If you have found yourself walking into a room only to ask yourself, ” what did I come in here for?” or perhaps you find that pounds upon pounds have piled up on you, and you are not very successful in shedding them off in spite of doing all the right things, or maybe, you find yourself tossing and turning when you go to bed, or even maybe, you are just a tad bit more snappy, moody, irritable-and who wouldnt be if they cant sleep well, and/or are weighed down by bloat and other uncomfortable bodily issues? Just maybe, you are suffering from hormonal imbalance.
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In this modern world-a world that is too fast paced and therefore brings on too much stress, a world where food comes in packages, things pass for food that really shouldn’t have that name, and countless hours are whiled away gazing at tiny screens, and indoors many health issues are becoming the norm, sadly to say.
One such health issue is a hormonal imbalance, a condition that many suffer from and some may not even be aware of. Sometimes we take it as just the normal course of aging, or the condition of being female. But we don’t have to do that. We can fight hormonal imbalance. And science is proving we can succeed. We can have some wins.
Perhaps, ladies, we don’t have to suffer so very much. Maybe those PMS episodes don’t have to be so horrid, and those hot flushes can be minimized or avoided.
During one’s lifetime, hormonal fluctuations can be expected, during such times as puberty, pregnancy, and menstruation, and during perimenopause and menopause.
Still, there are times when hormonal balance can be tipped over by various other causes other than these naturally expected parts of being female, growth, development, and aging.
But first, what are Hormones?
Hormones are chemical messengers produced by the various endocrine organs/glands in the body or the endocrine system.
Some hormones are produced by other tissues that normally are not classified as endocrine glands such as the GI tract and the GI Mucosa which produces hormones such as gastrin, gastrone, secretin, cholecystokinin, that are important for digestion. The Kidneys also has an endocrine role as they produce erythropoietin, a hormone important for producing blood cells.
Hormones are produced in the endocrine glands and each hormone has a certain job to do
Hormones also work in concert with the nervous system and drive the function of cells and organs in the body.
The brain endocrine communication regulates mood, stress levels and responses, energy, and metabolism as well as energy balance, influencing weight and even sex drive. There are many hormones which also work in concert with each other. That orchestrated action can sometimes cause complications when one hormone imbalance affects other hormones, organs and cell function. Then a cascade of events is initiated when one hormone getting out of whack.
When the choreography of this orchestrated hormonal relationships gets messed up, and some hormones run amok while others fall off the rails, a hormonal imbalance state then exists. This, in turn, causes metabolic dysfunction and other health problems.
There are many causes of hormonal imbalance, some due to the natural processes of growing, becoming and changing at various stages of life. However, some imbalance is due to lifestyle choices, and at times due to other medical issues, procedures or medications. Some medical conditions such as PCOS, or cancer, can cause hormonal imbalances but then these conditions can also be caused by hormonal imbalance. It is the case of the chicken and the egg, which came first?
So, what are some causes for these hormonal imbalances?
We live in a toxic world where xenoestrogens are everywhere around us, from the feed of the animals that provide us meat, the dairy cows and chickens grown with growth hormones, GMO plants, household cleaners that are toxic, our personal care products, our use of plastics to store and heat food, drinking bottles, Nail polish and polish removers all increasing our total toxic burden.
Women these days are especially likely to have elevated stress levels. This can lead to hormonal imbalances. Women try to do it all leading to the skyrocketing stress hormone, cortisol, which disrupts other hormones, such as progesterone, causing irregular periods, mood swings, sleep disturbances, fatigue, anxiety, and depression, even more, Stress, and weight gain.
Other lifestyle factors that can influence hormone balance include food choices. Is one eating organic pesticide-free foods? Are we eating foods high in simple sugars, GMO foods, foods high in the wrong kind of fats? How much sleep, and when do they sleep, and do we exercise and how much? Too much or too little or none at all can impact hormonal health.
Excess exercise can cause increased stress hormone, cortisol. While exercise is good, extreme exercise is not, especially when nutrition is not sufficient, then one can lose too much weight and this leads to decreased sex hormones (androgens). Sex hormones such as testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen hormones require some fat to be produced. They are steroids and their synthesis requires the presence of cholesterol. So it is important to exercise in moderation, and not go to either extreme so as to have hormonal balance.
