9 Hormonal Imbalance Signs Everyone Should Know

“It’s a hormone imbalance.”

It’s common to hear that these days, but what does that actually mean, and how do you know if your hormones are off?

Hormones are chemicals that work as messengers in your body. The endocrine gland produces hormones that travel around the bloodstream, delivering messages that tell your organs and tissue what to do.

Hormonal imbalances occur when there is too much or too little of a hormone in the bloodstream. These hormones affect each other, so a small imbalance in one hormone can throw others off as well.

Because of their essential role in the body, even small hormonal imbalances can cause side effects throughout the body.

Hormones actually control many of the body’s major processes like metabolism, reproduction, heart rate, sleep, growth, mood, and temperature.

Both men and women are affected by imbalances in insulin, steroids, growth hormones, and adrenaline.

On top of that, women experience imbalances in estrogen and progesterone levels, although they have testosterone too and can have issues with that.

So women can suffer hormone imbalances related to puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, menopause, and other factors including:

 

Having one or more of these conditions gives you good reason to keep hormone health in mind.

It may still be hard to tell what’s going on. With so many hormones at play, let’s look at nine symptoms of hormone imbalances that everyone should know.

1. Constant Exhaustion

Fatigue is a common symptom with many potential underlying causes.

Working hard and living with high levels of stress will cause burnout, so how do you tell the difference?

First, burnout can actually throw your hormones off, so even if you can pinpoint a root cause to your symptoms, that doesn’t mean that you don’t need to see a doctor.

Chronic fatigue despite getting eight hours of sleep can be a sign that your hormones are off balance. Everybody feels tired sometimes, but if it’s a constant, it’s time to look into your hormones.

Too much progesterone will make you feel like sleeping more. Too little, and you might suffer from insomnia.

Another cause of exhaustion is low thyroid hormone levels, called hypothyroidism, and it’s easily diagnosed with a blood test.

If your levels are low, a prescription medication will bring your levels back up to normal.

A blood test will also reveal if you’re anemic instead, meaning you have low iron in your blood. So it’s always a good idea to have a doctor visit.

Good sleep hygiene helps to balance your body and hormones. That involves have a regular bedtime all week, and avoiding things that might disrupt sleep such as alcohol, caffeine, and exercise late in the day.

 

2. Brain Fog and Trouble Concentrating

“Brain fog” is linked to many different issues. Thyroid disease is one factor, which can be tested and treated.

Although not hormone related, some people with food allergies or a wheat intolerance will have trouble concentrating—sometimes the allergy symptoms don’t seem bad until added together.

Food allergies and sensitivities cause brain fog, skin rashes, asthma, and stomach problems.

If you’re not experiencing those symptoms with your brain fog, it might be hormone related.

Women in perimenopause and after menopause report more memory problems and have trouble concentrating.

Declining estrogen levels are partly to blame, but there’s other things at play too.

Perimenopausal and post-menopausal women often have trouble sleeping, hot flashes, and increased depression, and these contribute to brain fog.

If declining estrogen levels are causing your brain fog, hormone replacement therapy can offer some relief and restore balance.

 

3. Stubborn Adult Acne

Even adults get acne, and women especially do around their menstrual cycle.

If acne is a regular issue, your body might be producing too many androgens, which causes oil glands to work overtime and that clogs your pores.

When a woman’s androgen receptors are particularly sensitive, these hormones can trigger excess oil production and cause skin cells to become sticky, leading to clogged pores and breakouts.

Facial peels can help with that, and managing stress and your diet can help with hormone issues. Refined carbs, sugar, and dairy are linked to adult acne.

For years, doctors have prescribed the birth control pill for to balance hormones, but the issue isn’t always low estrogen. Testosterone also affects sebum production too.

The pill has side effects for some, and others don’t want to switch their birth control. So talk to your doctor about all of your options.

 

4. Stomach Problems

The gut is lined with receptors that respond to estrogen and progesterone, so the two hormones that affect females and adult acne can cause stomach issues as well.

When these two hormones are off, it can cause diarrhea, stomach pain, bloating, and nausea. You might notice these symptoms around your period.

If you have fatigue and acne along with stomach problems, it can indicate a hormone issue. Several things can cause those symptoms, so talk to your doctor about it.

Diet of course affects the gut lining as well, so diet can hurt your intestinal wall leading to Leaky Gut Syndrome. That causes inflammation, acne, and a host of vague health problems.

Because diet affects our hormones in different ways, it’s important to start there when balancing hormones.

 

5. Thyroid Symptoms

The thyroid gets a lot of press for a tiny, butterfly-shaped gland in the front of the neck. It produces hormones that control the speed of your metabolism so it affects how the body uses energy.

Thyroid disorders can slow down or speed up your metabolism, so it does have a big impact on your weight.

Thyroid hormones affect nearly every organ in the body, including how quickly the heart beats.

The symptoms change changed on if your thyroid is over working or under working.

Hypothyroidism causes a slower than usual heart rate while hyperthyroidism causes a faster heart rate, along with increased blood pressure and even a pounding heart or palpitations.

These disorders change your energy level and mood. Hypothyroidism makes people tired, sluggish, and depressed.

Hyperthyroidism causes anxiety, problems sleeping, restlessness, and irritability.

An enlargement in the neck is a visible clue that something’s up with your thyroid, and your doctor can run a simple blood test to check your levels if you’re experiencing any symptoms.

An important note: if you’re struggling with stubborn weight, acne, and exhaustion, check your soy intake. Drinking soy milk can affect your hormones and create symptoms that seem like thyroid issues, except you won’t test positive.

Soy is many foods, so even if you don’t drink soy, it’s a good idea to check labels to see if you’re ingesting enough to cause hormone problems.

 

6. Weight Issues

Many people struggle with their weight all their life, resisting cravings for food and doing sports; others are slim without any particular effort.

Why is that? Hormones are one culprit of this injustice.

As mentioned above, something might be off with your thyroid hormones, or you may be getting too much soy in your diet.

Sudden weight gain or loss without a reason is a good reason to see your doctor.

Hormone related weight gain can happen over time, but it’s stubborn weight that you can’t lose even as you diet and exercise more.

 

7. Hair Loss or hair growing in unwanted places

Excessive hair loss is one of the most common symptoms of a hormone imbalance, and can mean your thyroid hormones may be out of balance.

Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can cause hair to fall out, so a doctor will need to check which is causing the hair loss.

Hair will usually grow back once the imbalance is treated.

On the flip side, hormones can also cause dark hair on the breasts, face, hands, or other parts of the body. This can indicate a serious imbalance.

 

8. Mood Swings and/or Depression

Depression can be another symptom of hormonal imbalance. Anxiety and depression can occur just before a woman’s menstrual cycle, during pregnancy, and in menopause.

In the case of more frequent anxiety attacks, talk to an endocrinologist. Researchers think drops in hormones or fast changes in their levels can cause moodiness and the blues.

Estrogen affects key brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. But other hormones that travel the same paths as neurotransmitters also play a part in how you feel.

 

9. Headaches

A variety of things may trigger headaches, but a decrease in estrogen levels is a common cause in women. If headaches occur routinely at the same time every month, just prior to or during a period, declining estrogen may be the trigger.

If hormonal headaches are particularly bad, your doctor may prescribe birth control pills to keep estrogen levels more stable throughout the cycle.

Eating right, exercising, avoiding stress, and getting adequate sleep help minimize PMS symptoms and headaches.

 

Additionally, Healthline shares that symptoms of a hormonal imbalance specific to women include:

When visiting your doctor, take a detailed health history, list of symptoms and medications you take, date of your last period, weight changes, and any other possibly related health items.

We have many different hormones at play, and different symptoms for different combinations of issues. Read more about hormones and how they affect your health, and what you can do to manage them, at www.powerofhormones.com.

 

Sources:

Medical News Today

“Women’s Health: 13 Hormone Imbalance Symptoms and Signs.” Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD. Onhealth.com

“How to treat Hormonal Ace With Birth Control.” Health.com

 

 

10 Ways to Lower cortisol

Cortisol is a natural hormone produced by your body, so we shouldn’t try to completely eradicate it.

