In our last blog, we talked about our bodies’ hormonal systems and what can happen when they’re out of balance. This week we’ll go deeper to understand why those imbalances happen in the first place.
It can be easier sometimes to learn to live with uncomfortable symptoms — they become your new normal. But to experience full health, it’s worth it to dig and find out what’s truly going on so you can begin to address it.
Hormone levels naturally change as we age. Our metabolism starts dropping as early as age 20!
Hormone levels that decline with age include estrogen, testosterone, growth hormone and melatonin. Hormones that increase include follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, norepinephrine, epinephrine, and parathyroid hormone. (Source)
So what does this mean for us? Lower levels of estrogen and testosterone may weaken bones and your sex drive, and furthermore, lower estrogen-to-testosterone ratios may trigger hair loss and heart disease. As the thyroid gland slows down, controlling metabolism, weight gain can happen and we can get cold easily. Cells become increasingly insensitive to insulin, which leads to rising blood sugar in the morning.
However,with proper nutrition, sleep, exercise, and stress reduction, hormone levels can be balanced out during the aging process to lessen these effects.
Diet and Nutrition
It is common knowledge that diet affects hormone levels when it comes to insulin and diabetes, but what you eat affects hormones way beyond that! This is because our gut microbiome regulates and produces hormones, basically acting as another endocrine organ.
“…the metabolic output of the gut microbiota gives it a reach well beyond the local GI compartment. Thus, considering the ability to influence the function of distal organs and systems, in many respects, the gut microbiota resembles an endocrine organ.” (Source)
It makes sense then, that what you eat directly affects hormone levels. There are many links between the gut’s microbial community and the development of obesity, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic syndromes such as thyroid diseases like Hashimoto’s. For example, there have been studies that show a gluten free diet benefits women with an autoimmune thyroid disease. (Source)
According to Dr. Mercola and Dr. Thierry Hertoghe, unsprouted grains, sugar or fructose, decrease 7 of the 12 most important hormones!
Never fear—we’ll talk about how you can alter your diet to balance your hormones in my next blog.
When you are under stress, your cortisol levels spike so your body can prepare to fight or run. However, our bodies can’t differentiate between non-life threatening stress and life threatening stress. So what happens is day-to-day stress from our careers, relationships, etc., trigger our hormonal stress responses so much that our cortisol is chronically high.
In fact, many of the weight loss resistant clients have high levels of stress related cortisol which packs on the belly fat. Reducing the stress in your life will help you to reduce your stress and therefore your belly fat. Interesting, huh?!
Chronically high cortisol leaves a slew of problems in its wake as well.
“Cortisol floods the system and total hormone production lags. This forces the body to steal from its own supplies of available progesterone, to make more cortisol, thus depleting this key balancing hormone with obvious implications for estrogen dominance. Prolonged stress tears up our bones, melts our muscles, robs us of strength and energy, lowers our libido and overwhelms our immunities, putting us at serious risk for chronic illness and autoimmune disease.” (Source)
We are exposed to toxic chemicals on a daily basis which can act as endocrine disruptors. Especially dangerous are the estrogen-mimicking hormones called xenoestrogens, that are similar to the estrogen found in our bodies. Since they act as natural hormones in our bodies, they can wreak developmental and reproductive havoc on our systems. In fact, most women are exposed to over 500 toxic chemicals in their beauty products as they get ready for work each morning.
We are exposed to xenoestrogens and other endocrine disruptors through BPAs in plastics, dairy and livestock which has been injected with growth hormones, food preservatives, high VOC paints, stains and sealants, poor indoor air quality as a result of insufficient ventilation and so much more.
Another way toxins build up is from years of eating too many carbohydrates and sugar which can lead to insulin block. Excessive heavy metals which are stored deep inside your organs and cells also interfere with the pituitary gland’s ability to produce hormones.
We do have a natural detoxifier, the liver, but if it’s constantly overloaded with toxins and excess hormones, they are forced to re-circulate throughout your bloodstream. When this happens, your hormone levels become imbalanced and seem to careen out of control.
Now that we understand more about the source of hormonal imbalances, we can begin to address these causes with natural and safe solutions—which is what we will talk about next week!