Adrenal take over
This can happen sometimes especially in midlife leading to increased cortisol and low progesterone accompanied by estrogen dominance. This, in turn, leads to low energy, low libido, low immunity, as well as muscle weakness, sleep disturbances, and a rollercoaster of symptoms including mood swings.
Gut health Issues
Problems with gut health including leaky gut and a poor state of beneficial bacteria in the gut can lead to inflammation response. This is sometimes also due to excessive stress. Sometimes these gut issues can contribute to food allergies and inflammation causing systemic effects including hormonal imbalances. Also, keep in mind that current research is showing that there is a connection between our guts and our mental health.
Furthermore, the GI tract sometimes also acts as an adrenal organ producing hormones such as Grhelin, and as part of the nervous system producing serotonin, that all-important neurotransmitter that provides a tranquil mental state. Using products that promote gut health such as yogurt, kefir, and probiotics such as Ultimate Flora, or digestive enzymes such papaya enzymes can help keep your gut happy and your hormones balanced.
Hormonal Replacement Therapy-HRT
This was all the rage a few years ago and lead to hormonal progesterone estrogen imbalances. While HRT may still be the way to go sometimes, with doctors advice, I believe most practitioners now are more cautious and more informed of the dangers HRT can cause. Too much estrogen without progesterone caused more problems especially breast cancer.
Look into natural methods and lifestyle changes to keep your hormones balanced. And remember always consult your doctor before starting any regimen even if it is natural herbal or plant-based. Some of the most potent medicines are plant-based.
Signs of hormonal imbalance:
There are many signs of hormonal imbalance. Sometimes it is difficult to pinpoint the problems because there can be many causes of symptoms and some signs and symptoms of different imbalances are the same. For example, weight gain can be caused by insulin resistance, hypothyroidism, cortisone imbalance, increased estrogen or too much ghrelin, while symptoms such as mood swings and depression and anxiety/ irritability can be caused by high thyroid, or hyperthyroidism, low estrogen, high cortisol, diabetes, or low vitamin D which can also affect mood.
Signs and symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance
1. Fatigue, a foggy mind
2. Mood swings, depression, anxiety, and restlessness
3. Sleep disturbances
4. Low libido, virginal dryness
5. Gastrointestinal problems; Diarrhea, bloating, constipation
6. Weight changes
7. Dry skin
8. Thinning hair and hair loss, or hair on the face
10. Irregular periods, heavy periods, Amenorrhea(lack of periods not related to menopause), PMS, infertility, miscarriages, and cramps
Some Hormone functions and specific signs of Imbalance
The adrenal glands produce epinephrine and norepinephrine, within the inner section called the medulla, while the cortex produces more than 30 hormones but the main ones are mineral corticoid, glucocorticoids, and androgens and all these hormones are steroids.
The adrenal glucocorticoids are responsible for stress response and are necessary for survival. Without cortisol, one cannot survive. Cortisol regulates metabolism and controls the inflammatory response. If there is too much cortisol it stimulates the production of glucose by the liver, and promotes protein breakdown, and increases mobilization of fatty acids, which are used for energy instead of glucose. Then the use, of peripheral glucose falls, and glucose levels rise leading to insulin insensitivity.
Immunity is also affected when a reduced inflammatory response function is induced, and if this scenario goes on for a long time, adrenal insufficiency can occur.
Another form of adrenal malfunction is called Cushing’s Syndrome which results from excess glucocorticoids. This can occur due to a pituitary tumor. Or adrenal tumor or from the administration of steroid drugs.
Signs and symptoms of Cushing’s or elevated cortisol levels
- Altered fat metabolism with fat deposition on the shoulders causing a hump
- muscle wasting,
- muscle weakness in the hands and legs
- Thin skin, stretch marks over the stomach,
- brittle bones compression fractures, and osteoporosis,
- excess potassium excretion and sodium retention leading to hypertension
- to infections,
- gastric ulcers,
- hirsutism,*(Hair on the face) acne,
- menstrual irregularities,
- excess emotional instability including psychosis.