Its job is to focus your mind and stop your body’s routine functions from bothering you during high-stress situations. Normally, cortisol is necessary and important for a healthy lifestyle.

However, too much cortisol on a continued basis has terrible consequences for your body, which is where it gets its bad reputation.

Modern life is fast and stressful, and as a result, cortisol over-exposure can:

Thankfully there are multiple ways and means of controlling cortisol production to live a more balanced life. Let’s go over 10 ways to lower your cortisol levels.

 

1. Get a good night’s sleep.

This one might seem obvious, but sleep is so critical to our health, and many people struggle with it.

Getting quality sleep, meaning having a good sleep schedule and getting enough sleep, can help control cortisol.

People who work the night shift often experience increased cortisol because they sleep during the day. Others wake often or go to bed at varying times.

Another issue is we go to bed with a racing mind.

Here are some tips for getting a great night’s sleep:

 

2. Calm your mind.

Ask people what they do with their time off and you’ll get many similar responses: catch up on chores, run errands, shop, make repairs on the home or car, spend time with friends, watch TV, etc.

These things aren’t inherently bad, but they don’t give you a chance to truly relax. We’re always busy, with a To-Do list that never ends.

When you go from activity to activity or work to home without giving yourself quality downtime, your brain can release cortisol.

Meditation and mindfulness are two of the main ways to ensure that you spend your downtime actually relaxing.

Be silent, still, and process your thoughts in a calm environment – make it some real “me time.”

You can start with just a few minutes of focused breathing in the morning or another time during the day when you have time. It can be especially helpful and calming to do during a break at work.

Beginning small makes it easier, and then you can build up on the time you meditate.

 

3. Keep active and moving.

When we hear the word “exercise,” most of us groan and imagine sweating in a gym for hours while not seeing results. It seems hard and intimidating but staying active doesn’t have to mean hours in the gym.

Try and find a way of moving around that you enjoy, like dancing, a brisk walk, or a favorite sport.

Don’t push yourself too hard! If your body is being pushed to the limit during a hard routine, this is stressful and raises your cortisol.

Instead try to find ways of keeping active that calm you down.

Cycling on a flat path around a lake with pretty scenery, for instance, is great exercise, enjoyable, and calming.

Harvard Health notes that, “Regular aerobic exercise will bring remarkable changes to your body, your metabolism, your heart, and your spirits. It has a unique capacity to exhilarate and relax, to provide stimulation and calm, to counter depression and dissipate stress.”

 

4. Maintain a healthy gut.

Digestive problems are never pleasant and can be both the cause and the result of stress.

IBS and indigestion are normally the result of dietary or lifestyle choices that can be addressed and managed.

These conditions are usually caused by “bad” bacteria taking over your gut and disrupting healthy digestion. The bacteria thrive off all the bad foods we eat, which is why sticking to that junk food is just going to exacerbate indigestion.

Poor diets tend to be sugary, acidic, fatty and starchy – good fuel for these disruptive bacteria, but bad news for healthy digestion.

This all results in a vicious cycle of higher cortisol levels, cravings, and a repeating process of discomfort and misery.

The most common way to combat these bacteria is with probiotics.

These can be acquired at most drug stores, and are usually taken once a day in the morning. They introduce healthy bacteria back into your system and aid in getting your body and its digestive processes back to normal.

You can help the healthy bacteria thrive and stabilize by doing away with  junk-food and replacing it with fiber, vegetables, protein, good clean fats, etc.

Good foods include garlic, leeks, and whole grains. Also try fruits, eggs, fish, beef – foods that are low-glycemic and made up of healthy fats and proteins.

Changing your diet can have a huge impact on your overall gut health and slash your cortisol levels.

 

5. Get more Omega 3 and cut Omega 6.

People usually associate Omega 3 with fish oils and improving brain function, but omega 3 can also help combat depression, cognitive diseases like dementia, and lower your cortisol levels.

Grass-fed beef and most fish are a great and tasty way of getting Omega 3.

Not everyone is aware that there’s good omega fats and bad—that’s because we get way too much of Omega 6 in the American diet.

Omega 6 fatty acids have the opposite effect of Omega 3s, and cause inflammation and higher cortisol levels.

They’re found in vegetable oils like sunflower and corn, as well as canola. Try alternatives like olive oil or 1-cal spray to cook that beef in.

Processed foods tend to have Omega 6 too, along with corn-fed beef. Eating more natural helps get more Omega 3s and improves your health, which helps with cortisol levels and how you deal with stress.

 

6. Learn to identify your stressors and change the way you think about them.

A study of 122 adults showed that dwelling on stressful events, particularly by writing about them, led to a rise in cortisol.

That’s not too surprising. This part might be: Writing about positive experiences, or just plans for the day, actually lowered these levels.

This goes to show that how we handle events in our lives—and the way we perceive them and churn them over in our minds—matters  to our overall stress levels and cortisol levels.

A great way to ensure that stressful events don’t come to dominate your psyche is to learn to recognize them.

Once you can spot stressors, it becomes possible to build a set of strategies that you can call on to combat negative thoughts and stop anxiety from snowballing.

Mindfulness and meditation are popular and proven ways of beginning this process.

Self-awareness and calming strategies mitigate against stressful thoughts and reduce stress and cortisol.

Multiple studies have proven this link, with one surveying 43 women following a mindfulness routine, showing the process of identifying and expressing stress directly correlated with a decrease in stress levels.

A similar study looked at 128 women who were suffering from breast cancer, and showed a clear reduction in stress among those participating in mindfulness sessions compared with those who adopted no such strategy.

In everyday life, we can identify stressors and try to see them as neither good or bad. Look for lessons or one positive outcome from something that doesn’t seem like a “good thing.”

Changing your reaction reduces stress and cortisol.

 

7. Take up a creative hobby like art or music.

Even if you don’t consider yourself a “creative” person, studies show that indulging in a relaxing and creative activity like painting for 45 minutes reduces cortisol levels.

You don’t have to create a masterpiece. It can be something expressive that you like. Adult coloring books are a new, fun trend that helps people relax and feel energized through being creative.

Experiment, create, try something new – that’s the aim of the game.

Ever wanted to try wood working? Writing? A new instrument? Has your son or daughter been nagging you to help them with a science project or building a model airplane?

These are all ways of reducing stress and cortisol, as well as opportunities for enriching experiences and achievements.

 

8. Interact with animals.

Numerous studies have proven that petting dogs and cats, as well as other types of animals, releases endorphins and oxytocin while reducing stress hormone levels.

Researchers have found that just twenty minutes of petting a dog is a much greater way to reduce stress than a similar period of just peace and quiet.

Getting your own dog, if you have the capability and facilities to look after one properly, is a great excuse to go for plenty of walks in nature, too – another proven reducer of cortisol.

But if owning a pet would be stressful for you or not possible, you can also play with a friend’s dog, cat, or other pet to reduce your cortisol levels.

 

9. Natural Supplements

There are many stress-relieving supplements available that use herbs and other natural ingredients. A few popular ones include:

Ashwagandha is an Asian herbal supplement that reduces levels of cortisol.

It’s a root from India that contains chemicals that have been said to reduce swelling and lower blood pressure, as well as boost the immune system and lower cortisol.

One study proved this in a double-blind test, showing significantly reduced cortisol and heart-rate, two of the main factors in stress.

 

L-Theanine is an amino acid found in green tea. L-Theanine can act as a shield against cortisol’s more harmful effects, and can help fight against memory loss and cognitive performance drops.

 

Phosphaditylserine (PS) is a common supplement for sufferers of Alzheimer’s disease, mainly because of its ability to slow memory loss and improve cognitive function.

Its benefits also extend to reducing cortisol levels, as well as tiredness, and symptoms of ADHD.

Numerous trials have been performed on Phosphaditylserine, and its effect on Alzheimer’s patients has been officially recognized by the FDA. This is a great one to take to reduce cortisol and stress.

