"what are hormones?" and more faqs
What are hormones? According to OB/Gyn Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz, hormones are the chemical messengers of our body. They are the way our organs talk to each other and comprise what is called the endocrine system (pituitary, thyroid, adrenals and pancreas, to name a few). It is actually a miracle that any of this works at all and yet delicate and intricate interactions occur constantly and are constantly being readjusted to respond to the ever changing environment of our body processes/metabolism (AKA energy balance and use), menstrual cycle, hunger and thirst, water balance, mood, digestion.
What causes hormone imbalances?
Aging, stress, sleep deprivation, nutrition habits, worrying…. all contribute to imbalances, as well genetic factors and environmental damage. When hormone levels fluctuate, this can affect your mood, sexual desire, fertility and ovulation. In other words, the imbalance of hormones may impact negatively on how your reproductive system responds.
What are some of the most common signs of hormone imbalances?
Some common symptoms are PMS, insomnia, anxiety, weight gain, painful breasts and (clinical) headaches. These can become quite serious and require diagnostic testing and supplementation.
Hormone FAQs and Potential Imbalance Culprits
• I’m really moody and I have no sex drive: Estrogen
Estrogen is a hormone that comprises a group of compounds, including estrone, estradiol and estriol. It is the main sex hormone and is essential to the menstrual cycle. Although estrogen exists in men as well as women, it is found in higher amounts in women, especially those capable of reproducing. The imbalances of progesterone and estrogen can lead to PMS, mood swings and loss of libido.
• I can’t sleep: Melatonin
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland, which is situated at the base of the brain. Although this hormone is best known for regulating the sleep and wake cycles, it also plays many other important roles in the body, including maintaining a healthy immune system, serving as an antioxidant, and regulating the menstrual cycle. Our bodies’ produce less melatonin as we age, which explains why as we get older we have a tougher time sleeping.
• I have a real problem with binge eating and heard it can be because of a hormone imbalance: Ghrelin
Leptin and ghrelin are two hormones that have been recognized to have a major influence on energy balance. Leptin is a mediator of long-term regulation of energy balance, suppressing food intake and thereby inducing weight loss. Ghrelin on the other hand is a fast-acting hormone, seemingly playing a role in meal initiation. In obese people the circulating level of the anorexigenic hormone leptin is increased, whereas surprisingly, the level of the orexigenic hormone ghrelin is decreased. It is now established that obese patients are leptin-resistant. These are important in hunger and satiation – very complicated relationship with female hormones and may explain why some women get PMS and munchies! But it also impacts weight loss, gain and metabolism. When you get hungry it’s ghrelin that stimulates your brain to feel hungry. After you eat, Leptin cues your brain to feel full. If these two fall out of sync you may lose your ability to know when you’re full and can overeat. You can help by getting a full night of sleep and reduce stress.
• I’m always tired what could be wrong: Cortisol
Cortisol has many functions. It helps the body use sugar (glucose) and fat for energy (metabolism), and it helps the body manage stress. Cortisol levels can be affected by many conditions, such as physical or emotional stress, strenuous activity, infection, or injury. It is related to water balance, adrenal function, metabolism, energy – the idea of adrenal fatigue has gained a lot of attention. We are all tired. Wouldn’t it be great if it was just our hormones and not our lives we needed to change? But before you run to the anti-aging docs for more and more compounded hormones, we all need to reassess our priorities, expectations and stress. Sometimes, what you need is an end-of-day time out. Try closing your eyes and breathe in deeply (here's a video to get you started)
What is PCOS?
According to Dr. Natasha Turner, PCOS stands for polycystic ovary syndrome. PCOS is a condition in which a woman has an imbalance of female sex hormones. This may lead to menstrual cycle changes, cysts in the ovaries, trouble getting pregnant and other health changes.
What is excess Estrogen?
According to Dr. Natasha Turner, having excess estrogen affects women in their twenties and thirties. They will have weight gain in their hips, thighs and PMS. You get it from your environment, chemicals, plastics, pesticides and birth control pills. Women also get it because their bodies can’t get rid of it. They are constipated and they don’t eat enough fiber.
What is carbohydrate sensitivity and insulin imbalance?
According to Dr. Natasha Turner, when you eat the wrong carbohydrates it leads to hormonal imbalances. You start getting symptoms that include cravings, bloating and excessive appetite. You lose your ability to lose weight even if you are following a good diet. You feel very fatigued after eating. People have to identify the carbohydrates that they’re eating that cause imbalances in their hormones.
What is HCG?
According to Dr. Ian Smith, Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) is a hormone that is made by the body during pregnancy. It is a natural, protein hormone that acts as a precursor in the bodies of men and women to produce hormones such as testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, and thyroid hormones. The act of stimulating these hormones in a very low levels appears to help the body sustain lean body mass while dieting. Normally, a very low loss of muscle and lean tissues. The HCG appears to help counteract that.