The Importance of Balancing your Hormones
New research is constantly emerging on what is the Cause of many of our health problems today but there is a common underlying theme. HORMONES !
Hormones contribute to issues such as weight fluctuations, bloating and other health symptoms throughout the course of a month.
They control our Bone Density, Muscle Mass, Growth, Ovulation, Reproduction
, and MUCH MORE...
SO... JUST WHAT ARE HORMONES??
The Endocrine System
The best way to answer the question "what are hormones?" is to take a look at some of the major hormonal systems in the body. Hormones are created by glands, which are part of the endocrine system. The main hormone-producing glands are:
- Hypothalamus: The hypothalamus is responsible for body temperature, hunger, moods and the release of hormones from other glands; and also controls thirst, sleep and sex drive.
- Parathyroid: This gland controls the amount of calcium in the body.
- Thymus: This gland plays a role in the function of the adaptive immune system and the maturity of the thymus, and produces T-cells.
- Pancreas: This gland produces the insulin that helps control blood sugar levels.
- Thyroid: The thyroid produces hormones associated with calorie burning and heart rate.
- Adrenal: Adrenal glands produce the hormones that control sex drive and cortisol, the stress hormone.
- Pituitary: Considered the "master control gland," the pituitary gland controls other glands and makes the hormones that trigger growth.
- Pineal: Also called the thalamus, this gland produces serotonin derivatives of melatonin, which affects sleep.
- Ovaries: Only in women, the ovaries secrete estrogen, testosterone and progesterone, the female sex hormones.
- Testes: Only in men, the testes produce the male sex hormone, testosterone, and produce sperm.
These glands work together to create and manage the body's major hormones.
Major Types of Hormones
What do hormones do, exactly? The body has many different hormones, but certain types have a bigger role to play in the body's health and well-being. Understanding these roles is important for those looking to protect and manage their health.
For women, estrogen (or estradiol) is the main sex hormone. It causes puberty, prepares the body and uterus for pregnancy, and regulates the menstrual cycle. During menopause, estrogen level changes cause many of the uncomfortable symptoms women experience.
Progesterone is similar to estrogen but is not considered the main sex hormone. Like estrogen, it assists with the menstrual cycle and plays a role in pregnancy.
Cortisol has been called the "stress hormone" because of the way it assists the body in responding to stress. This is just one of several functions of this important hormone.
Melatonin levels change throughout the day, increasing after dark to trigger the responses that cause sleep.
Testosterone is the main sex hormone in men. It causes puberty, increases bone density, triggers facial hair growth, and causes muscle mass growth and strength.
When they are in proper balance, hormones help the body thrive, but small problems with hormones can cause serious and life-altering symptoms. If you have concerns about any of your hormones, talk to a qualified endocrinologist.
It’s all About the Hormones
I’ve heard so many cases lately of people who have improved diet, started exercising, etc but are still not losing weight or improving health markers. After talking to many of these people, it seems that the factor they all have in common is an underlying problem with hormone balance.
Leptin and thyroid hormones are just a small piece in the complicated hormone system in the body. In a given day or month, a woman’s body will have fluctuations in hormones like estrogen, progesterone, cortisol, lutenizing hormone, prolactin, oxytocin, leptin, ghrelin, thyroid hormones, melatonin, serotonin and others.These factors have a tremendous impact on your hormones:
- Diet (eat plenty of "live" fruits and veggies, whole and sprouted grains and legumes)
- Sleep (get 8 hrs of un-interrupted sleep nightly)
- Stress (learn to relax and meditate. Learn to forgive and let go of "drama")
- Exercise (walking, swimming and rebounding are excellent because they keep the lymph moving and are easy on the body)
- Exposure to toxins (use natural cleaning products and cosmetics as much as possbile and drink purified water) We use a Berkey filtration system that gives us 99.999% pure water.
- pregnancy or nursing
- limit caffeine
- Though there is no single symptom that is a definitive sign of a hormone imbalance, factors that often indicate a hormone problem include:
- sleep troubles
- persistent weight gain or inability to lose weight
- being hot or cold often
- digestive problems
- low libido
- depression or anxiety
- mood swings
- hair loss
What to Do About It?
For those with hormone problems, there are some important dietary and lifestyle factors that can help nourish the body so it can recover. For these people, things like fad dieting, extreme exercise or stress will only make the problem worse and it is more important to carefully support the body’s hormone system.
This is best accomplished by first improving factors like eating whole raw fruits and veggies, sleep and stress as well as nourishing (rather than depriving) the body.
"Statistically, many people use hormonal contraceptives to help ‘balance hormones’ or prevent acne, etc. The problem is that this is just treating the symptoms and not addressing the root cause. The body naturally moves toward balance so if hormones are out of whack, it is not from a contraceptive deficiency, but rather that the body is not producing the natural hormones optimally."
Get Some Sleep!
While you are sleeping, your body is extremely active removing toxins, recharging the mind, and creating hormones. Skimping on sleep, even for one night, can have a tremendous impact on hormones and even one night of missed or shortened sleep can cause hormone imbalances.