Gingko Biloba Leaf Extract is another common supplement for sufferers of dementia.

Gingko leaf originates in Chinese medicine, and has long been proven to reduce blood pressure, and more importantly, levels of cortisol.

The leaf extract effectively suppresses your body’s ability to flood your system with cortisol, providing a key limit to its negative effects

 

Choline Bitartrate is found in common daily foods like eggs, dairy, and meat. It even occurs naturally in small doses in the human body. However, most people are somewhat deficient in it.

It’s long been considered a good way of improving memory, concentration, as well as reducing cortisol and associated stress and anxiety.

One study found that people with lower levels of choline had a higher chance of developing higher cortisol after events such as surgery.

Similar studies found that choline is able to reduce “oxidative stress” in asthma sufferers.

When taking supplements to help with stress, it’s still important to check for possible reactions with other drugs you’re taking, and watch for side effects. Even healthy, natural herbs can have limits to how much you should ingest.

 

10. Get more antioxidants into your diet.

Antioxidants are a great way to combat the physical symptoms of stress in your body, which in turn helps lower your cortisol levels.

You can get antioxidants from brightly colored fruits and berries such as blueberries, raspberries, grapes, cranberries, or Acai berries, an increasingly popular berry that has particularly high levels of both antochyanins and Vitamin C.

Studies have shown taking Vitamin C can decrease anxiety and improve your overall mood, and taking them after exercising is a great way to rapidly reduce cortisol.

Research shows that vitamin C, glutathione, and CoQ10 significantly reduce the amount of cortisol in your body, as well as relieving other factors related to stress.

Look for organic, colorful fruits and vegetables for more antioxidants.

Cortisol is just one of the hormones affecting your health. Learn more HERE 

 

References:

“5 Ways to lower cortisol levels and reduce stress.” Observer.com

Healthline.com

Lowering cortisol and CVD risk in postmenopausal women: a pilot study using the Transcendental Meditation program. Walton KG et al. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2004 Dec;1032:211–5.

Anticipatory sensitization to repeated stressors: the role of initial cortisol reactivity and meditation/emotion skills training. Pubmed.gov.

 

Can Hormones Slow Metabolism and Increase Fat Storage?

Weight gain. Cravings for sweet or salty foods. Blood sugar crashes. Slowed metabolism. Poor sleep quality. All of these undesirable symptoms can arise when our hormones become out of balance.

When our hormones are working in optimal harmony, we can naturally maintain a healthy metabolism, a functional appetite, and a healthy weight.

But when factors such as stress, genes, diet, health problems, and even injury throw them off balance, our hormones can wreak havoc on our wellbeing.

There are nine hormones that can literally make or break your ability to lose weight. How? By controlling your metabolism, hunger, and the ability to burn stored body fat.

If you are experiencing any of the problems listed above, this is a sure sign that one or more of these hormones might be out of balance:

 

1. Leptin, the “full” messenger.

Leptin is the hormone responsible for telling you when you’re full. It also plays a role in metabolism and helps your body to decide when to burn fat.

Fat cells release leptin into the blood, which travels to your brain and signals that you're full. This process works well until we introduce too much fructose, the sugar found in fruit and added to majority of processed foods.

Small amounts of fructose are fine and good for energy. But eating too much, even of fruit, can overload your liver.

The liver can't process the fructose fast enough, so it gets sent into the bloodstream as triglycerides. In other words, fat. Over time, these fatty deposits build up in the liver and around our bellies, hips, and thighs.

And as more fructose is turned to fat, leptin levels increase because fat produces leptin. This leads the body to become desensitized to leptin and its message that “you’re full”, meaning we keep eating and gaining weight.

It’s a vicious cycle! Given that fructose is rampant in modern Western diets, this is a huge problem that many women face.

Leptin production can also be affected by sleep quality and timing of food consumption before sleep. According to an article published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology, “sleep modulates a major component of the neuroendocrine control of appetite.”

When leptin gets out of balance, it can trigger a chain reaction affecting other hormones in your body such as cortisol. To support healthy leptin production, aim to reduce fructose in your diet and resist eating just before bed.

 

2. Cortisol, the stress hormone.

Cortisol is released in response to stress, in order to help your body to respond to perceived threats.

While it has its uses, cortisol becomes a problem in our bodies when it is over or under produced. This can occur as a result of chronic stress, a poor diet, or even from over-exercising.

Signs that your cortisol levels are abnormal can include:

High cortisol levels can suppress other normal bodily functions and lead to fat storage, muscle breakdown, and slowed metabolism.

The most effective way to reduce your cortisol levels, and its impact on your body, is to reduce stress. Low impact exercise and more sleep can also help.

And a note for coffee drinkers (sorry!)… Caffeine can raise cortisol levels, so if you’re struggling with stress or hormone-related issues, consider cutting back or choosing decaffeinated options.

 

3. Ghrelin, the hunger messenger.

While leptin tells you when you’re full, the hormone ghrelin lets you know when you’re hungry. At normal levels, it serves an important function, but too much ghrelin can make you crave foods and overeat.

Lack of sleep, stress, and other hormone imbalances can all lead to ghrelin spikes. If you’ve ever felt hungry when you’re stressed or close to your period, that’s a ghrelin spike.

Reproductive hormones raise ghrelin levels, and inevitably make it more difficult to maintain a balanced appetite and a healthy weight. If you find yourself continuously feeling hungry or craving certain foods, it’s important to check how your sex hormones are functioning.

 

4. Adiponectin, the protein hormone that regulates glucose levels.

Adiponectin helps the body to maintain normal glucose levels. It’s another important hormone involved in weight loss because it helps to regulate insulin levels and the breakdown of fat. Having optimal levels of this hormone reduces your chances of getting diabetes.

Adiponectin is anti-inflammatory in nature, so the body releases it in situations where you need to combat inflammation. This means that junk foods, highly acidic foods, or injuries can result in over exposure to adiponectin.

When this happens, your body is prevented from burning fat efficiently as it tries to combat the effects of increased adiponectin and restore balance.

 

5. Insulin, the fat trapper and blood sugar regulator.

Most people know this hormone through its reputation as being closely linked to diabetes. Its role in processing food, particularly sugar, makes it one of the most vital hormones in maintaining a healthy weight.

A high sugar diet, inactive lifestyle, sleep problems, and certain Hormonal disorders can cause insulin levels to rise to unsustainable levels, resulting in the body becoming insulin-resistant.

This is what leads to diabetes, as well as an impaired ability to burn away stored body fat as the fat becomes ‘trapped’ by insulin.

Symptoms of insulin resistance can include:

You can combat high insulin by reducing the amount of sugar, processed foods, and “beige” carbs in your diet. Try swapping them out for veggies and fruits, nuts and seeds, and increasing your intake of lean meats and other natural proteins.

 

6. Glucagon, the fat releaser hormone.

Glucagon is the opposite of insulin. While insulin traps fat in your tissues, glucagon releases it. Sounds great, right? However, the two hormones are closely interlinked, meaning that if one is off balance, the other has a harder time doing its job.

To have optimal glucagon levels, it’s essential that a healthy hormone balance is maintained, as well as a balanced diet and good quality of sleep.

 

7. Growth Hormone

This hormone keeps you young! It contributes toward muscle growth, gives you energy, and aids metabolism.

There’s a catch.

It’s only produced in what’s known as “stage 4 sleep,” or deep sleep.

That means that any factor that influences sleep also affects the production of growth hormone. When low levels of this hormone are sustained over time, this can effectively accelerate aging both inside and outside the body.

The usual suspects that can negatively impact hormones apply, such as diet, exercise, stress, and caffeine. However, sometimes there is a deeper underlying hormonal issue which needs to be addressed.

 

8. Testosterone, for healthy muscle and metabolism

We could discuss what testosterone does for men, but that’s a commonly covered topic. It’s not as common to talk about what testosterone does for women. Don’t be fooled—women need testosterone just as much as men do.