- And stress, or impaired ability to respond to stress
Thyroid hormones are produced in the thyroid gland, a butterfly structure located in the lower neck. The thyroid gland produces three hormones: Thyroxine(T4), Triiodothyronine(T3), and Calcitonin.
Thyroid hormones control all cellular metabolic activity with T4, maintaining a regular steady metabolic activity. T3 is about 5 times as potent as T4 and performs more rapid metabolic work. These hormones increase all body processes that require oxygen consumption and alter the tissue responsiveness to other hormones. So pretty important.
They influence cell replication, brain development, and normal growth, metabolism, protein synthesis, and influence every major organ system.
The Thyroid hormones secretion is controlled by TSH from the pituitary gland, which controls the rate of thyroid hormone release.
A Malfunction in thyroid production or improper stimulation from the pituitary can cause a thyroid imbalance in the form of either too little or too much as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism respectively, and the signs and symptoms of either are unpleasant and a health problem.
This can happen on a spectrum from mild to extreme. The mild form is uncomfortable with constipation, cold intolerance, weight gain, sluggishness, coarse hair and dry skin, but can also include myxedema coma a systemic fluid overload that can lead to death.
The most common cause of hypothyroidism is autoimmune known as Hashimoto Thyroiditis. Hypothyroidism can also be due to treatment with radioiodine to treat hyperthyroidism. Or due to surgical removal, or radiation therapy for head or neck cancer.
Signs and symptoms shown are due to a slowing of the metabolic functions.
- Muscle aches. These symptoms can easily be mistaken for other causes
- Loss of libido amenorrhea
- pleural, and pericardial effusions–fluid in the lungs and heart
- Hair loss, brittle nails, dry skin
- numbness and tingling in fingers and nerve entrapment syndrome( Carpal Tunnel)
- Slow speech, subdued emotion response
- cold intolerance, thick skin,
- abnormal breathing
- weight gain,
- thinning hair, alopecia,
- swollen eyelids, pitting edema, – a puffy appearance due to fluid accumulation to the face.
- bradycardia, hypotension,
- lethargy, and
- Cardiovascular collapse and shock can occur in extreme cases
- In advanced stages, personality changes can occur including cognitive changes, like dementia
- sleep apnea
- elevated cholesterol
Hyperthyroidism is second most prevalent endocrine disorder after diabetes and occurs due to the overproduction of T4 and T3 from the thyroid gland. This overproduction leads to an elevated metabolic rate. This leads in turn to many symptoms some due to elevated catecholamines(epinephrine and norepinephrine) Oversecretion also leads to an enlarged thyroid gland and a goiter.
Graves disease is the major cause of hyperthyroidism. It is an autoimmune disease due to antibodies bidding to TSH which leads to increased production of T3 and T4.
Another cause is inflammation of the thyroid or Thyroiditis, thyroid nodules, or synthetic thyroid medication.
Typical hyperthyroidism signs are due to the hypermetabolic state. Everything just runs fast and high with the basal metabolic rate sometimes increasing 60-100% above normal.
Signs and symptoms of a hyperthyroidism
- Nervousness and irritability
- weight loss despite increased appetite
- increased heart rate(tachycardia)
- shortness of breath, palpitations
- excessive sweating
- muscle cramps
- heat intolerance
- fine tremor
- bulging eyes\ (ophthalmopathy
- thin hair and skin
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreatic beta cells and aids the cells to use glucose for energy. Insulin in the homeostatic ( balanced state) increases when blood glucose increases.
In type one diabetes, the beta cells produce no insulin whatsoever while in type two, normal or subnormal production may occur but the cells are not responsive to it. So, the pancreases increase production of insulin trying to meet the demand of increased blood glucose until they get exhausted and stop insulin production altogether. Insulin resistance leads to hyperglycemia and diabetes.
Insulin is a fat storage hormone and an imbalance causes fat accumulation around the belly. This can lead to metabolic syndrome, increased cortisol, androgen imbalance, and contribute to PCOS.
The reasons for this imbalance can be due to a diet with too much-processed foods, stress, sleeplessness, or even sickness. But in type 1, the problem is not diet related but beta cell malfunction. Insulin resistance is a serious problem that leads to systemic health issues including problems in the nervous system with neuropathy and even mental changes at times.
