WHAT ARE HORMONES?
Hormones are the body’s messengers. They travel through the bloodstream and deliver important messages to tissues and organs. Hormones dictate and control appetite, metabolism, sleep patterns, stress response, libido, and mood, to name a few. When there are too many, or too few messengers traveling through the body, it can lead to all sorts of problems.
Have you ever heard of cortisol? Insulin? Melatonin? Serotonin? These are some examples of hormones that play an integral role in health and functioning of the human body. Cortisol is made from cholesterol, and it is referred to as the stress hormone as it responds to internal and external stressors. Cortisol affects every organ system in the body as it regulates metabolism, inflammation and immune function. Insulin, another important messenger, regulates energy production and appetite. Insulin allows sugar to get into cells so that it can be used to make energy. It also signals the liver to store extra sugars for future use. Melatonin, a hormone produced by the brain, regulates sleep and wakefulness. Influenced by exposure to light and darkness, it’s what tells the body when it’s time for sleep, and when it’s time to be up and alert. Serotonin, is a messenger that is involved in mood, feelings of well-being and happiness. The majority of serotonin is produced in the gut, outlining the importance of the food we eat. There are many other hormones in the body that have very important roles, such as estrogen and testosterone, but I'm saving those for a future article.
WHAT IS A HORMONE IMBALANCE?
Too much or too little of anything is never a good thing. The same is true for hormone health. An overproduction or an underproduction of hormones can wreak havoc in the body. Hormonal imbalances can present as a broad range of signs and symptoms, including:
Heat/ cold intolerance
Constipation or diarrhea
Unable to cope with stress
Mood changes/ irritability
5 TIPS TO SUPPORT YOUR HORMONES
Eat enough protein. In addition to supplying the body with the necessary building blocks, adequate protein helps to balance appetite and hunger, and eliminate those mid-afternoon munchies.
Manage stress. Periods of prolonged stress lead to chronically elevated cortisol levels. This can result in major disruptions in sleep, appetite, immune function, digestive function, reproductive function and mental health.
Avoid refined sugars. Refined sugars lead to elevated insulin levels. Increased levels of insulin over a long period of time can cause cellular damage, inflammation and can lead to the development of metabolic diseases, like type II diabetes mellitus.
Exercise regularly. Regular exercise influences hormonal health through its ability to reduce insulin.
Book a visit with your naturopathic doctor! Did you know naturopathic doctors can offer routine blood work? Naturopathic doctors are trained to connect the dots and determine the root cause of disease. Balanced hormones equate to a balanced life.
Are you ready to balance your hormones? Book your first appointment!