For both sexes, testosterone contributes towards healthy muscle growth and metabolism. If you’re suffering from low testosterone, you may be experiencing some of the following:

As women, we don’t want too much testosterone, but a healthy amount helps us to manage our weight and support optimal hormone functioning.

To help keep your testosterone levels in balance, try to exercise daily, even if it’s just a half hour walk. Maintaining a healthy sex life is also a good (and fun) way of raising testosterone levels.

Zinc-rich foods like whole grains, seafood, and nuts are also great for your testosterone levels, as well as getting a good night’s rest.

The bottom line is, it’s essential to have balanced levels of testosterone and estrogen, even though that’s not something that is normally addressed for women.

9. Estrogen, for healthy weight and insulin production.

Did you know that high estrogen levels can actually cause weight gain around your hips and thighs?

Estrogen is the primary female sex hormone and is essential for reproduction. However, it also helps to regulate body weight and is closely linked to insulin production. This means that an imbalance of estrogen can cause rapid weight gain.

An estrogen imbalance can interrupt the natural breakdown of energy by causing the body to store more glucose as fat, rather than sending it to the muscles to be burned as energy.

Here are some symptoms of having higher than normal estrogen:

Estrogen can be thrown off by a number of things, but when it comes to our diet, synthetic hormones in meat, processed foods, and pesticides can be a big factor.

These are basically toxins that your body treats like estrogen, and pose dangers when consumed in high enough quantities, as they can result in the development of estrogen-associated diseases like breast and ovarian cancers.

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t eat meat. It’s more about how the meat was raised. Look for organic, free-range meat products without hormones or antibiotics.

Also try introducing more fiber into your diet, which can help to flush these toxins from your system more efficiently. Fresh fruits like apples and melons are great as they contain a compound called “flavone” that helps suppress estrogen.

 

Are your hormones out of balance? A healthy diet and exercise can help, but sometimes more is required to regain optimal hormone balance and look & feel your best.

When thinking about managing and balancing hormones, many of the same things can help:

Good sleep, plenty of water, a healthy diet with good fats, and avoiding chemicals in your food.

However, sometimes despite our best efforts, we still feel like something’s “not right”.

It might be that no matter what you try, you just can’t lose any weight. Maybe you’re constantly feeling exhausted, low, scatterbrained, or unable to sleep. Maybe you have noticed that your skin and hair is appearing dull, blotchy, and aged.

If this is the case, you are not alone. You may have underlying hormone imbalance problems that are preventing you from being your most healthy, vibrant self.

To find out how to overcome these problems and achieve optimal balance, continue to powerofhormones.com to find out more.

 

 

References:

“Hormones and Weight Gain.” Christina Carlyle.

“How to Turn Off Your Weight Gain with Hormones” Sara Gottfied, MD

 

How Stress Affects Your Health

In today’s world, we live with constant stress. It’s a reaction that’s helpful in the short run, but chronic stress is hurting our health. Specifically, the way we deal with stress is causing long-term health issues.

What is stress exactly? We tend to see it as something that affects us, but the reality is stress is our reaction to things in our environment and mind.

Something happens, we feel a threat, and we have a reaction—that threat might be physical danger or even the threat of looking bad in front of others.

Stress causes us to release hormones that help us deal with stressful situations. In an acute situation, stress puts us into action mode so we can survive, stay safe, and take action when needed.

For instance, if you see someone yelling at another person on the street, your stress level shoots up, and you become super focused, aware of your surroundings, and ready to either run away or step in and do something.

In another situation, your boss calls you into their office, and you can tell right away that you’ve done something wrong.

Here, your higher stress level might work against you. You can’t “fight” or “flee,” but must listen calmly and devise action steps to correct a problem.

 

The Issue: Constant Stress

With acute stress, we feel relief once we’re safe or the problem is fixed.

With chronic stress, we never put that anxiety down.

We stress about if we’re performing well enough at work, if we’re in danger of losing our job, if there could be cutbacks in pay, if our children are doing well, if we’re good parents... The list of things to stress over can be endless.

We might even stress about the economy due to what we read and see about our president—this has actually been documented!

The sad fact about this kind of stress is how we’re worried about things out of our control. Even if our stress is job related, it’s often over something that we can affect but not control.

We can put in our best effort, but that doesn’t guarantee a raise.

You see, we stress about many situations that we can’t change, and that causes more worry and stress that we can’t solve.

None of that is new information, but we’re learning more and more about how exactly stress hormones affect our health.

 

What Stress is Doing To Us

Cortisol, the main stress hormone, has a direct impact on our entire hormonal system. That means it affects the thyroid and all the hormones it produces, it affects insulin and our blood sugar levels, and it even affects sex hormones which control our sex drive and much more.

Stress doesn’t simply trigger one hormone. We experience higher levels of glucocorticoids, catecholamines, growth hormones, and prolactin. All of these have even more effects on us.

We’re busy keeping up with modern life, living on the go, multitasking, exercising and dieting even when we’re exhausted, and battling stress from all angles.

Many people are fighting several vague health problems, feeling drained and sick, and confused about what’s going on and how they can feel better.

Living with high cortisol levels makes it even harder for your body to produce serotonin, which makes you feel good and balances your mood.

The truth is, if you want to balance your hormones to improve your overall health, you need to start by managing your stress.

In a study called “Stress Hormones and Immune Function,” Jeanette Webster Marketon and Ronald Glaserac explained that stress has detrimental effects on our immune function, including:

“Reactivation of latent viral infections” is when people get a cold sore triggered by stress.

They shared, “Such effects on the immune system have severe consequences on health which include, but are not limited to, delayed wound healing, impaired responses to vaccination, and development and progression of cancer. These data provide scientific evidence of the effects of stress on immune function and implications for health.”

It might shock some to see stress linked to cancer. We so often look to environmental factors, i.e. something outside of the body causing harm.

But stress causes us to produce certain hormones, and the role of hormones is to cause change in the body. Cancer is in fact the uncontrolled overgrowth of certain cells, so it makes sense that hormones play a role in that.

When we think about stress throwing off hormones levels and causing growth hormone changes, it’s easy to see how stress damages our cells and bodies.

Researchers Salam Ranabir and K. Reetu studied how stress causes diseases like Graves Disease, gonadal dysfunction, psychosexual dwarfism, and obesity.

Stress activates the pituitary-adrenal axis and releases catecholamines. This leads to increased cardiac output, skeletal muscle blood flow, sodium retention, and many other processes.

Our thyroid function lowers during stressful conditions because stress inhibits thyroid-stimulating hormone secretion through the action of glucocorticoids on the central nervous system.

Many people experience thyroid problems, including weight issues. We’ve been looking at diet and activity level, which are also important, but the picture isn’t complete without looking at stress levels.

 

Stress and Obesity

Higher cortisol levels cause central fat deposition, meaning we store fat around the waistline.

Cortisol also causes a decrease in the adipostatic signal leptin and an increase in the orexogenic signal ghrelin, and these two changes cause increased appetite and more eating.

For people living thousands of years ago, this helped them survive. If they experienced stress in the fall because they worried about winter food stores, they would hold onto as much fat as possible.

Today, this reaction is causing obesity.

Salam Ranabir and K. Reetu concluded their study “Stress and Hormones,” by saying:

“In today's competitive modern world one encounters stress in various aspects of life. As an adaptive response to stress, there is a change in the serum level of various hormones including CRH, cortisol, catecholamines and thyroid hormone. These changes may be required for the fight or flight response of the individual to stress. However, long-term exposure to stress may lead to many deleterious consequences leading to various endocrine disorders.”

 

The Mayo Clinic warns that chronic stress puts your health at risk.

Long-term overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones disrupt almost all your body's processes, putting you at higher risk for:

 

We can’t always escape stress, so the Mayo Clinic advises to manage stress by:

People experience stress differently and find different things to work, so trying many ways to manage stress can help you find the way that works and provide different tools.

 

The Effect of Stress on Women

On top of stress wrecking havoc on our health through hormones, it affects men and women differently.

The Huffington Post shared that the “fight or flight” response that we’ve heard about for decades is more of a male response.

Stress studies in the past studied mostly men, and it was assumed that males and females would experience stress and respond the same way.

However, the article, “Men Respond to Stress with ‘fight or flight’ while Women ‘Ten and Befriend,’” shares how researchers in Australia found that men respond to stressful situations more aggressively than women.

Women tend to diffuse a situation and seek social support.

That might lead you to wonder if stress affects women less than men, but the opposite is true. We’re learning that “acute and chronic stress may take a greater toll on women’s physical and mental health,” according to many new studies cited in an article from the Huffington Post.

Cortisol causes a temporary increase in energy production at the cost of other bodily process not required for immediate survival, like digestion or immune function.

Women in particular are affected in ways that lead to both short and long term health problems including reduced sex drive, irregular periods, acne, hair loss, and digestive problems.

Some women experience stomach issues that lead to poor appetite, nutrition deficiencies, and weight loss. Others gain weight that they can’t seem to lose no matter what they try.

Research is now linking higher cortisol levels decreased metabolism in women, increased appetite, sugar cravings, and lower waist-to-hip ratios, meaning more weight around the stomach.

Women will eat right, exercise, and do other things to take care of themselves. Yet they can’t lose weight. Instead, they may even continue to gain weight.

Stress can lead to depression. Women are twice as likely to suffer stress-induced depression as men, and new research is showing this is probably due to the different ways that women react to stress.

Stress is believed to account for 30% of all infertility problems.

Symptoms can be more than just irregular periods. Stress causes a suppression of circulating gonadotropins and gonadal steroid hormones, and that leads to the disruption of the menstrual cycle. Prolonged exposure to stress can completely impair reproductive function.

Women with high levels of a stress-related enzyme called alpha-amylase have a harder time getting pregnant. Stress can even cause spasms in the fallopian tubes and uterus.

Women also Experience Stress-related Heart Disease and Stroke.

Historically, we think that men suffer heart attacks due to stress while women don’t.

The truth is, we haven’t understood how women experience stress or heart attack symptoms.

Women living with high stress levels are 40% more likely to experience a heart attack or stroke.

Stress is not a problem “for another day” or something you have to live with uncontrolled.

Because stress affects everyone, we have resources online, at the community level, and professional help.

Many tools for managing stress help you step away and put down your worries for a while, such as having fun, getting absorbed in a hobby or activity, meditating, reading, or being mindful about taking a day off from thinking about work and responsibilities.

We’re not made to carry everything all of the time, so taking some time or a day for just you and enjoying life is a critical aspect of your health.

 

Find more information about how to deal with stress and balance your hormones at www.powerofhormones.com.

References:

“Stress and hormones.” Salam Ranabir, K. Reetu. Indian J Endocrinol Metab. 2011 Jan-Mar; 15(1): 18–22. doi: 10.4103/2230-8210.77573

“Examination stress affects plasma levels of TSH and thyroid hormones differently in females and males.” Johansson, G., Laakso, M.-L., Karonen, S.-L., & Peder, M Psychosomatic Medicine, 49(4), 390-396.

“10 Ways Stress Affects Women’s Health.” Carolyn Gregoire. Huffington Post.

Bouchez, C. (2018). Stress and Infertility. WebMD. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/infertility-and-reproduction/features/infertility-stress#1

“Stress hormones and immune function.” Jeanette I. Webster Marketon. Ronald Glaserac. Cellular Immunology. Volume 252.

How to Manage Stress

It is a sad fact that over 8 million Americans said they experienced “serious psychological distress” in 2017 alone.

The World Labor Report, produced by the U.N.’s International Organization, states, “Stress has become one of the most serious health issues of the 20th century and a worldwide epidemic.”

Stress is the perception that too much demands have been put on us. In other words, we stress when we feel overwhelmed, feel that we can’t keep up, feel that we can’t fix problems, or we can’t perform to expectations.

Stress can build up, so it starts as a simmer and builds to a boil before we notice how distressed we’ve become.

In some cases, when we stress about something we think we can’t fix, it can lead to depression.

Living with a high level or constant stress wreaks havoc on your overall health, and throws your hormones out of balance. That leads to all kinds of problems that don’t intuitively seem connected to stress.

Because stress affects every health system—mental, emotional, physical, and hormonal—managing stress is a critical starting point in taking care of ourselves.

The key to dealing with stress is managing it, not trying to avoid it.

The Gale Encyclopaedia of Medicine states that stress management is a “set of techniques and programs intended to help people deal more effectively with stress in their lives by analyzing the specific stressors and taking positive actions to minimize their effects.”

Hans Selye put it right when he said, “It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.”

 

Let’s focus on how to change our reaction to stress to better manage it.

You can learn many tools for managing stress, such as grounding, meditation, yoga, exercise, and the Four As, which I’ll explain soon.

Once you have a toolbox full of methods, you can pick and use or use several at a time. Knowing that you can manage stress is a huge stress-reliever!

The following stress management tips can help you do that, and we’ll start with some quick fixes to help right in the moment and then move on to more long-term solutions.

 

When you need relief right now

Acute stress is when something happens and throws you right off kilter, such as getting fired or into a heated argument.

If you’re under ongoing stress, something small might even trigger acute stress and trigger panic.

When that happens, you can try grounding, which is tapping into your senses to calm yourself.

To start, take a deep, slow breath.

Now notice five things you can see around you.

Next list four things you can hear.

Then notice what you taste.

What can you smell?

Finally, what can you feel or touch?

By grounding yourself in your physical environment, you pull your mind away from what’s stressing you.

 

Get moving

Being stressed reduces motivation for physical activity – but getting active can greatly reduce stress in a relatively small amount of time.

The benefits of exercise aren’t there solely to be reaped by athletes or gym regulars either, anyone can enjoy the endorphins that are released when taking part in physical activity.

The mind also tends to focus on demanding tasks like exercise, taking the emphasis away from the causes of your stress.

The optimum amount of time to spend exercising is anything over half an hour, at least semi-regularly. But don’t feel pressured to dive straight in at this, it’s ok to build up slowly.

The smallest changes to your lifestyle can accumulate and get you moving, which is the most important thing.

Some examples of these small changes would be:

 

Take good care of yourself

Exercising is a great way to reduce stress, but there are plenty of other ways to look after your body which can help build up a resistance to stress.

Cut out Caffeine and Sugar.

Grabbing a coffee or guzzling a sugary energy drink might seem like a great way to get some energy and power through a stressful day, but their effects are short and fleeting – and when they end, you crash.

The insulin surge that results from eating or drinking these things can give you mood swings and actually sap your energy, making stress worse.

If you can resist the sugary snacks and cut out the coffee, you’ll really feel the difference.

 

Avoid narcotics, tobacco, and alcohol.

In a similar way to sugar and caffeine, these substances can be tempting as a method of self-medication.

But like chocolate or a double espresso, a bottle of wine or cigarette is a fleeting escape from stress, and the after effects can only make the situation worse.

 

Eat a healthy diet.

Eating a balanced diet with the right amount of fiber, nutrients and vitamins will help your body function better.

Your mind is a part of your body, so how you fuel that body has a direct impact on your brain’s ability to function at its best. So remember to eat a good breakfast and try to eat balanced and healthy meals for the rest of the day.

 

Make sure you get a good night’s sleep.

A lack of sleep has devastating effects on your mind and body and can escalate stress. Had a hard day?

Get an early night – switch off your phone, and put your worries to bed, ready to address them on a new day.

 

Try to relax.

Feeling rushed off your feet can be a distraction from something that’s bothering you but be careful not to burn out.

Take some time to stop and chill out. Meditating for five, ten, or fifteen minutes is very effective for busting stress and feeling centered.

Have some fun, organize a game night, take a walk, arrange to have lunch with a friend during the week.

Try to “live in the moment” – training your brain to stop turning over worries that can be saved for work time is a great way to get a work-life balance.

 

Disconnect

Many will argue that we have more stress than ever. I’ll say again that’s about managing emotions...

