Although both men and women have the same hormones just in different ratios, women seem to be the bearers of more complex issues. Yes it can be complex, as maintaining the right hormonal balance requires other body systems such as, the nervous, endocrine and digestive systems to also work in synergy! Why the connection between the nervous and endocrine systems? Well to give you a broad idea, the hypothalamus located in the brain controls the pituitary gland which is the master of endocrine hormones .It acts control on glands in the body such as the adrenal, thyroid, ovaries, testes, Its action on the thyroid gland for instance, is for the production of thyroid hormones and balance the body’s metabolism Adrenal glands (sit on top of the kidneys), are responsible namely from the production of cortisol, DHEA from cholesterol ( DHEA is the hormone that controls testosterone and 3 types of oestrogen), and aldosterone ( involved in blood pressure and fluid concentration balance).I may have lost you there, but with future blogs you will slowly develop a better understanding of the connection between body systems and overall it is all about balance
Hormone imbalances can occur so easily especially since they are incredibly sensitive to the environment (stress, exposure to many compounds that modern lifestyles put us through and nutrition)
Symptoms can range from mild to severe, where the correlation between hormonal imbalances and the symptoms have gone unnoticed or may be worse around menstrual cycles for women. These can include bloating, feeling sluggish, insomnia, finding it hard to focus, constipation, skin issues, mood changes including depression, loss of hair, weight gain, muscle loss or weakness, poor libido and infertility.
There are pathways in the body that ensure adequate conversion, transport, modulation or excretion of hormones but several factors can upset our balance as mentioned before. Always aim to balance the body as a whole, functionally, to see positive changes in hormonal levels.
• Ensuring the liver detoxification pathways are working correctly
-Support your liver with superfoods (wheatgrass, green tea, organic nuts and seeds, acai berries…), dark green leafy vegetables(kale/spinach/chinese greens), lean protein, and foods high in anti-oxidants (think of eating a rainbow of colours-berries/avocadoes/beetroots/carrots).The liver is the organ that is responsible for breaking down hormones that we produce along with its actions with several other compounds (alcohol, medications, pesticides etc).Often symptoms seen in Premenstrual Syndromes (PMS), is an imbalance between progesterone and oestrogen.
• Adequate insoluble and soluble fibre can improve the excretion of excess oestrogen. As once hormones have detoxified, it is important to get rid of hormone by-products. This is particularly important if on the contraceptive pill. Examples of insoluble fibre (helps to form the bulk of stools and speed the digestive process) : wholewheat and wholegrain products, nuts and seeds (except golden linseeds), fruits such as apples and pears and vegetables such as carrots.. Soluble fibre(attracts water and turns to a gel like texture) : oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, peas, and some fruits (strawberries, bananas) and several vegetables.
• Healthy gut bacteria can make sure that the unwanted hormones are not re-absorbed back into the blood stream to create further havoc with your hormones. Disturbances in gut bacteria can arise from medical conditions, medications, stress, poor diet (high refined flours, sugars, caffeine, dairy, processed foods ) etc. If choosing to go down the route of probiotics, consult a nutritional therapist to make the right choice, as they are specific strains in combination or alone, which can be right for you .Specific food also known as , prebiotics (sauerkraut, kefir ) can feed your gut with good bacteria. The right balance of omega 3 and 6 is also key to keep inflammation at bay and promote a healthy gut.
• Limiting hormone disruptors in our day to day life. For instance: phthalate plasticisers from plastic food packaging have been shown to disrupt hormones. A hormone disruptor is basically ‘an external agent which interferes with the production, release, transport, metabolism, binding, action or elimination of natural hormones in the body responsible for the right balance and regulation of developmental processes.’
• Supporting your blood sugar levels is key. Excessive amounts of insulin are produced when blood sugar levels are high and this can raise your stress hormones, which are closely linked to your sex hormones. Too low blood sugar levels are not ideal either. Combining the right food categories and eating at regular times, mindfully, can help tremendously.
• Finding the time to relax and do the things that you like. (Be it watching back to back episodes of the modern family, sleep, cook, meditate, sex, eat dark chocolate). Stress can affect the body as a whole, and your hormones are certainly not omitted. You must remember that also in times of stress, your body is deficient of vital nutrients nourishing it with the right food or supplements can be key !
- Exercise wisely: Yes we release feel good hormones called ‘endorphins’ upon exercising, but if you have been told you have adrenal or thyroid imbalances, choose lower impact classes such as pilates, yoga or swimming instead of a body attack class ,and slowly but surely work your way up the exercise ladder as you wish, under supervision.
• Supplements can help a particular protocol at specific stages, get in touch to find out more!
Hormone imbalances differ from person to person as we are individuals with different medical backgrounds, family history, genetic makeups with different diets and lifestyles.
Find out how tailored support can be provided for hormone imbalances as well as the management of conditions such as fertility, PCOS, PMS, menopause and endometriosis