human metabolism. Gut microbes7(3), 189–200. doi:10.1080/19490976.2015.1134082

[6] “Microbes Help Produce Serotonin in Gut.” Home, www.caltech.edu/about/news/microbes-help-produce-serotonin-gut-46495.

[7] McIntosh, James. “Serotonin: Facts, Uses, SSRIs, and Sources.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 2 Feb. 2018, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/232248.php#treatment_SSRIs.

[8] Boulangé1, Claire L., et al. “Impact of the Gut Microbiota on Inflammation, Obesity, and Metabolic Disease.” Genome Medicine, BioMed Central, 20 Apr. 2016, genomemedicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13073-016-0303-2

[9] MacDonald, Thomas T., and Giovanni Monteleone. “Immunity, Inflammation, and Allergy in the Gut.” Science, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 25 Mar. 2005, science.sciencemag.org/content/307/5717/1920.

[10] de las Casas-Engel, Mateo, et al. “Serotonin Skews Human Macrophage Polarization through HTR2B and HTR7.” Journal of Immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950), U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Mar. 2013, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23355731.