Your Hormones Part 2 - How they're affecting you
In part one we discussed two important hormones, insulin and thyroid. Today we are going to examine some of the sex hormones; estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Whether you are old or young, man or woman, you definitely want to maintain the proper balance of these hormones. Let's examine them and what we can do to ensure we keep them in check.
Estrogen: One of the biggest problems we see with estrogen today is dominance. Estrogen dominance occurs when we have too much estrogen in our bodies compared to our progesterone levels. Today's society contains many things which can mimic estrogen and are termed "xeno-estrogens". These are things such as herbicides, pesticides and various plastics. They bind to our estrogen receptor sites and interfere with natural biochemical activity. Another way that we can get increased estrogen levels is eating meat from animals that have been treated with synthetic hormones. Many animals are stuffed with estrogen to "fatten" them up. If the animals are taking it in, you will too. Soy is another culprit that can increase estrogen levels. Many problems can arise from estrogen dominance such as breast/uterine/prostate/ovarian cancers, decreased sex drive, mood swings, depression, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, headaches, osteoporosis, water retention, weight gain, memory loss, thyroid dysfunction, and hair loss. Just to name a few! We can help to prevent this syndrome by ensuring we are buying organic produce and meats not treated with synthetic hormones, consuming a high fiber diet of fruits/vegetables and getting in lots of antioxidants.
Progesterone: Progesterone has many beneficial effects. It's a natural diuretic, sleep aid, anti-anxiety and simulator of metabolism. It raises body temperature, helps to build bone density, reduce blood pressure and lower cholesterol. When properly balanced with estrogen it protects against cancers such as breast and prostate. Of course, the amount of progesterone and estrogen produced will vary depending on age and the decline that occurs in women is natural. The imbalance between the two is more significant when either estrogen is much higher or when progesterone is low during ovulating years. Progesterone deficiency can come from stress, lack of ovulation, hypothyroidism and other imbalanced hormones. In order to keep our levels up it is important to ensure that we eat organic fruits and vegetables, keep our stress levels low and sleep soundly.
Testosterone: Usually testosterone is thought of as primarily a male hormone however, women also require some and need it for many important functions in the body. The amount produced will vary by gender, age, eating and sleeping habits, stress and medications. Testosterone is essential for a few functions. It preserves muscle mass, facilitates sex drive, regulates mood, builds energy, enhances nutrition and forms masculine traits. It decreases fat stores and increases bone mass. Low testosterone levels can lead to sexual dysfunction, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, low energy, mood changes and weak bones. In order to ensure testosterone levels remain elevated we can do a few of these things. Eat a good amount of quality fat such as butter, coconut and olive oil. Eat sufficient amounts of protein. Exercise frequently, specifically strength train. Supplement with a quality multi-vitamin and ensure you balance your sleep & stress levels. Ways to deplete testosterone: alcohol, low fat/low protein diets, too much stress and lack of sleep.
This is just a brief overview of the sex hormones and their affects on our bodies. There are many great lifestyle choices we can make to ensure we keep a proper balance. Top priorities; eat well, sleep well and exercise often! Seems like the cure for so many things these days doesn't it?! So keep at it, your hormones will thank you.