I think I found some information that could possibly be useful regarding your questions.
First I found the following conversation from a medical practioner named Chris Kresser.
He states this about the gut:
The second problem is HPA axis dysregulation, which is also referred to as adrenal fatigue syndrome. I think this and the next problem we’re going to talk about, the gut, are probably the two biggest issues with hormone imbalance. Pregnenolone is the mother of all hormones. It’s the precursor to all of the different adrenal and sex hormones that are produced in the body, and the enzyme that converts cholesterol into pregnenolone – so cholesterol is the precursor to pregnenolone, and that’s why cholesterol is so important in the body. We’ve talked about this before, and I don’t want to go too far down this tangent, but really low cholesterol can be a problem for hormones because, as I said, cholesterol is the precursor to pregnenolone, and pregnenolone is the mother of all hormones in the body.
The next area of focus is the gut, and again, this is right up there with the HPA axis in terms of its importance. Impaired gut function can mess with hormones in several different ways, so if you have a parasite or a fungal overgrowth or dysbiosis or leaky gut, that causes inflammation. Inflammation suppresses the function of the hypothalamus and the pituitary in the brain, which produce the stimulating hormones, and then it also suppresses the function of the adrenals and the ovaries and the gonads in men that produce the actual hormones. Inflammatory cytokines can also cause hormone resistance, which we talked about just now, where the levels of hormones may be fine but the receptors on the cells aren’t sensitive to those hormones, so you end up getting the same symptoms.
Furthermore, he states this about cortisol.
Anyway, the enzyme that converts cholesterol to pregnenolone is limited, and it requires a lot of ATP, which is cellular energy. It’s an energy-intensive process. That means that the amount of pregnenolone we can make in the body is limited, and there’s something called the pregnenolone steal that I’m sure many of you have heard of, which describes a process where the majority of the pregnenolone that we produce on a daily basis is channeled into cortisol production, and this happens when we’re under a lot of stress because cortisol is one of the hormones that’s involved in the stress response. So if you’re not sleeping well, you’re not managing your stress, you’ve got a lot of stuff going on in your life, and/or you have gut infections or you’re eating a poor diet or you’re dealing with any kind of chronic illness/injury/pain problem, that’s going to create a stress response in the body, and that in turn will divert pregnenolone into that cortisol pathway, and it takes it away from the DHEA pathway, and the DHEA pathway, if you go down that road, that’s where estrogen and testosterone are produced. So if you have low DHEA levels on a lab, that’s often a sign of pregnenolone steal, and getting back to the replacement model, if you just give that patient more pregnenolone, it can actually make things worse because it just channels more raw material into that cortisol pathway.
So basically, impaired gut function can cause inflammation and stress, which then causes HPA dysfunction, or also known as adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue then causes cortisol imbalance.
I believe that the vast majority of us suffer from adrenal fatigue - we share the symptoms. If you google the diet protocol for adrenal fatigue, we can see that it’s similar to the diet protocol of successful recovery stories here.
Also, some users here have reported that they have candida overgrowth. Candida overgrowth can occur from the disruption of the microbiome, as stated above. If you search the web for the anti-candida diet, you can see that it is almost identical to the diet for adrenal fatigue. It is also said that candida overgrowth can also cause adrenal fatigue and vice versa.
Furthermore, I found this website where they discuss in detail how imbalanced cortisol level can affect our body:
Imbalanced cortisol levels can lead to a great variety of health problems, including:
Increased anxiety, depression, mood swings and irritability–because, instead of using glucose for fuel, with enough stress the body will start to use amino acids (from protein) which makes amino acids less available to make our brain chemicals or neurotransmitters
Increased “leaky gut” –because depletion of amino acids in the gut, especially glutamine, breaks down the gut wall lining leaving us more vulnerable to food sensitivities and poor absorption of our food, depletion of vitamins and minerals like magnesium, zinc and carnitine
Increased insulin resistance and predisposition to pre-diabetes
Increased fat storage of the excess glucose
Inhibited vitamin D activity, which prevents calcium absorption, leading to increased breakdown of bones (osteopenia and osteoporosis)
Altered thyroid function–inhibition of the conversion of thyroid hormone T4 to its active form T3
Thus, imbalanced cortisol levels inhibits vitamin d activity, and also causes the body to deplete amino acids! And imbalanced cortisol levels are caused by adrenal fatigue, which can be caused by impaired gut function. It seems it all leads to the gut again.
If you look at the post by Headsup, a lot of this was already included in his theory. He even went into detail about how he thinks inhibiting 5AR caused all this. In my opinion, he was on the right track and seriously onto something.