We often think about them only when it comes to our period and PMS but your hormones are responsible to regulate your hunger signals, metabolism, digestion, daily mood, energy levels, sleep patterns, body temperature, skin and hair health, and well, much more!
What are hormones and how do they work?
Hormones are your body’s chemical messengers. Our bodies secrete about 50 hormones and they are responsible for everything we feel, including hunger, satiety, temperature, libido, and even energy! The female sex hormones, estrogen, and progesterone are the most popular because they directly influence your period, fertility, menopause, and more. This is why sometimes you might be feeling extra tired right around your period, even if you have had adequate sleep! Hormones travel in your bloodstream to tissues or organs to help them do their work.
Your hormones could go off balance and lead to serious complications like diabetes, weight gain or loss, infertility, weak bones, PMS, PMDD, irregular periods, loss of libido, acne, rosacea, fatigue, mood swings, and more! Basically, you will most definitely FEEL if your hormones are off-balance.
Here are 7 reasons for you to focus on promoting a hormonal balance.
1. Digestion, immune support, and gut.
We all learned this year that in order to have a healthy and strong immune system we must take care of our gut, but it turns out off-balanced hormones can impact the microbiome in your gut, leading to symptoms like bloating, diarrhea, or nausea. This can also be making you depressed and/or anxious because we have more neurotransmitters in our gut than in our brains! So yea, your mood is linked.
High progesterone levels contribute to inhibition of bowel motility and cause constipation, and if your hormones are off, you might experience constipation particularly right before your period.
2. Weight management and cravings.
Eating super clean, working out but not losing weight? Your hormones might be the cause! When we go into low-carb or low-fat diets we put our body into distress by depriving it of essential nutrients, especially if we add to our restrictive eating regimen a heavy workout routine. Our bodies perceive hunger as stress, so our stress hormones get triggered when we don't eat enough. That leads our bodies to store more fat, especially around our belly as a defense mechanism.
On the other hand, if you eat an unbalanced diet, high in sugar and refined foods, your body can develop insulin resistance which leads to the development of type 2 diabetes, memory decline, and microvascular and macrovascular complications. 415 million people live with diabetes worldwide, and an estimated 193 million people have undiagnosed diabetes.
If you suffer from a hormonal imbalance, you might notice fatigue, cravings, weight gain, metabolic syndrome, and more.
3. Sleep deprivation
Sleep problems can be linked to an imbalance in your hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis, your central stress response system, where your endocrine system and central nervous system speak to each other. The HPA axis is also responsible for regulating the sleep-wake cycle by releasing hormones, such as melatonin and cortisol. Melatonin works on the part of the brain that controls our circadian rhythm, which is your body's internal clock. If your body cannot make melatonin, you might find it hard to feel sleepy or even stay asleep.
4. Fatigue, tiredness, and energy regulation.
If you ever felt super tired or fatigued you should be able to recover with a balanced diet, enough rest, and proper hydration, but if despite your health habits you are still feeling drained, you might be suffering from a hormonal imbalance. Because of our hectic never-ending race kind of life, we might develop adrenal fatigue and hypothyroidism.
5. Stress and anxiety
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year.
Women are more prone to anxiety and depression because we have a different type of hormone fluctuations throughout the month, female hormones contribute to a more easily activated, longer-acting fight-or-flight response, we actually tend to cope differently with stress than men.
Estrogen calms the fear response and anxiety in both humans and rodents. If your estrogen levels are low you are more prone to anxiety and stress.
6. Skin and Hair Health
Women naturally produce male hormones (androgens). Elevated levels of androgens, can cause fine hair follicles to produce larger, darker thick hair, which leads to hirsutism (most often due to a disorder called polycystic ovary syndrome - PCOS)
Androgens also regulate your skin’s sebum production. If your body produces androgens in excess, sebum can build up in your pores and cause breakouts. If you developed adult acne out of nowhere or after leaving or going into birth control, this is a common sign of a hormonal imbalance.
Your hair's health is also directly related to your hormones. Thyroid abnormalities, for example, may cause dry hair or skin, thinning hair, or brittle nails. Hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and parathyroid disorder can also cause hair loss.
7. Bonding and sex drive
Not feeling hot or turned on for sex lately? Low testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone are all associated with a decreased sex drive in women. Hormones also play a role in your sense of closeness and bonding with others. This is regulated by oxytocin also known as the love hormone. It helps mothers with early attachment with their babies, as well as the bonds between romantic partners.
So, girl, the list can just keep going, but I hope this was enough for you to understand the importance of your hormonal balance and health! Without our hormones, our life, feelings, and emotions would be off whack, not to mention our physical health. In order to maintain your hormones naturally in line, you need to have a healthy lifestyle, including balance around your nutrition, physical activity, sleep, and mental wellbeing.