Digestion, Sleep & Hormones Link

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Digestion, sleep, and hormones are three important biological processes that are essential for our bodies to function properly. Digestion helps our bodies break down food into smaller molecules that can ultimately be absorbed and used for energy and growth. Sleep is a period of rest and rejuvenation for our bodies and minds, and hormones are chemical messengers that regulate many of our body’s functions. Each of these processes is essential for our health and well-being, and understanding how they work together can help us to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Digestion happens in stages and in several organs, including the stomach and small and large intestines. The stomach breaks down food using digestive enzymes and acids, while the small intestine absorbs the nutrients from the food. The large intestine absorbs water and electrolytes, and the waste products are eliminated through the rectum. Eating a healthy diet with fiber, protein, and healthy fats is essential for proper digestion.

Sleep is a period of rest and rejuvenation for our bodies and minds. During sleep, our bodies repair and regenerate cells, and our brains process and consolidate memories. Adequate sleep is essential for proper functioning, and it is recommended that adults get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Poor sleep can lead to fatigue, poor concentration, and an increased risk of health problems.

Hormones are chemical messengers that regulate many of our body’s functions. They are produced by the endocrine glands and released into the bloodstream to reach organs and tissues. Hormones help to regulate our metabolism, growth, reproduction, and mood. Imbalances in hormone levels can result in health problems, such as obesity, infertility, and depression.

Digestion, sleep, and hormones are all essential for our health and well-being. Eating a balanced diet, getting adequate sleep, and maintaining proper hormone levels are all important for maintaining good health. Understanding how these processes work together can help us to make informed decisions about our lifestyle and health.

Here we discuss this topic with Dr. Carina Grewelling, a naturopath and traditional Chinese medicine expert who also uses Ayurveda.

NourishDoc: Hello, everyone, and I am Amita from NourishDoc, a platform for natural and holistic therapies. Every day we bring you natural topics on the way to live a healthy life naturally, so today’s topic is actually on digestion, sleep, and hormones; so joining me is Dr. Carina she’s joining me from Spain, and she will be telling us what the issues are with digestion sleep and hormones I know that I can sleep at night; there you are hello how are you, Dr. Carina? All right, so we will be talking about how digestion, hormones, and sleep are interconnected. So I think all of us, when we eat a little bit heavy, have a problem sleeping at night I know I do, so that’s why we are talking with Dr. Carina Grewelling, a naturopath and traditional Chinese medicine expert, as well as she, uses Ayurveda. She’s joining us live from Germany and welcomes Dr. Carina.

Dr. Carina: Hello, I joined your live from Barcelona, but it makes no difference. I’m German and thank you so much for inviting me it’s a pleasure to be there.

Is there a link between hormones & our digestive system?

NourishDoc: Thank you. So let’s talk about people joining from all over the world, so someone who joined, I think from India. Then someone else joined from Germany, so welcome to everyone. Hence, if there are any questions, you’re welcome to put them in the comment window. I know people send me a request to join the webinar; I’m sorry we’ll make the comments. All right, what is the correlation between the hormones and the digestive system Dr. Carina?

Dr. Carina: Experts are starting to understand this powerful connection and what it means for the digestive system. So the gut is the body’s largest hormone-producing organ, so it releases more than 20 different hormones, and if the bacteria, so the bacteria in your gut play a significant role in our hormones, if you have good bacteria, then you can metabolize and recycle hormones in your body but when the gut isn’t healthy. Then hormones can become imbalanced, and let’s take two examples. So let’s take two examples to explain the connection between the digestive system and the hormones; many people today are dealing with low stomach acid and experience symptoms like heartburn or undigested food in their stool. So your stomach acid helps to digest proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, and the process of breaking down these macronutrients makes the micronutrients available for hormone production.

But many nutrients are essential for healthy hormones, for example, magnesium, vitamins magnesium, zinc, and many others; if you aren’t digesting hormones if you aren’t digesting correctly when you are not breaking down the food well then you might have problems absorbing the nutrition from your food, and then you can experience hormonal imbalances.

NourishDoc: I see. Okay, so there’s a real connection between digestion, like you said, the low stomach acid. If you’re not digesting the food properly and the hormone imbalance will happen now, let’s talk about sleep. So everything is all connected I sleep hormones and digestion, so how does sleep come into play?