Studies have shown that insulin resistance and diabetes are also associated with increased risk of cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. So these are all the more reasons to strive to streamline our lifestyles.
Signs of insulin Imbalance
- Obesity, increased waist circumference
- excessive blood sugar
- skin changes-hyperpigmentation
- Increased LDL and low HDL
- Hypertension, arterial plaques(atherosclerosis)
- hyperandrogenism and PCOS
- protein in the urine,
- increased uric acid
- and metabolic syndrome.
A major factor that leads to metabolic syndrome that can lead to diabetes type 2 is obesity. Approximately 80 to 90 percent of people with DM 2 is are overweight. Being overweight can increase insulin resistance and an impaired suppression to insulin production by the liver as well. This risk is especially high in people with central obesity or obesity around the stomach.
Estrogen is one of the female hormones produced by the ovaries. Some small amounts of estrogens are also produced in the adrenal cortex, and androgens can be converted to estrogen especially in fat tissues. There are three types of estrogens E1, E2, E3. E2 or ESTRADIOL Is the most potent and most abundant in the body. Estrogens are important in the growth and development and maturation in females, but apart from that, estrogen is important in other metabolic functions as well. They include maintaining the normal structure of the skin, and blood vessels in women. Estrogen also decreases the rate of bone loss by preventing the parathyroid hormone from mineralizing( taking the calcium from bones into the blood)the bones. So you can see how one hormone controls the action of another.
Estrogen also increases the synthesis of protein in the liver for transporting other hormones, including estrogen, thyroxine, testosterone, and many others. Estrogens produce an increase of HDL, and lower LDL, and reduce cholesterol levels, and this explains why in menopause women start gaining weight as their estrogen levels diminish.
Estrogens have cardioprotective effects too. They prevent plaque buildup on arterial walls, prevent clot formation as well as having an antioxidant effect. They improve glucose metabolism, have an effect on insulin levels, and a direct effect on heart function, a protective effect on cognitive function and memory. Studies have shown a decrease in cognitive function on women who have had an oophorectomy( removal of ovaries) before menopause.
Estrogen also promotes nerve function and signal transmission by increasing production of neurotransmitters and receptors.
Also, according to this study, it was found that unbalanced estrogen metabolism can lead to ovarian cancer. This type of cancer is usually fatal due to the rate stage at which it is normally diagnosed, the study states. So yes estrogen is a powerhouse hormone in overall women’s health.
Signs of Estrogen Imbalance
There are many signs and symptoms of estrogen imbalance ranging from uncomfortable to serious health issues such as breast and ovarian cancers. Estrogen imbalance is heavily implicated in ovarian and other hormonal imbalances and breast cancer diagnoses. They include Fluid retention, memory problems, heavy periods, varicose veins, PMS, anxiety, low sex drive, vaginal dryness, heart problems, increased weight, irregular periods, hot flushes, sleeplessness, even cellulite.
Progesterone is the other ovarian hormone that is produced during the second half of the menstrual cycle by a structure called the corpus luteum. Its main aim is to prepare for conception and to support the maintenance of pregnancy. When there are high levels of progesterone ovulation cannot occur. In a well-orchestrated concert, several hormones work together with a coordination of the Hypothalamus, the pituitary, and the ovaries.
GnRH is released from the hypothalamus which stimulates the release of FSH which stimulates the follicles to make estrogen. When there is enough estrogen, then estrogen stimulates FSH to stop stimulating the follicles, and LH is released from the pituitary. Luteinizing hormone then stimulates corpus luteum to make progesterone.The role of progesterone helps thicken the endometrium and relaxes the uterine muscles in case of pregnancy so as not to contract to avoid expelling the new fertilized egg or fetus.
Progesterone in this relaxation can cause some problems.
Yea, you can thank progesterone for those discomforts you have endured midcycle or during pregnancy such as edema, nausea, constipation, flatulence(yikes), not cool at all. So, don’t blame a woman who let’s lose occasionally if, of childbearing years, she probably can’t help it. And heck, if she is pregnant, she can’t help it, plus many other things she can’t help. So, forgive any outcomes of this relaxed state.