And one way to do that is to disconnect.

If you leave work but anyone from work can call, text, or email you, then you aren’t free from work.

The fact is: anyone in your life or even a stranger can reach you at any time.

You might see a tweet that upsets you, or get an email, or a text, or see someone’s Facebook post that bothers you.

We love our phones, but those devices also are an open portal of stress.

When was the last time you had four hours to yourself where no one could throw you off balance or interrupt? What about a full day? Or even a weekend?

When working, if anyone can interrupt you (as in a beep on your phone that you check) then you never get to deep focus. You get less done and it takes longer.

Try this out: take some time at least once a week where you disconnect. Put your phone away.

Or get an app that will turn off notifications except for phone calls so true emergencies can get through. (You can go to settings and swipe a switch to turn off notifications from Facebook and other apps.)

Use that time to take care of yourself.

And I know many people are worried about missing something important or a call they really need to take.

So keep your phone on, and turn down the volume on notifications. Don’t check it at every little noise. Have timed check points, like every hour or half hour when you check for anything important.

During work time or when you want to focus (or disconnect) wait longer in between checks.

That puts the power back in your hands instead of being at the mercy of anyone who wants to reach out to you.

 

Use The Four As For Managing Stress

The Mayo Clinic has a “Four A’s” system to manage stress: Avoid, Alter, Adapt, and Accept.

Let’s take a closer look at each and how it can help you manage stress.

 

Avoid

The majority of things that stress us out in everyday life can often be simply avoided. You just need to follow a few simple rules.

 

Alter

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by events, stop and take stock of what’s going on – and see if there are behaviors you can change.

 

Accept

Some things can’t and won’t change, and instead of railing against the world for the way things are, just accept that some things are beyond your control. In these instances, try the following.

 

Adapt

Surrenduring to stress, the “I can’t cope” mentality, is a vicious cycle. Adapting seeks to reevaluate the parameters you use to measure the world around you, and so reduce the stress induced when things don’t meet your expectations.

 

Managing stress is a huge step forward for your health and balancing your hormones.

Find more information on stress management, how it affects your health, and how your hormones can be a huge help in improving your health as well at www.powerofhormones.com.

 

 

References:

The Mayo Clinci

“More Americans suffering from stress, anxiety, and depression, study finds.” 2018.

“Workplace Stress.” 2018

Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal Fatigue is one of those conditions that some people will call “fake.” That’s because it can be hard to explain to others, and it’s not a commonly known disease like cancer.

With Adrenal Fatigue, you feel constantly tired even when you get enough sleep. You crave salty foods. You’re achy.

But your doctors say it’s in your head or you’re simply getting older. Or, your doctor just doesn’t know what’s wrong.

Adrenal fatigue occupies a pretty grey area when it comes to medicine and science. “Alternative” medicines may provide a diagnosis where conventional medicine offers no answers.

For example, there is no approved way of testing for the condition, as blood tests are unable to detect meaningful shifts in adrenal function.

Despite that, there is solid science backing up this condition. Even if “Adrenal Fatigue” isn’t a true medical condition, the symptoms are real, and there are different underlying conditions that can be treated.

When you’re stressed, your body responds to this condition in a variety of ways.

One of these ways is by slowing down your immune system – that’s why you’re more likely to get sick when you’re under pressure or feeling run down.

Meanwhile, your adrenal glands release a hormone called cortisol in response to stress. In normal doses, cortisol does an important job, but chronic stress can elevate cortisol levels to unhealthy amounts.

This can throw off your heart and your blood pressure.

“Adrenal fatigue” is a term that’s been around for twenty years, when a naturopath called James Wilson described the condition as a “group of related signs and symptoms (a syndrome) that results when the adrenal glands function below the necessary level.”

Wilson believes the condition to be brought on primarily through stress, but factors such as infections like flu and pneumonia also play a role.

Some of the symptoms he lists are vague, including feeling gray or tired, and craving salty snacks.

 

A Rose by any other name...

Or, more specifically, a condition by other names, is still treatable.

The medical community doesn’t recognize Adrenal Fatigue, but it acknowledges two forms of “adrenal insufficiency” or formally Addison’s Disease.

It refers to inadequate production of hormones as a result of an underlying disease. As you can see, it’s a bit complicated. It sounds like the same disease with the same symptoms:

 

Because of the nature of the condition, there is no recognized or definitive list of symptoms. Depending on your stage of fatigue, you could be experiencing just a small number, or several of the following symptoms:

 

This list of symptoms is intimidating, and has led many to make the claim that the adrenal glands and their ability to function properly are impacted by chronic stress.

Things start to venture more into the realms of alternative medicine when the theory goes on to blame this response on the inability of the glands to keep up with a consistent state of fight-or-flight.

Like diabetics who become resistant to their own body’s insulin, believers in adrenal fatigue think that the glands aren’t producing the right amounts of hormones to counteract stress and anxiety.

Blood tests are unable to check for this kind of sensitivity so the jury remains out on this one.

It’s undoubtedly a frustrating situation to be in when your doctor isn’t able to provide a solution to such a long and taxing list of unpleasant symptoms.

Let’s take a closer look at the symptoms.

 

1. Difficulty Getting Up Each Morning, Even After A Long Sleep

Poor quality or not enough sleep is a major cause of adrenal fatigue. If you think you’re suffering from AF, getting more sleep is a good start to recovery.

However, if your other symptoms are consistent with Adrenal Fatigue, you can wake up feeling “grey” and tired despite all the hours you’ve just rested.

This is caused by one of two things.

First, and most obviously: stress. When the body experiences stress it triggers a reaction that releases a hormone called cortisol. This hormone helps calm you down, but when thrown off balance by consistent or chronic stress, there can be numerous side effects, including fatigue and poor quality sleep.

The second cause is low blood sugar.

People who have been suffering from adrenal fatigue for a longer period of time may also experience lower blood sugar – a knock-on effect from imbalanced cortisol – that can in turn cause you to wake up because your body is hungry.

 

2. Fatigue Every Day

It’s very common for sufferers of Adrenal fatigue to feel constantly drained. Some blame it on age alone, but again, chronic stress is an exhausting thing to go through.

If you’re turning to caffeine to get through the day, you may be making things worse than they need to be. Without solving the root cause, you’re just patching a sinking ship.

What adrenal fatigue means is that your glands become exhausted, and find themselves unable to produce and release enough of the right hormones to keep your body ticking over.

What this means is that your cortisol levels, alongside neurotransmitters such as adrenaline and norepinephrine are out of balance.

This drop in hormone levels is the reason many sufferers complain of constant tiredness. Switching diet and making some other lifestyle changes can go a long way to helping your glands recover.

As well as this, trying to reduce the amount of stress you find yourself under can also work wonders, as it reduces the demand for cortisol in your system.

3. Inability To Handle Stress

Everybody responds differently to stress, but people suffering from adrenal fatigue will have a particularly poor response to it.

Again, we can blame it on those depleted hormones running through your system. We rely on our adrenal glands to release these hormones in response to stress, so when they fall short and can’t flood our systems with those hormones, we sometimes find it difficult to cope.

A drop in enthusiasm for life, apathetic attitudes and irritability and anxiety are all common complaints among sufferers of adrenal fatigue.

Thankfully there are lots of ways to deal with the condition. Alongside diet and exercise, try meditation and mindfulness, and don’t be afraid to try things like essential oils.

 

4. Cravings For Salty Foods

There is a particular part of the adrenal glands – the “cortex”, which produces a substance called “aldosterone”.

This interacts with the kidneys and contributes towards the processing of fluid and mineral excretions. When the adrenal glands become fatigued, our ability to produce this hormone, along with others, becomes diminished.

As a result, lots of important minerals get lost when we go to the bathroom, because our body is struggling to determine what to keep and what to throw away.

This has the knock-on effect of throwing off levels of other minerals in our body, like sodium, potassium, and magnesium. Our bodies respond to this by flooding our minds with cravings for foods that can replace the minerals we’ve lost – this usually manifests in cravings for salty foods.

