Are you amongst the slightly confused, when it comes to hormonal health? Are you still wondering how to control your hormonal imbalance? The human body produces approximately 50 different hormones all working towards helping you maintain homeostasis. Hormones are best described as chemical messengers that travel around the bloodstream instructing tissues and organs on how to do their job.
Not only are hormones vital to your health and your well-being, but their job is also irreplaceable. When you produce either too much or too little of any given hormone, you experience what we call “hormonal imbalance”.
This imbalance doesn't need to be very severe in order to cause problems, as even small fluctuations in your hormone levels can end up having serious effects on your body.
Today, hormonal imbalance isn’t that rare of a thing. In fact, it has become a very common phenomenon due to the lifestyles and the environments of the 21st century. In addition to this, we are constantly trying to navigate a cosmetics market full of products that can also affect our natural hormonal balance and disrupt our hormonal health.
But, what are the signs of hormonal imbalance? And what can you do to avoid it?
What are Hormones?
In order to better understand the world of hormonal health, we will start off by taking a closer look at 8 of the most important hormones.
Parathyroid: To put it simply, the parathyroid hormone (also known as PTH) helps control the calcium and phosphorus levels in the blood. This regulation is particularly important to your bone health, as it sends out a signal when it’s time to produce calcium. PTH also affects the brain, which is why an imbalance can have a bad impact on your mood, your sleep, and your memory.
Leptin: This hormone has the difficult task of telling you when you have had enough to eat. Designed to help us regulate body weight, leptin affects your ability to both burn body fat and metabolizes it. Working to regulate your energy balance, while making sure that you don’t feel hunger unless your body needs fuel, leptin is often referred to as a hormone of satiety.
Thyroid hormones: Responsible for the function of every cell in your body, thyroid hormones are very essential, to say the least. They work to help your metabolism while ensuring that the temperature in your body remains stable. Changes in your thyroid hormones can affect important things like sleep, weight, and levels of energy. On the plus side, thyroid hormones are said to increase fat breakdown and reduce cholesterol levels.
Cortisol: This one you’ve probably heard of before. Cortisol is the main stress hormone that enables your body to handle stress of any kind. Whether it’s physical or mental stress, it will show in an over-production of this hormone. On the bright side, cortisol makes you alert, improves your ability to concentrate and increases your appetite. However, if the amount of cortisol produced is too high, it can lead to consequences such as insomnia, migraines and mood swings.
Insulin: Not only does insulin work to regulate metabolic processes, it also provides your cells with the energy that they need. This is the hormone that transports glucose from the blood into the muscles, fat and the liver. Ideally, the production and release of insulin is a tightly regulated process, so the body can satisfy its own metabolic needs.
Melatonin: Due to its powerful antioxidant effects, melatonin helps prevent diseases while adding goods to your overall health. This is also the hormone responsible for your circadian rhythm, which is better described as your sleep-and-wake-up cycle. If you suffer from a melatonin dysfunction, it can, therefore, result in things like insomnia, restlessness and general brain fog.
Estrogen: Estrogen is produced by both men and women, but as you probably already know, women produce more. Aside from having a huge impact on things like fertility, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause, it also protects the body against heart disease, strokes and osteoporosis. Some researchers even argue that it can help with certain memory disorders.
Testosterone: Best known as the manly hormone, testosterone is likewise produced by both women and men. This hormone affects everything from energy and strength to confidence, muscle mass, and sex drive.
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The Endocrine System
All hormones come from your body’s endocrine system. This is a system made up of different glands and cells that produce hormones and send them into your bloodstream. This is the brain’s way of telling your body what work to do and when to do it.
In a well functioning body, your system knows exactly how much of every hormone that needs to be produced for your body to work ideally.
However, when your body doesn’t respond to hormones in the right way, it can lead to a wide range of hormonal diseases. A prime example of this is diabetes. Patients suffering from this condition don’t process glucose in the way they’re supposed to. As this stems from errors in the endocrine system, diabetes can be categorized as an endocrine disease.
What is Hormonal Imbalance?
If your body is in perfect hormonal balance, it means its succeeding in producing the correct amounts of hormones needed. Because your brain speaks to the rest of your body via your hormones, it is only natural that your hormone levels go up and down depending on the signals that are being sent to - and from - your brain.
By being responsible for regulating most major bodily processes, hormones can affect a wide range of functions in the body. This includes everything from sleep cycles and appetite to mood, stress levels, and body temperature.
It's quite common to experience periods of hormonal imbalance during certain times of your life, however, if the imbalance starts to lead to other health symptoms, it might be worth having it checked out.
Symptoms of hormonal imbalance depend on the glands that are either over-producing or under-producing hormones. However, there are some symptoms that seem to be rather common.
- Trouble sleeping
- Problems with heart rate or blood pressure
- Sudden or unexplained weight loss/gain
- Weak or sore bones
- Fatigue and/or anxiety and depression
- Changes in body temperature or excessive sweating
- Problems with sex drive and/or fertility
- Bloating or changes in appetite
- Headaches and loss of hair
What can I do to Maintain a Good Hormonal Health?
Fortunately, there are several things that can be done if you find yourself in the situation, where your hormones seem to be out of balance.
First of all, a nutritious and healthy diet might be just that thing that gets you your balance back. There is, in fact, such a thing as a hormone-healing kitchen, and it is filled with nurturing plants, foods free from sugar and dairy and last but not least plenty of omega 3, vitamins and minerals.
Cooking in favor of your hormonal balance means focusing on the anti-inflammatory effects of foods while making sure that you get tons of proteins that are easy for your body to absorb and work with.
Secondly, learning to manage stress to an extent where it doesn’t have a bad influence on your health can be shown to be highly rewarding. When you’re constantly in alert mode, you tend to produce more cortisol and adrenaline that your body needs.
These elevated levels don't just affect your day-to-day anxiety and fragment your sleeping patterns, but can eventually lead to more serious things such as high blood pressure, increased heart rate, and even adrenal fatigue.
Whether it’s engaging in a session of meditation, or it’s going for a run when you feel like you don’t have the time, spending just 15 minutes a day putting in the effort to prevent increased stress levels can turn out to be a good investment for your future health.
Last, but by no means least, getting a good night’s sleep could be the thing to turn your imbalance around. This means getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night, preferably with as few interruptions as possible.
Sleep helps stabilize the body’s growth hormones and works to restore your system and thus your hormonal balance. In addition to this, bad sleep often makes our food habits worse, as we tend to crave sugar and unhealthy fats.
The list of things we can do to ensure good hormonal health continues to expand, and as is the case with so many other health matters, all we have to do is take that one first step and start paying attention to ourselves.
Maybe you’ll find that some of the things you’re struggling with are caused by a hormonal imbalance? Or maybe after reading here, you’ll want to ensure that your hormonal balance stays put? Either way, your body will thank you for your awareness - and so will your well-being. Just wait and see.