Published August 21, 2023 We’re all about food as medicine here at OO, and when it comes to hormonal health, asparagus is a ‘superfood’ that you should not overlook. Hormonal conditions like endometriosis and estrogen dominance are often driven by an imbalance in the ratio of estrogen to other hormones. Your gut health plays an important role here since proper gut motility and a balanced microbiome allow for the breakdown and excretion of excess hormones like estrogen. This ultimately prevents the recirculation of hormones which can lead to hormonal imbalances. Foods like asparagus are rich in inulin, a fructooligosaccharide that feeds beneficial bacteria and encourages good bacteria population growth. We know this is immensely important because of the influence gut bacteria has on estrogen metabolism and recirculation – especially the portion of our gut bugs known as the ‘estrobolome’. So let’s delve into the role of the microbiome in balanced hormones and how foods like asparagus can help! THE ESTROBOLOME & ITS IMPACT ON ESTROGEN METABOLISM One potential contributor to endometriosis and estrogen dominance is gut inflammation and altered gut microbiota (dysbiosis, aka an overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria). Altered gut microbiota and the often resulting increased intestinal permeability can lead to systemic inflammation and immune dysregulation, not to mention hormone dysregulation. Research shows that a disrupted microbiome is heavily involved in the onset and continuing progression of conditions like endometriosis. Women with endometriosis have higher amounts of dysbiosis overall as well as bacterial overgrowth in the gut microbiome. Further, research has found that the diversity of the gut microbiota in patients with endometriosis is significantly decreased, whereas the ratio of Firmicutes/Bacteroidetes is increased – an unhealthy shift away from optimal microbiome balance. Because gut bacteria diversity and richness are such important overall indicators of health and longevity, the decrease in gut diversity seen in those suffering from endometriosis is significant and concerning. More on this here. Lastly, the gut dysbiosis observed in endometriosis is an important root cause factor when it comes to the estrogen dominance piece, as bacterial overgrowths can actually recirculate estrogen within the gut, which promotes cell proliferation in estrogen-sensitive tissues such as the breasts, endometrium, cervix, and ovaries. This is because unwanted microbes within the segment of the microbiome that influences the metabolism of estrogen (called the estrobolome) produce something called beta-glucuronidase. This enzyme, made by bacteria in high amounts when out of balance, alters estrogens into more active forms, which have a stronger affinity for estrogen receptors. The more beta-glucuronidase that the microbes in your gut produce, the less estrogen is excreted out of the body which ultimately gets recirculated, binds to receptors, and contributes to tissue proliferation in cases of endo. RESTORING MICROBIOTA BALANCE WITH FOOD (ASPARAGUS & MORE) Thus, addressing gut health and restoring balance within the microbiota through a balanced diet rich in not only probiotics, but PREBIOTIC fiber is key to getting back to optimal gut diversity and feeding our ‘good bugs.’ Foods like asparagus are rich in inulin. Inulin is an oligofructose carbohydrate, which is a type of soluble fiber that improves gut motility by supporting a balanced microbiota. Inulin is not digested by enzymes in the body so it makes its way through the GI tract where it acts as a prebiotic feeding good bacteria like bifidobacteria. In the same way that we need probiotic-rich foods to populate the gut with the “good” bacteria, we also need prebiotic-rich foods, like asparagus, that FEED the good bacteria.When you eat foods such as asparagus, that specifically nourish your helpful bacteria, the added bonus is that your good guys ‘crowd out’ the bad guys that produce beta-glucuronidase and ultimately cause estrogen to recirculate time and time again. Stopping estrogen recirculation begins on a gut level — and starts with the power of simple foods! A few other foods that are rich in inulin fiber are jerusalem artichokes, leeks, dandelion root, and chicory root.