So if you’ve recently experienced a spike in the amount of salty food you want, you might be suffering from adrenal fatigue.

 

5. Higher Energy Levels In The Evenings

Experiencing an unexplained spike in energy in the evenings, especially after having felt exhausted all day, is a common sign of adrenal fatigue.

This is because your cortisol levels will be consistently off-balance.

Normally, cortisol spikes in the morning and tapers off during the day, but when fatigued adrenal glands are giving you inconsistent spurts of cortisol, it can mean that the balance over-compensates in the evenings, leading to insomnia, poor quality sleep, and a vicious cycle that runs in circles.

 

6. Overuse Of Stimulants Like Sugar And Caffeine

Turning to coffee to get through the day, particularly when you’re feeling exhausted, is appealing. But developing a reliance on caffeine, and similar stimulants like sugar, is only making things much worse for your adrenal glands.

The trouble with these substances is that, like anything, your body builds up a resistance to the effects over time, meaning that higher doses are needed for ever more fleeting relief.

The nature of these energy boosts also comes at a cost. Caffeine and sugar are both widely recognized to be conducive to insomnia, especially when consumed near lights-out.

This is perhaps one of the easiest ways to give your adrenal glands a break.

By cutting down or preferably cutting out caffeine and sugar from your diet, you can start getting quality sleep and begin the process of balancing your hormones.

You don’t have to go cold turkey either – start slow if you need to. One coffee at a time, maybe with fewer grains each time – until you’re just on soft drinks all day (and not the sugary kind!). You can also swap up your diet and improve your sleep routines as a way of getting results.

 

7. A Weakened Immune System

One of the many functions that cortisol serves as an anti-inflammatory. During an infection, your body releases a number of agents to fight against it, one of which is cortisol, which makes sure that the infection doesn’t get out of control.

When we’re stressed, and cortisol is released to counteract this condition, this anti-inflammatory effect can become too strong.

This can throw off your immune system, and basically weakens it instead of strengthening it, as it should. A weakened immune system is always bad news – it makes us vulnerable to a dizzying array of conditions and diseases, from the common cold to more serious viruses.

Our bodies’ natural defenses being compromised like this is a situation we never want to find ourselves in.

On the flip-side however, lower levels of cortisol can cause our immune systems to go overboard attacking smaller infections, leading to respiratory issues and auto-immune conditions.

This is all bad news, and all the more reason for keeping cortisol levels, and of course, adrenal health, in good working order.

 

Treating Adrenal Fatigue

With such a dizzying array of symptoms and information about hormones, the prospect of restoring your adrenal glands to good working order can seem like a daunting one.

But with the right supplements and a few different lifestyle choices, it is perfectly possible to get on the road to recovery.

First, cut out the junk food, and try and reduce the amount of sugar and caffeine in your diet as much as possible.

On top of that, start taking a healthy dose of the following four supplements, all of them proven to be beneficial to overall health:

 

Your doctor can discuss more options for treating the symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue, and remember you have the right to find a doctor who will listen and work with you to help you feel better.

 

This is a very brief discussion on how to treat this condition, so it’s critical to your health to discuss your symptoms with your doctor and explore both the underlying cause in your case, and possible treatments.

Hormones are a big part of Adrenal Fatigue and many other conditions. Learn more at www.powerofhormones.com.

 

References:

Mayo Clinic

7 Common Adrenal Fatigue Symptoms And How To Treat Them

 

The Hormone - Depression Link

There’s some controversy around what really causes depression.

Some say it’s all genetic, others say it’s your environment, or maybe it’s how you think and react to events in your life.

There’s support for most theories. We know some people are more susceptible to depression, so genes must play a role.

Being in an abusive relationship or negative work environment can cause depression too.

Most people will also agree that if we dwell on negative thoughts, we can become depressed.

So there are a mix of causes that work together, and we’re starting to understand that it’s complex. Science is also starting to find that hormones play a role too.

Depression is surprisingly (and sadly) common in our society, and it’s on the rise. More and more research is going into how to help people avoid depression, manage it, and get better.

Medication is one treatment that works for some.

However, many people on antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications just aren’t seeing results or benefits from their medication, and that can indicate that something else—like a hormonal imbalance—is causing the symptoms.

When considering hormones as a cause of depression, consider this: A woman’s hormone’s are always changing.

Both sexes go through puberty, but women go through all kinds of hormonal changes at that time, and then monthly for three or four decades before another huge hormonal shift.

Rita Nonacs, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Director of the Center for Women’s Health at Massachusetts General Hospital looked at how this affect’s depression in women in her book A Deeper Shade of Blue.

“Throughout her reproductive years, not only is a woman exposed to different types of hormones and different levels of these hormones than a man,  she experiences constant hormonal fluctuation,” writes Dr. Nonacs.

This hormone yo-yo effect wreaks havoc on many women, especially those vulnerable to depression and anxiety.

The hormone-depression link is well researched and documented.

Claudio Soares and Brook Zitek authored a paper titled, “Reproductive hormone sensitivity and risk for depression across the female life cycle: A continuum of vulnerability?”

The paper’s abstract begins with, “Throughout most of their lives, women are at greater risk for depression than men. Hormones and neurotransmitters share common pathways and receptor sites in areas of the brain linked to mood, particularly through the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis.”

They theorized, and then proved with research, that women “presenting with episodes of depression associated with reproductive events (i.e., premenstrual, postpartum, menopausal transition) may be particularly prone to experiencing depression, in part because of a heightened sensitivity to intense hormonal fluctuations.”

It seems at any point of their life, women are experiencing hormone fluctuations that affect their mood.

The two authors noted, “The gonadal steroids estrogen and progesterone have been shown to affect brain regions known to be involved in the modulation of mood and behavior.”

This isn’t the only hormone interaction at play in depression. We’ll discuss this one first and then thyroid and cortisol issues related to depression.

 

Female Hormonal Changes and Depression

It’s interesting to note that males and females suffer about the same rate of mood and anxiety disorder...before puberty.

After puberty, however, that rates rise in women, who are 1.5 to 3 times more likely to suffer from major depressive disorders than are men.

Puberty brings all kinds of hormonal changes, and women’s hormones fluctuate throughout their cycle. Many people are aware of premenstrual syndrome, or PMS.

It’s a worrying statistic that at just 15 years old, girls are twice as likely to suffer from depression as boys, and their risk of suffering from depression going forward remains consistently higher.

Dr. Nonacs states however that “at no other point are women more vulnerable to depression than during their childbearing years”.

During puberty, girls experience massive rises in the hormones estrogen and progesterone. These are responsible for physical changes such as the development of breasts. However, they also impact the brain.

Estrogen, for example, is known to diminish the production and effects of cortisol, known as the “stress hormone”, something deployed by the body to counteract the effects of stress and anxiety.

Progesterone, on the other hand, has been shown to have a calming effect and the ability to mitigate panic symptoms.

The process of menstruation involves fluctuations in the levels of estrogen and other hormones. Some women experience depression-related symptoms such as sadness, irritability, and fatigue prior to menstruation.

More severe case of emotional problems related to menstruation is known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

PMDD has recently been inducted into the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), and so is officially recognized as a mood disorder.

Most women experience at least one or two unpleasant symptoms associated with PMS, but you will only receive a diagnosis of PMDD if you are suffering from at least five symptoms. These may include:

Between 3 and 8 percent of women will experience these more severe symptoms. Talk to a patient with PMDD and they’re likely to complain of cramps, back aches, night sweats, and other problems.

Strangely, the cause of PMS and PMDD is a mystery. The closest we have to an answer is imbalanced hormones, mostly those associated with the menstrual cycle like the previously mentioned estrogen and progesterone.

Postpartum depression is a more widely documented manifestation of the effects of these hormone imbalances, and menopause is also counted among this family of hormonal conditions.

As such, the case for a direct link between hormones and depression is compelling. Women are vulnerable to depressive episodes at many times in their life, due to a variety of factors, but one of the most pressing has to be fluctuating hormones.