Signs of Progesterone Imbalance
If progesterone is low, one may experience frequent miscarriages, irregular or missing periods, abdominal discomfort, and sleep problems.
Also, this means that estrogen is high or dominating and that can, in turn, lead to all the problems of high estrogen such as low libido, weight gain, and weak fragile bones, mood swings, and many more. Make sure to seek medical help and get an evaluation if you suspect low progesterone and especially if you are trying to conceive.
It turns out that even women produce and need testosterone. Who knew! The ovaries produce not only estrogen and progesterone but also androgens, these androgens which include testosterone are responsible for female sex drive and hair growth. An imbalance can cause dysfunction in these areas. If too high excess facial hair can occur and that annoying acne can be a constant companion.
Leptin and ghrelin
These are the hunger and satiation hormones, which can be to blame for the extra pounds. .Leptin is a hormone predominantly produced in the fat cell(adipocytes). Leptin has a great effect on metabolism. Leptin is a hormone predominantly produced in the fat cell(adipocytes). Its role is to signal and let one know “hey That’s enough food already, stop eating, okay?” Read more about Leptin and Ghrelins role on metabolism here. Leptin also influences the neuroendocrine system, the physiological system including the sympathetic nervous systems, the central nervous system even the cardiovascular system this study shows, and that leptin is also implicated in the pathogenesis of obesity.
According to a study published in American Physiological Society, leptin contributes to energy balance in the body as well as neuroendocrine function, metabolism, immune function, and bone metabolism. So as can be expected, a deficiency or malfunction in leptin leads to dysfunction in these areas. Sometimes it is a congenital deficiency and it can can be partial or complete.
A deficiency leads to impaired messaging when it comes to knowing when one is full and therefore overeating.
The good news is one can have it administered and can correct most of the problems. The irony is obese people may have lots of leptin as it is produced in fat cells, but as in the case of insulin insensitivity, they have leptin insensitivity and so treating them with leptin is not helpful.
This is your hunger hormone which influences food intake with the aim to keep energy balance. Ghrelin is produced in the stomach and its levels are high just before meals. Ghrelin receptors are also found in many areas of the brain important for feeding control such as the hypothalamus and energy centers as well as the reward centers such as the ventral tegmental areas of the brain which explains that great feeling you feel after a great meal. Its a signal from your reward center.
Ghrelin is also found around the dopamine neurons of the ventral tegmental areas in the brain. By targeting these areas ghrelin can use food reward-related behaviors. This ghrelin signaling at the level of the reward system shows the gut-brain reward system connection research shows. Ghrelin is also shown to increase in cases of some psychological stressor as well. This likely to give one energy to face the situation, however in our modern world where we face our dangers sitting mostly, this just works against us as we are forced o consume more calories, and we do not expend that energy. So obesity happens.
Natural ways to combat hormonal imbalance
The good news is that there are natural ways including lifestyle choices that can help prevent or reduce the unpleasant s/s of hormonal imbalance
One best way is to control your food choices. Including these foods in your diet
Eat Healthy Fats
Replace vegetable oils with saturated fats. Say What?! Yes, you that right.
It turns out all the hype about ditching saturated fats was wrong and not really the way to go especially for hormonal health. Studies are showing that some saturated fats such as butter from grass-fed cows are good for you.
The thing is, most hormones are made from cholesterol so we cannot completely stay away from saturated fats. So, a good cut of red meat, or, liver can be great. I know you may be thinking, “eeew!” about the liver, but it really is nutritious and good for your hormones.
Other good fats for hormonal health include coconut oil and avocados oils. Coconut oil, especially extra virgin coconut oil is great for balancing hormones and may help with thyroid problems.
Research shows a diet high in PUFFAs such as omega 3 fatty acids can delay ovarian aging as well, and we know how important the ovaries are in the role of estrogen production and reproductive health.
There are many sources of Omega 3 fatty acids. Use olive oil. The good old olive oil- cold pressed is best. Best if not heated. It is best if used in salads. Oils from the PUFFA, group, are especially great not only for hormonal health but also help in many health functions including mental health in areas of anxiety and depression. Read more on Omega 3 fatty acids and anxiety here. Foods like fatty fish such as wild salmon, and Mackerel, can provide your daily omega 3 needs.
