I get a LOT of questions about hormones! So, I’ve crafted this post to provide you with some valuable information, and clear up some misconceptions, about your hormone health.
What Exactly ARE Hormones?
Hormones are chemical messengers that travel from a gland (such as the adrenals or thyroid) to a receptor site on a cell elsewhere in the body (such as the ovaries). This delicate communication system is how the body regulates blood sugar, sex hormones, mood, sleep and wake cycle, metabolism, and HUNDREDS of other functions. When this system isn’t working well, no amount of exercise or diet is going to fix how you feel or look, but luckily there is something that you can do about it!
How Do Hormones Get Out of Balance?
In order for your glands to make hormones, it needs adequate nutrients and a non-toxic environment. In addition to avoiding chemical exposure, we also need to optimize our liver detox pathways and gut health.
As you know, nutrients are the building blocks of ALL tissues in the body and are essential to all biochemical processes our body needs to function at its best.
BUT if our gut is not functioning optimally, then we won't actually absorb those nutrients.
When we have a low toxic load, and the nutrients we need, our brain and hormonal glands can communicate effectively. These signals determine the exact type and amount of hormone the gland produces and releases into the bloodstream.
When working in harmony, your body is the perfect pharmacy ;)
It makes the right hormones, at the right time, every time!
WHY Do Hormones Get Out of Balance? (the MOST important question!)
Hormonal imbalances are almost always a downstream effect stemming from an upstream issue. That is why taking synthetic or bio-identical hormones will usually only mask the real problem.
It's essential to find out where the actual breakdown is taking place in the hormone system and correct the imbalance -- from the inside out, not the other way around.
It’s important to find the root cause, because hormone imbalances ALWAYS affect the function of other body systems, such as the skeletal or cardiovascular system. Although taking prescription hormones may seem to be helpful in the short term, ignoring the root cause of the problem can have long-term negative consequences.
Tips to Support Healthy Hormones
Going back to decreasing your toxic load, one of the most potent actions you can take is to start avoiding and replacing plastic in your kitchen. This includes storage containers, plastic wrap, baggies, water bottles, utensils and more. This plastic leaches into your food and water and ends up in your body.
Not only is it a poor choice to microwave your food (that's another topic altogether), but heating plastic makes it leach into the food EVEN more. The problem is that your body can confuse certain plastics for estrogen, which can clog up and interfere with the receptor sites.
These plastic "estrogens", or xenoestrogens, are chemicals that behave like biological estrogens in the body. Along with kitchen items, you can also find them in deodorant, makeup, lotion, sunscreen, and other personal care products. Try to use as many CLEAN products as possible to avoid hormone disruption. I recommend the Skin Deep guide by the Environmental Working Group as a resource.
To further decrease your toxic load, it’s a good idea to leave windows cracked in your home, because the air quality in our homes tends to be worse than outdoor air. Also, make sure you change your air filter every 3 months, or as recommended. Healthy hormones definitely rely on a healthy environment.
Try to get some fresh air daily, and go outside for a walk as often as possible. Walking is a great way to relieve stress, and stress reduction supports healthy hormone production.
HOW TO TEST YOUR HORMONES
If you’re wondering how to measure your hormones, this can be done through urine, blood, and saliva, but I prefer DUTCH (Dried Urine Test for Comprehensive Hormones) to get the most accurate results.
From the moment you were born, your hormones have served as a critical part of your body’s communication system and play a significant role in the quality of your life. Hormone issues can be a result of many factors such as chronic stress, poor diet, bad digestion, sluggish detoxification, a toxic environment, lack of sleep, and many others.
If you are having issues, it’s VERY important that you work with a practitioner that helps you uncover the root cause of your hormone concerns. A real long-term solution should include a testing schedule, clinical nutrition, supplementation, and a lifestyle strategy customized to meet your specific needs.
To learn more about hormones, and how to elevate your life and health, check out The WELLthy Woman Lifestyle Guide.