A daily (and nightly) routine can make a big difference in how easily you fall and stay asleep. You’ll have to experiment to find out what works best for you but here are some helpful suggestions:
- Wake up and go to bed at the same time, even on weekends to keep your hormone cycle regular.
- Eat a high protein/high fat snack a few hours before bed (7pm or earlier) or consume a lot at dinner.
- Avoid caffeine after 1 pm.
- Install F.lux (it is free) on all computers and devices to reduce blue light and help you sleep better (it is also easier on the eyes!)
- Drink enough water during the day and stop drinking about 2 hours before bed so you don’t have to wake up to use the bathroom.
- Take a soothing salt bath about an hour before bed with some relaxing music or a great book.
- Get at least 30 minutes of sunlight each day (even if you aren’t trying to get your vitamin D). The exposure to the wide-spectrum light during the day boosts serotonin levels, which will help improve melatonin levels at night
- Avoid artificial light as much as possible after the sun goes down.
- Pray, meditate or find a way to reduce stress.
- Try Essential Oils that help with sleep such as Lavender, Chamomile, and Yland Ylang.
- Massage tense muscles before bed to release stress and help relax
- Stretch before bed to relax muscles.
Eat Some (Healthy) Fat
Fats, especially saturated fats, are vital for hormone health as the body uses fats as building blocks for hormones. As this article explains:
“When these important saturated fatty acids are not readily available, certain growth factors in the cells and organs will not be properly aligned. This is because the various receptors, such as G-protein receptors, need to be coupled with lipids in order to provide localization of function.
The messages that are sent from the outside of the cell to the inner part of the cell control many functions including those activated by, for example, adrenaline in the primitive mammalian fight/flight reactions. When the adrenal gland produces adrenaline and the adrenaline (beta-adrenergic) receptor communicates with the G-protein and its signal cascade, the parts of the body are alerted to the need for action; the heart beats faster, the blood flow to the gut decreases while the blood flow to the muscles increases and the production of glucose is stimulated.
The G-proteins come in different forms; the alpha subunit is covalently linked to myristic acid and the function of this subunit is important for turning on and off the binding to an enzyme called adenylate cyclase and thus the amplification of important hormone signals.
When researchers looked at the fatty acid composition of the phospholipids in the T-cells (white blood cells), from both young and old donors, they found that a loss of saturated fatty acids in the lymphocytes was responsible for age-related declines in white blood cell function. They found that they could correct cellular deficiencies in palmitic acid and myristic acid by adding these saturated fatty acids.”
Coconut Oil is amazing for hormone health. It provides the necessary building blocks for hormone production, can assist weight loss, reduce inflammation, and even has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties.
If you really need hormone help, aim to consume 1/8 cup of added coconut oil a day.
“In a perfect world, we would be rising and sleeping with the sun, getting Vitamin D from the sun and Magnesium from the ocean while relaxing and exercising in great balance each day in a stress-free world. Since I doubt that describes many of us currently, supplements can fill in the gaps.
Here are some specific ones that are helpful for hormone support.
- Maca– A tuber in the radish family that has a history of boosting hormone production and libido. Many women notice less PMS, increased fertility, and improved skin while men notice increased sperm production, libido and better sleep. Maca is also high in minerals and essential fatty acids, making it great for hormones. It is available in powder form (least expensive option) or in capsules. Maca should be discontinued during pregnancy. The effects of Maca are somewhat cumulative, so the best results are seen after 3-5 weeks of taking Maca regularly.
- Magnesium– Magnesium supports hundreds of reactions in the body and often contributes to better sleep (which is great for hormones!). There are several effective forms of Magnesium: In powder form with a product like Natural Calm so that you can vary your dose and work up slowly, ionic liquid form can be added to food and drinks and dose can be worked up slowly,or transdermal form by using Magnesium oil applied to skin. This is often the most effective option for those with damaged digestive tract or severe deficiency. Magnesium often greatly helps both PMS symptoms and menstrual cramping.
- Vitamin D– A pre-hormone is supportive of hormone function. Best obtained from the sun if possible, or from a D3 supplement or Fermented Cod Liver Oil (what I do in the winter). Make sure not to get too much, and optimally, get Serum Vitamin D levels checked to monitor levels.
- Fermented Cod Liver Oil– Provides many of the necessary building blocks for hormone production including Vitamins A, D, and K. It also is a great source of Omega-3s and beneficial fats.
- Gelatin is a great source of calcium, magnesium and phosphate. It supports hormone production and digestive health and helps sooth inflammation, especially in joints.
- Chaste Tree Berry - Nourishes the pituitary gland and helps lengthen the luteal phase. It lowers prolactin and raises progesterone. For some women, this alone will improve symptoms.
- Red Raspberry Leaf– A well know fertility herb that is also helpful in reducing PMS and cramping. It has a high nutrient profile and is especially high in calcium and is a uterine tonic. It is available in capsule form, but makes an excellent hot or cold tea.
NOTE: This article and it's statements do not make any claim to diagnose, treat or cure any illnesses. Make sure to check with your doctor or health care professional before taking any new supplements or changing your diet, especially if you are on medications or contraceptives.
Information taken from the following sites: