Introduction to Hormones and Natural Methods of Balancing Them
Most times, when people use the word ‘Hormones,’ it is for the wrong reasons. For some, it is the perfect explanation for the unusual behaviors of pregnant women or aggressive men. However, the truth is they stretch far beyond all of these assumptions. Hormones are a crucial part of the body system; without them, the human body will not function optimally.
In this article, we will be taking a closer look at hormones, their types, roles, and how to keep them balanced in the body. So, read on!
Let’s kick off with an Explanation of what Hormones actually are.
Contrary to the belief that all hormones do is simply to instigate a change in mood; they constitute an important part of a body system that oversees several bodily functions, i.e., the endocrine system. The endocrine system coordinates metabolism, skin health, sleep cycles, and other body processes. It constitutes a group of glands that create and distribute hormones – carriers of chemical messages across the body.
The endocrine system is very comprehensive, and except you take time to find out how it really works, you may continue to work with those half-baked meanings people have fed you with. And talking about finding out, we will be revealing more about hormones in the latter part of this article.
What are Endocrine Glands?
Endocrine glands are the hormone-secreting glands in the body, and they come in different types. This is why we have several different types of hormones in the body. The endocrine system comprises of endocrine glands such as;
- Thyroid; as produced by the thyroid gland, and mediates digestion, heart rate, calorie use, and others.
- Adrenal; as produced by the adrenal gland, and coordinates libido (sex drive) and cortisol (stress hormone).
- Ovaries, which produce all of the female sex hormones, i.e., testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen.
- Testes are responsible for the production of sperm as well as testosterone (the male sex hormone).
- Pancreas secretes insulin, and this mediates sugar control, making it crucial to sugar-related conditions like diabetes.
- Hypothalamus, which is responsible for several things, including sleep, thirst, body temperature, hunger, and most importantly, the release of hormones from other glands.
- Thalamus is responsible for the secretion of melatonin – the sleep hormone.
- Parathyroid oversees the body’s calcium levels.
- Thymus is responsible for the production of thymus – the immune system hormone.
- Pituitary is usually called the “master gland,” because it oversees the activities of all other glands, in addition to secreting growth hormones.
Vital Hormones you should know
Now that you know that the endocrine system consists of different glands, each of which produces a different hormone handling a different role in the body, let’s take a look at these hormones they created and how they contribute to the overall health of your body.
- Melatonin is responsible for the internal body clock, and by implication, sleep cycles and patterns. It is also the hormone associated with insomnia and sleeping issues.
- Cortisol is the hormone responsible for the “fight or flight” response. It is also called the stress hormone.
- Testosterone is the sex hormone in both females and males.Apart from the sex drive, it is crucial to the growth and development of sex organs.
- Estrogen is another sex hormone in both males and females. Its regulation is pivotal to the female reproductive system and menstruation.
- Progesterone is also a sex hormone. However, it helps to maintain the health of a pregnancy.
- Growth hormone is responsible for cell reproduction and growth. It is usually more common among bodybuilders.
- Leptin is the hormone that regulates appetite and stimulates or signifies satisfaction.
- Ghrelin also deals with the appetite, but it signifies or stimulates hunger.
- Insulin regulates blood sugar. Thus it is associated with a couple of sugar-related health issues.
- Adrenaline is just like cortisol. It is also a stress hormone and associated with the “flight or fight” response. It regulates heart rate, blood flow, blood sugar levels, and pupil dilation, among others.
Imbalanced Hormones and their implications
A body that has an insufficient or excess amount of any of the hormones identified above is said to suffer from hormone imbalance. Imbalance in hormones can be due to a couple of factors such as injury, trauma, eating disorders, stress, cancer treatment, and hormonal birth control and similar medications, among others. The condition is usually very sensitive, such that the slightest shift in balance can lead to severe negative and positive changes in the body. It is even more difficult to manage the symptoms that come with such situations in both men and women, considering that hormones are related to several parts of the body.
Hormone imbalances in women may lead to hair loss, acne, breast tenderness, weight loss or gain, vaginal dryness, irregular periods, and indigestion. Other conditions include skin tags, increased hair growth in unusual places (chest, back, or face), skin darkening, and pains during sex.
For men, on the other hand, manifestations of hormonal imbalances include hair loss, fatigue, weight gain, depression, reduced libido, and reduction in muscle mass. Others are memory loss and erectile dysfunction.
More Implications of hormonal imbalance
Hormonal imbalance can lead to several conditions, thus highlighting the complexity of the endocrine system and the importance of these tiny chemical messengers. Below are some of the common conditions emanating from imbalanced hormones:
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
You will find PCOS among women mostly and is a result of too much insulin and androgen hormones. Women suffering from such condition will experience inflammation around the ovaries, more facial hair, and irregular periods. If it continues for long, it can lead to infertility, endometrial cancer, depression, miscarriage, sleep apnea, and gestational diabetes, among others
Diabetes is very rampant among the US population and has been identified as the seventh most common cause of death in the country. Diabetes arises due to the inability of the body to secrete insulin – the hormone responsible for blood sugar regulation. This skyrockets the blood sugar level of the body. Diabetes can be Type 1 or Type 2. Type 1 diabetes is usually discovered during youth and is genetic. Type 2 diabetes is common among aged individuals and is due to an unhealthy lifestyle and a bit of genetics
This is the implication of having too much cortisol in the body, perhaps due to the use of oral corticosteroid medications for treating asthma. Symptoms include pink or purple stretch marks, acne, more weight in the back and midsection, as well as thickening of the skin, among others
It is possible to have “overactive” thyroid gland, which leads to the secretion of an excessive amount of hormones. Thus, the heart beats way faster, and the individual loses weight significantly. Other symptoms include anxiety, increased appetite, and in the long run, irregular heartbeat and loss of bone density
This is the sharp contrast of hyperthyroidism, and it is a result of an underactive thyroid gland. Hence, the body’s metabolism suffers, and the body loses weight significantly, in addition to other symptoms like digestive problems, puffy face, dry skin, fatigue, and others.
When the estradiol – a type of estrogen – in the body is too much, it leads to ovarian cancer. Early symptoms manifest in the ovaries and if left unattended to, extends to other organs. It can also cause weight loss, constipation, and abdominal swelling.
How to Balance hormones naturally
Having emphasized the roles of hormones in the human body, you will agree that it is best to have them in balanced quantities in the body at all times. However, in cases of imbalance, the ideal solution is to consult a doctor for the right treatment or medication. Fortunately, there are ways of getting your hormones back in the right amounts, but these are only applicable in less severe cases.
You can create and maintain body hormones when you avoid stress, eat the right foods that improve hormone health and microbiome, spend quality time with your loved ones, and maintain blood sugar balance. The same result can also be achieved by adhering to a healthy lifestyle, doing the right exercises regularly, sticking to a balanced diet, and having a sufficient sleep. Doing things contrary to the above puts you at the risk of having a hormonal imbalance.
Apart from the above tips, below are some more specific methods of balancing your hormones naturally:
Consuming more cruciferous vegetables
Superfood vegetables like cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, and broccoli are quite effective in getting rid of excess estrogen in your gut. For best results, eat them three times daily, either lightly boiled or steamed. Get only the organic ones and chop or chew them to get the best benefits possible.
Take more healthy fats
When you consume too many unhealthy fats, you put your body at the risk of producing an insufficient amount of hormones that drive energy and feelings of satisfaction.
Your night rest should span seven to nine hours
This duration is sufficient for the body to release, rebalance, and replenish hormones naturally. The magic youth hormone or human growth hormone, as well as other useful hormones that helps in restoring, repairing, and refreshing cells, are secreted during stage-3 sleep. All these help to preserve the youthfulness of the brain.
Relaxing is key
Stressing yourself every time will cause your cortisol and stress hormones to negatively affect other hormones in a process called pregnenolone steal syndrome. The body steals from other hormones so that it can secrete more of cortisol, and this leads to hormonal imbalance. So, do more activities that relax you, including random deep breaths, reading, jogging, meditation, yoga, and others.
Reduce the intake of stimulants
Caffeine, consumed in sodas, energy drinks, or coffee, when consumed in excess, can negatively affect the hormones that coordinate restorative sleep. The same is sometimes true for chocolate and tea.
Use glass containers instead of plastics
This is even more important if you will be heating the contents in these containers. Plastics contain BPA, thus making them unsafe for use. BPA is a popular estrogen-mimicker that easily throw off hormones, and is now found in even non-BPA plastics.
Reduce or avoid inorganic beauty and skin care products
Use more of the natural variants of these products as they do not contain parabens – harmful chemicals that are found in personal care and cosmetic products. These chemicals can disrupt hormones and their function.
Starting from the introduction to hormones to the roles, types, and implications of their imbalance, this piece has taken a closer look at all the important things you need to know about hormones and balancing them naturally. We hope you are now better informed on how to manage your hormones better and ultimately stay healthy.