How Sleep Affects Hormones Balance

Dr. Carina: Yeah, for example, let’s say many people today are suffering from sleeping disorders or have an insufficient sleep, so I know, and if you have insufficient sleep over a long term, then it can contribute to severe health conditions. When you take, for example, melatonin, it controls your sleeping patterns; it’s a sleep-inducing hormone, and the levels generally increase at night time, and it makes you feel sleepy. When you are sleeping, other hormones are released, like the growth hormone, which helps, for example, your body to grow and to repair itself. So if you are not sleeping correctly, then you can’t take part anymore; let’s take, for example, cortisol; cortisol is a stress hormone, and so if you don’t sleep properly, your hormone levels can’t decrease so that the cortisol will stay high, it can lead to other imbalances in the body, so sleep is super essential for hormonal balance or let’s take for example menopause, women that experience menopause problems it often shows because estrogen drops during menopause and then it can lead to hot flashes to sweats to anxiety to mood disorder and then you have a difficult time to fall asleep or to sleep at all and then your body is missing that restorative sleep it can then even lead to more hormonal imbalances. So sleep, hormonal balance, and digestive health are very connected.

NourishDoc: Got it. So I hope our viewers understand the correlation; it’s essential, guys, we are trying to understand digestion; the key is the digestion; you need to make sure your digestion is good, and that’s what she’s trying to make us all understand how the lower digestion or bad digestion can create a hormonal imbalance and then the cortisol and the melatonin. So what is the hormone you said in the stomach that goes out of whack if we don’t have proper digestion?

Dr. Carina: So when you have, for example, when you have low acid, then it can influence your hormone, the gastrin hormone, it’s in English called the gastric hormone, but if you are very interested in what other hormones are impacted by the digestive health we can also talk about thyroid hormones about the sex hormones like progesterone, estrogen also the stress hormone like cortisol, it’s if you want let’s talk about the thyroid hormone because I’m so many people are having problems with that. So, for example, when you have low microbial diversity, this means when you don’t have enough different types of gut bacteria, this has also been linked with high thyroid sternal lighting hormones.

So when you have too much TSH in your body, this can cause lower levels of thyroid hormones. If you don’t have T3 and T4, these are the thyroid hormones; then it can lead to an under the function of the thyroid, also called hypothyroidism; in the other way around, if you have imbalanced gut bacteria, this can also lead to that you have too little TSH. If you have too little TSH, you can have too much of t3 and t4, which can also lead. Some women experience a rapid heart rate, but also they have to go to the toilet very often. In contrast, for example, with hypothyroidism, they are more constipated. In hypothyroidism, they have an increased bowel movement; irregular menstrual cycles are also good T3 and t4, so we constantly work on the gut.

NourishDoc: Got it. So to summarize, guys, what we are talking about is the hormone imbalance; how does it occur? So Dr. Carina is explaining to us how digestion how the gut if it is not if we don’t digest our food, probably in straightforward English that can affect our sleep, the hormone that affects our sleep that can also affect our TSH, that’s what you were talking about the stimulating thyroid hormone. Hence, it’s essential to have good digestion so that our hormonal balance is in place and we can sleep better. We can also have a thyroid balance. Let’s talk about how you are a naturopathy doctor; you also use Ayurveda and acupuncture in Chinese medicine, combining everything. So give us some tips to tell all of us what to do and what to start with, and this is not medical advice; this is just general information for the public that we would like to hear.

How Lifestyle Habits Impact Sleep Routines

Dr. Carina: Okay. So when a client comes to see me and they bring these problems with them that I always talk take a look at the habits my clients have so at what time do they go to bed, when what and how do they eat, do they have healthy relationships are they exercising and resting regularly, I look to try to look at their life, in general, to see what their daily habits are. Then I always, for example, when I work with Chinese medicine, I check on their tongue and their pulse because it also gives me some information, so it’s pretty complex. In my practice, I work with acupuncture with herbs and when they are suffering, such as high-stress levels or anxiety or other imbalances, and with stress techniques with yoga postures. So it depends from person to person because some people, for example, sleep very well. However, the digestion is kind of off; other people have many sleeping problems, so it depends. But for example, if people go too late to bed at night, this significantly impacts the hormones, and sometimes when they go to bed earlier, for example, by 10 pm. They bring their hormones back into balance by doing that from person to person. But it’s essential that we all have a certain rhythm that nature gives us and learn to live in balance. If we don’t do that, problems occur, which differ from person to person.