Also, including nuts such as walnuts, in your diet and seeds such as flax seeds will help in this endeavor as well, as they are high in omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids, also improve thyroid function research has found, and can even reduce fertility issues too, this research shows.
Use medicinal adaptogens- herbs and plants that help the body adapt such as the following:
Ashwagandha has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for more than 2500 year and for good reason. It has many medicinal benefits such as anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, immunomodulatory effects, antibacterial, and antistress effects according to this study.
It also helps with thyroid function and adrenal control as shown in this article and in this article, as well as in this one. And supports improvement in symptoms of Non-classical adrenal hyperplasia. Ashwagandha alleviates signs of adrenal insufficiency and insulin resistance as well as signs of PCOS.
Maca root stimulates the pituitary and hypothalamus and studies have shown diverse benefits of using maca. You can see more benefits of maca here. These include improving sexual health, alleviating menopausal symptoms including depression and anxiety, interrupted sleep, night sweats and hot flushes improved as E2 (estradiol) level went up as detailed in this study. Maca root is a powerhouse of nutrition providing potassium, calcium, zinc, phosphorous, iodine, magnesium, iron, and essential fatty acids.
A study published in The International Journal of Biomedical Science found that maca improved fatigue, stress, and headaches decreased depression, improved decreased libido, proved night sweats and hot flushes, improved mood swings nervousness, even bone density, interrupted sleep patterns, all symptoms of estrogen and other hormone imbalances, improved and a significant increase in estrogen was seen in the study subjects.
Vitamin E according to a controlled research study was found to reduce hot flushes
Burdock root has been found to possess many therapeutic properties including great effects against cancer per this article. It also stimulates the pituitary, improves estrogen and liver function, reduces stress; cortisol versus progesterone, and is said to be a great blood purifier. It can even help the liver regenerate and it reduces uric acid in the blood.
Eat your fruits and veggies
Eat Broccoli and broccoli sprouts. Don’t wait until Thanksgiving to eat your broccoli sprouts. In fact, include more cruciferous vegetables in your meals often. Research published in the American Association for Cancer Research Journal found that broccoli and broccoli sprouts have a substance called sulforaphane which inhibits cancer stem cells in breast tissue, furthermore, other research supports eating more vegetable as prevention of cancer and this includes hormone supported cancers such as breast cancer
Back raspberries and blueberries
You have always known that berries are powerful antioxidants. Research is showing that they can actually protect one from cancer. They contain ellagic acid which researchers found reduced growth of estrogen-dependent breast cancers.
- Vitamins and minerals such as Zinc, Mag, B vitamins, c, vitamin D, and E. Vitamin E increase progesterone and according to a controlled research study, vitamin E was found to reduce hot flushes.
- Other great supplements include selenium. Eat selenium-rich foods, as selenium assists in reducing PCOS and Acne both conditions of hormonal imbalance. About 200-400 of selenium increases progesterone and decreases acne.
- Take vitamin C.A study published in The American Society of Reproductive Medicine found that supplementation with vitamin c during the luteal phase may correct infertility in some cases. Vitamin C was found to alleviate Luteal phase abnormality, an endocrine disorder that is associated with infertility and miscarriages. Vitamin C may improve infertility, and prevent miscarriages. With vitamin, C supplementation progesterone levels increased per research mentioned and it is known this hormone is needed to sustain a pregnancy.
Vitamin D in its active form functions as a Hormone.
Vitamin D has many functions that science keeps uncovering. Get some vitamin D supplementation or/ and go outdoors. But keep in mind vitamin D in too great amount can be toxic. Make sure to consult your doctor and have levels checked. Given that most people are deficient these days may mean that toxicity is unlikely if you take per directions, but let your MD know to weigh in on it. Studies are showing that vitamin D deficiency is a worldwide health problem according to this study. The study shows the role of vitamin D on a wide range of fetal genetic programming and gene regulation. This could likely explain why vitamin D has such a wide range of health benefits throughout life. So have your levels checked and ask your dr for recommendations.
Improving the vitamin D status of children and adult worldwide improves not only their musculoskeletal health but can also reduce the risk of some chronic illnesses such as certain cancers, autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases, diabetes, neurocognitive e diseases, and even impact mortality.
