As a woman, you are sure to come across terms such as hormonal imbalance, hormonal changes, adrenal fatigue, how hormones affect your health, and many other variations.
Before I became peri-menopausal I didn’t know what even the heck a hormone was. All I knew was I felt bloody awful and I needed to do something about it before someone was accidentally on purpose stabbed in the eye!
So what is a hormone? What the hell does a hormone do? What happens when hormones are not in balance? How can I tell if my if I have a hormonal imbalance (aside from wanting to stab t nearest person!)?
What Is A Hormone And What Do They Do?
Simply put a hormone is a chemical substance that acts as a messenger to control and coordinate activities within the body. Activities such as sleep, MOOD, digestion, reproduction, metabolism, and stress.
You may have already heard the thyroid hormones, adrenaline, cortisol, insulin, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.
In the case of hormonal imbalance we can experience a range of symptoms:
Which is caused by cortisol the stress hormone consistently being too high or too low.
This is the fight or flight hormone. It is released in response to a stressful, exciting, dangerous, or threatening situation.
The trouble here is that even if our minds are thinking about a stressful situation it can’t perceive that it isn’t real.
No your not in the middle of some yell fest with the company that supplies your god awful slow internet. You are just lying in bed imagining the call that you are going to make to the company whose contract with you is on shaky ground.
In both cases, adrenaline is released. At night this could cause restlessness and so lack of sleep. Overtime excessive adrenaline can cause high blood pressure, and elevate your risk of heart attacks or stroke. Weight gain, anxiety, and insomnia could also show up.
If this hormone is out of whack you might experience tiredness, depression, dry skin, brain fog and weight gain as well as several other issues.
If your estrogen ratios are out of balance which can often be the case in perimenopause or menopause then you have these possible side effects to look forward to and vaginal dryness, hot flushes, night sweats, brain fog, and depression are just some of them.
Too much of this and you might notice excessive hair on your face and arms, acne or even polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Not enough and there is the possibility of weight gain, fatigue and low sex drive.
Here it is not a case of imbalance that causes problems but the body is possibly resistant to insulin. The body still makes the hormone but doesn’t use it efficiently which also happens to be a pre-diabetic marker. Being resistant can show up as cravings for sweets, tiredness after eating, increased thirst, or difficulty losing weight.
How do we keep our hormones in balance?
A healthy diet.
A diet adequate in high-quality protein.
Cut out processed foods and foods high in sugar and refined carbs.
Eat plenty of fatty fish rich in Omega 3 fatty acids.
Include soluble fibre in your diet such as leafy greens, nuts and seeds.
Manage your stress levels. Try for 10 minutes minimum of a stress-reducing activity such as yoga, meditation or reading.
Get enough quality sleep. Stop watching Netflix and go to bed at a reasonable time. Try to get at least 7 hours.
Move. Do a mix of aerobic and resistance training. Walk. Try multi-tasking, walk and meditate.
The Bottom Line
You need your hormones to be in balance for your body to function optimally.
Hormonal imbalance can increase your risk of health issues such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes and many other health problems.
Menopause and ageing can put your hormones out of balance but there are steps you can take to keep your hormones doing a happy dance.
Your hormones are involved in every aspect of your health. You need them in very specific amounts for your body to function optimally.
Hormonal imbalances may increase your risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other health problems.
Despite the fact that ageing and other factors are beyond your control, there are many steps you can take to help your hormones function optimally.
Consuming nutritious foods, exercising on a regular basis and engaging in other healthy behaviours can go a long way toward improving your hormonal health.