The impact of sleep on health has been getting more attention from health experts who are realizing that sleep is an active and dynamic state. While you sleep, the glymphatic system opens up between the brain cells and flushes out toxic molecules involved in neurodegenerative disorders.

If you don’t get quality sleep, you can take several steps to improve your sleep. Sleep hygiene is all about building several healthy habits that help you get a good night’s sleep.

NourishDoc: Okay, so let me summarize; so Dr. Carina is talking about when you have any problem, follow the circadian rhythm; Ayurveda talks about the circadian rhythm what that means is when it’s daylight stay awake when it’s nighttime to go to bed, straightforward don’t become an owl, put that and if you have a problem then a lot of things that she will do check your tongue we did a whole section on a tongue analysis or tongue diagnosis a huge big video on the tongue so make sure your tongue is clean and what else the pulse diagnosis. So what can we do like daily sleeping is one thing, the digestion part so makes sure I think we eat correctly that is the main thing what you’re saying like eat on time and eat healing foods that will help us digest better, is that what would be the starting point on a very general level?

Dr. Carina: Yes. So it depends on where the problems lie, where the digestion lies like freshly cooked foods are essential, but for example, not to snack in between meals. However, it depends on your like when you talk about Ayurveda, it depends on your unique constitution, what is good for you and what is not suitable for you, you need to find that out, and this is also the reason for example, why I developed a 12 months online course where people learn ten different habits how to organize their life in a way and to get to know everything about their unique constitution so that they know exactly what is good for me what you do what shouldn’t I do what can I eat because like foods that are good for you might be very bad for me.

NourishDoc: Correct, and Ayurveda talks about the personalized constitution of vata, pitta, and Kapha; we’ve done many webinars on that. I think it’s essential that she emphasizes understanding our body and our constitution. I think we’ve talked about that many times, and there are many other things available, like DNA testing; that’s why functional medicine people do a lab test and then, but I think in Ayurveda, the thing is lab testing DNA testing is pretty good. However, Ayurveda, I like that it also tests your mental level, which others like if you do scientific, which is excellent. However, they don’t test your mental level and how your emotions are how your mental levels are. So that’s what I think Dr. Carina is saying know yourself, know your body first, and then understand what foods are good for you, what is, and then act accordingly; that’s what I’m trying to repeat and summarize.

Bringing Your Body In Balance

Dr. Carina: Yeah, because the thing is like if I give general advice what to eat when and how many times, this depends from person to person so if I tell you, for example, it’s good to have three meals per day for you but for another person, for example, vata, you take a person four meals per day needs, whereas Kapha needs two meals per day. So what is essential is that you work with someone who tries food to help you understand what you can do to bring your body back into balance and breathing exercises; there are so many things, so many tools we can use.

NourishDoc: Got it. Well, thank you so much, Dr. Carina; I think to summarize what we are trying to say is that digestion is essential; any imbalance if you’re not digesting your food properly that’s going to cause hormonal imbalance, and once you have a different type of imbalanced hormones you can have a thyroid problem like she said the TSH hormone you can have cortisol hormone that can go up then that can get lead to the stress. The melatonin hormone could go in balance. You can have problems with your sleep. So that’s why sleep, digestion, hormones, everything is interconnected; how do you fix your digestion? That’s what she’s talking about know your body first, know what your body composition is, who you are like, you look different, I look different; nobody else looks like me; the same thing is true for your body, your body is different in the problems we can’t see it but know your body by understanding your from an ayurvedic perspective what your dosha is, dosha is vata, pitta, Kapha and the beauties will also talk about your mental mind body and soul and tell you what is it that how you should put your package together, what to eat what kind of yoga pranayama and what you should do that’s the essence of that right? Dr. Carina, did I summarize it adequately? Okay, well, thank you so much for being with us for to all the viewers; let us know if there are any questions; we are doing these mini sessions every day to educate the general public about the importance of natural health and how you can take care of yourself by following simple steps and educating people how simple things like if the digestion is not good can impact your entire overall health. Thank you so much, Dr. Carina, for being with us.

Dr. Carina: Thank you so much for inviting me.


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