According to the same study, Vitamin D has far-reaching health benefits.
Low vitamin D status has been associated with an increased risk of type 1 diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, cognitive decline, depression, pregnancy complications, autoimmunity, allergy, and even frailty.
Low prenatal and neonatal vitamin D status may also increase susceptibility to schizophrenia, type 1 diabetes, and multiple sclerosis (MS) in later life via specific target organ effects, including the immune system, or through epigenetic modification.
You may have heard how important it is to have enough vitamin D for bone growth and development. But studies show that vitamin D does way more. Vitamin D is an important factor in estrogen biosynthesis of both female and male gonads according to research.
Vitamin D has been shown to have a protective effect against many chronic illnesses and it has been found that healthy adults who received 400-2000 IUDs showed an up or down regulation of certain genes that affect up to 160 metabolic pathways ranging from immune modulation to antioxidant activity. So yes vitamin D can affect the health of generations to come through gene regulation.
Vitamin D is shown to enhance estrogen production. It appears one needs to have optimal vitamin D from way back, in fact, from fetal age. Vitamin D status per this article may increase the likelihood of certain chronic diseases in later life, and maternal Vit D supplementation is encouraged as a public health measure to decrease risk and range of chronic diseases. So, expecting mamas, you got to step into the sunlight. 5-10 minutes of sun exposure to the arms and face is recommended 2-3 times a week. Apparently, sunscreen diminishes its absorption, so don’t linger in the sun too long as skin cancer is also a risk.
Essential oils are amazing and have so many healthy and diverse uses. It turns out some can help with hormonal balance too.
Clary sage oil. This powerhouse of essential oil has many benefits including balancing your hormones. Is there anything that clary sage cannot do? It is simply amazing. Clary sage can lower cortisol studies found and can improve depressive symptoms according to studies such as this one, published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology. Clary sage oil Can help with estrogen balance as it contains phytoestrogens. Clary sage can also improve symptoms of PMS including cramping, mood swings, and even symptoms of menopause such as hot flushes this study published in PUB Med found.
This research found that sage reduced hot flushes and hot flushes severity in menopausal women. Clary sage has been used to treat and alleviate symptoms such as PMS and menopause issues including depression since the 4th BCE. Just opening a bottle and taking a whiff of this oil alleviates symptoms.
Holy basil oil
Holy Basil or Tulsi within the Ayurveda is referred to as “the incomparable one”, or the “Queen of herbs”, with a wide range of benefits including powerful antioxidant properties including protection from chemical toxic induced injuries as well as antidiabetic actions preventing metabolic syndrome per this source.
Tulsi is also referred to as liquid yoga”, conferring the same benefit s of calmness, clarity of thought, and relaxation. And has been shown to reduces cortisol, improves mood, and enhances mental clarity and improves estrogen balance. According to research, holy basil was found to reduce stress markers such as increased blood cortisol, and hyperglycemia. If you want to experience the power of holy basil you grab for yourself some here.
Exercise is great for mind and body wellness or optimal health. Try yoga. Yoga helps with lymph movement removing toxins out of the body. We all know toxin of any kind is bound to affect health. Hormonal balance is also affected by toxins in our environments that may find their way into our bodies. So if some of these can be flushed out through the lymphatic system, that improves hormonal balance as well. Go for gentle exercise as too vigorous exercise can induce further cortisol production, which is not good if you have a hormonal imbalance.
Sleep More and better;
Lack of sleep or not getting the optimal amount of sleep can wreak havoc on your hormonal balance. This affects the circadian rhythm of your cortisol, and Lack of sleep affects insulin and glucose metabolism plus leptin and ghrelin as is shown in this study. Sleep restriction causes low levels of leptin, meaning that one does not get that signal that they have had enough food, therefore one overeats. Then the opposite is also true, the opposing hormone, Ghrelin is then found in high levels causing an excessive feeling of hunger, and thereby more eating.
Furthermore, lack of sleep leads to dysregulated eating that goes beyond caloric needs and obesity as studies have shown. Obesity, in turn, causes more hormonal imbalances.
Another problem with sleep disruption is that it can lead to diabetes due to altered insulin sensitivity, and overeating as lack of sleep not only increased hunger and appetite but stimulated areas in the brain that increased the need to eat leading to obesity. And as the excerpt below shows, can lead to activation of genes that promote obesity due to lack of sleep. Who knew sleep is this crucial? It is shocking to imagine that one can pass along these genes to posterity just by having too little sleep.
A 2014 study published in Pub Med on the effect of sleep on metabolism found that:
Both reduction in total sleep duration with slow-wave sleep (SWS) largely preserved and alterations of sleep quality (especially marked reduction of SWS) with preservation of total sleep duration are associated with insulin resistance without compensatory increase in insulin secretion, resulting in impaired glucose tolerance and increased risk of type 2 diabetes. When performed under rigorously controlled conditions of energy intake and physical activity, sleep restriction is also associated with a decrease in circulating levels of leptin (an anorexigenic hormone) and an increase in circulating levels of ghrelin (an orexigenic hormone), hunger and appetite. Furthermore, sleep restriction is also associated with a stimulation of brain regions sensitive to food stimuli, indicating that sleep loss may lead to obesity through the selection of high-calorie food. There is also evidence that sleep restriction could provide a permissive environment for the activation of genes that promote obesity. Indeed, the heritability of body mass index is increased in short sleepers. Thus, chronic sleep curtailment, which is on the rise in modern society, including in children, is likely to contribute to the current epidemics of type 2 diabetes and obesity.
Who knew sleep is this crucial? It is shocking to imagine that one can pass along these genes to posterity just by having too little sleep.
Relaxation and emotional health are essential when it comes to hormonal balance. So take the time to relax sometime. Yes, I know! That’s a tall order for some of us. How does one do this? How does a woman, a wife, and mother relax or reduce stress? However, it’s important though, as her health may depend on it. So find some quiet times. Even if it’s after the kids have gone to bed.
Take time for you. Read, or take a long sweet smelling bath. Do the things that help you relax and take time for your mental health including journaling, or yoga or take a detox bath to unwind. This simple actions can help you keep those cortisol level down, and avoid the cascade of events that follows elevated cortisol levels.
Detox bath using Epsom salt
Take a relaxing bath with Epsom salt. Epsom salts have magnesium which helps with hormonal balance especially because magnesium is essential in insulin balance. The skin is one of the largest body organs and it is permeable, so it will absorb magnesium and then magnesium will draw out toxins out of the body. It a win-win situation, as the body and mind relax, and you gain magnesium, an element that the body needs for many other functions including cardiac and nerve health. See here for more on magnesium and mental health.
Sugar is an endorphin disrupter, and it can lead to inflammation by feeding all the bad gut bacteria and destroying gut health. Inflammation may eventually cause a leaky gut and metabolic syndrome including diabetes and obesity. There is way too much sugar in the modern western diet, and its time we paid attention to what we buy as food and drinks as sugar is everywhere.
I know! That glass of wine with dinner is great, but alcohol disrupts the liver’s ability to detoxify the body especially its ability to remove and metabolize for excretion those hormones that have already been used. If these are not taken out then they continue circulating in the bloodstream and this disrupts the hormonal balance. Remember that many hormones work on a negative feedback system, where when one hormone reaches the optimal level, a signal is sent to start producing another and to stop that hormone’s secretion.
Avoid exposure to Xenoestrogens
Xenoestrogens are estrogen-like substances that are toxic to our bodies and can affect hormonal balance. They are found in food and things we use such as care products, plastics, household cleaners that we spray in our living spaces. Before you slap that new lipstick on or that new foundation, check to see what is made of. Care products that have parabens, for example, are not healthy. And there is a reason why some cleaning products produce fumes that strangle one. It is time to consider natural cleaners and care products that are free of toxins.
Use natural skin care products. Many things we use for our care are loaded with toxins. Check out this article for a wealth of information on natural care products.
There are many ways to keep our bodies and minds healthy. One way is to nourish your hormones, adjusting our lifestyle, living naturally, and using natural products to optimize our hormonal balance.
Tell me. What lifestyle changes are you making to improve and optimize your health? And please, if you found this article helpful, share with your friends on your social media channels. Here is to blossoming, thriving, and balance.
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