All the changes experienced during adolescence, pregnancy, as well as later cycles and menopause, are taxing processes on the body and mind.

It becomes painfully obvious that women need physical care to deal with the normal symptoms of menstruation and hormonal shifts through pregnancy and menopause. Care shouldn’t stop there.

Women need support for emotional health as well. Managing hormones becomes very important for overall health.

Women may also experience thyroid and cortisol hormone issues on top of these.

 

Thyroid Hormones and Depression

Despite not being immediately related, depression is a major symptom of hypothyroidism. This is a condition that means your thyroid gland can’t produce enough hormones to function properly.

There are medications available to treat this condition, and unlike adrenal fatigue, is a medically recognized condition.

Hypothyroidism and PMDD share many of the same symptoms. If you found that PMDD fit some but not all of your boxes, check the symptoms below to see if more apply.

 

If you’re suffering from any or most of these symptoms, consult your doctor. They can provide blood tests that can detect abnormalities in thyroid hormones and confirm a diagnosis of hyper or hypothyroidism.

It’s also worth noting that any condition that affects your health can affect your mood and cause depression.

Thyroid conditions lead to people feeling “off” and unhealthy, and combined with fatigue, aches and pains, thinning hair.. Well, you can see how it could lead to depression.

 

Cortisol and Depression

Cortisol is an immensely important hormone for a number of reasons. One of these is that it helps regulate blood pressure and blood sugar, two things that contribute towards our experience of stress and depression.

Chronic stress can result in prolonged elevated levels of cortisol, which can in turn lead to higher blood pressure and blood sugar, as well as a diminished ability to stave off infections, and to keep weight off.

People suffering from depression also tend to lack the proper levels of something called serotonin, as well as exhibiting higher levels of cortisol.

Taking steps to reduce the stress in your life is a great way to start the road to recovery from depression.

It may also be worth reading up on something called adrenal fatigue, which is a related condition that is caused by high levels of cortisol, ergo chronic stress.

Basically your adrenal glands become fatigued because your body becomes resistant to the effects of cortisol while demanding the adrenal glands constantly produce high levels of the hormone.

During this process, you may experience similar symptoms to those discussed here like mood swings, depression, anxiety and insomnia.

 

Adrenal Issues and Depression

Imbalances in the stress hormones adrenaline, cortisol, and the precursor hormone DHEA can cause depression, anxiety, and insomnia. These may not be related to mental health.

Chronic stress hormones make you feel anxious, unable to sleep, and irritable.

A chronic deficiency of stress hormones can make you feel sluggish, tired even when you sleep, moody, and depressed.

When you have daily fluctuations and imbalances, it can cause a mix of both sets of symptoms.

It’s easy for a doctor to miss this and prescribe antidepressants when it’s a hormone issue.

For example, a symptom of undiagnosed hypothyroidism is depression that doesn’t  respond to antidepressant therapy.

Dealing with Hormonal Depression

A first step is running blood work and checking hormone levels. Some doctors do this before moving forward with antidepressants. If your doctor doesn’t, consider requesting it.

Your doctor should consider your complete medical history, assess your symptoms, do a thorough clinical exam, and run comprehensive blood testing to evaluate and diagnose any hormone balances.

Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications often have side effects, and no one wants to deal with that over a medication that won’t treat the problem is the underlying cause is actually a hormonal issue.

Hormones interact and affect our health in many ways. Learn more at www.powerofhormones.com.

 

 

References:

https://www.womenshealth.gov/mental-health/mental-health-conditions/postpartum-depression

 

https://www.holtorfmed.com/the-link-between-hormones-and-depression/

 

https://www.medicinenet.com/premenstrual_dysphoric_disorder_pmdd/article.htm

 

Women, Hormones, and Depression. Therese Borchard. https://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/therese-borchard-sanity-break/women-hormones-and-depression/

 

“Reproductive hormone sensitivity and risk for depression across the female life cycle: A continuum of vulnerability?” Soares, Claudio. Zitek, Brook.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2440795/

 

 

Top 13 Tricks for Sub Optimal Thyroids


Thyroid issues are sometimes vague and hard to diagnose. It might only be “feeling off” or “run down all of the time” but you know your health isn’t what it should be.

Sadly, many are told that they’re just getting older and they need to accept it.

Even blood work might not reveal the problem—some people are in the normal range for thyroid levels but are actually suffering from suboptimal thyroid function, a condition also called subclinical hypothyroidism.

We’ll discuss ways to help your thyroid soon, but first we should talk about the many symptoms and how your thyroid works.

Symptoms of this condition can manifest in many ways. Symptoms of Overactive Thyroid- Hyperthyroidism include:

Symptom of Underactive Thyroid – Hypothyroidism include:

To make it more complicated, these symptoms can overlap with other conditions.

The Thyroid’s Job

If you’re wondering just what the thyroid does, it’s a part of the endocrine system and secretes hormones to regulate fat burning and proper blood lipid levels.

The thyroid hormones T3 and T4 play a major role in metabolism and energy regulation so it’s essential to balance these two hormones.

Suboptimal thyroid function can be overlooked by doctors because what is considered a normal range is very broad. Some people will fall on the low or high end of “normal” but have symptoms.

Sadly, even with symptoms, doctors are hesitant to treat people within a certain range. The problem is, some people will test normal for certain diseases because everyone is different.

Some people will have symptoms of diabetes but their blood sugar levels are just inside “normal.”

Normal is not always normal for everyone.

Thyroid-related conditions are estimated to impact over 27 million Americans, 13 million of which are undiagnosed.

Despite being difficult to pin down, it is thought that there are three hormone deficiencies that lead to an unhealthy thyroid.

These are known as “T4”, “T3” and “rT3”, all of which need to be balanced, and able to convert and produce at the proper rates and times.

T3 is the active hormone. It’s conversion can be hurt by aging, stress, nutritional deficiencies, trauma, infection, surgery, medications, hormone imbalance, and diet.

It can be blocked by the thyroid antibodies Antithyroglobulin or Anti Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies, and Reverse T3, also called rT3.

T4 has four iodine molecules, and it’s a reserve or storage hormone that becomes active when it is converted to the active hormone free T3 by removing one iodine molecule.

Testing for Thyroid Problems

TSH is a common screening test, and it checks the signal from the pituitary gland in your brain that tells your thyroid to make more hormones.

If it’s high, the brain is telling the thyroid gland to make more hormones because your levels are too low.

That’s a bit confusing...So if the number is high, that means your brain is saying you need more thyroid hormones, so your thyroid hormone level is actually low.

The current range of normal for TSH is quite wide at 0.5-5.

But, normal and optimal are not the same.

People with symptoms who fall on either end of the so-called normal range probably won't be treated even though they need to be.

The American Association of Clinical endocrinology and the National Academy of Clinical Biochemistry have recommended changing the range since people who don't have severe symptoms may be suffering and can benefit from treatment.

They recommend a new range of 0.3-2.5.

If you’re in the new range and not being treated, talk to your doctor again or consider finding a new doctor.

You can also do things on your own to help your thyroid.

Here are 13 ways to make sure you are providing your body with the materials it needs to maintain a healthy thyroid.

1. Get enough Iodine

Iodine is a vital component for a healthy thyroid. It makes up a good deal of the molecular structure of both T3 and T4.

Iodine is important for maintaining a normal thyroid. Despite this, iodine deficiency is relatively common. Try adding iodine-rich foods into your diet like seaweed, eggs, prunes, and a variety of seafood.

2. Take Tyrosine, an amino acid that T3 and T4 depend on.

The balance between T3 and T4 is the most fundamental aspect of hormone and thyroid interaction.

There are many different chemicals and substances that influence this balancing act, as the two hormones are constantly converting and undergoing transformations.

If T3 and T4 fall out of balance, symptoms start to develop including irregular heartbeats and weight gain.

The worst case scenario is that the hormones become so imbalanced that you receive a diagnosis of Hashimoto’s disease or Grave’s disease, also known as hypo and hyperthyroidism, depending on which of the hormones is elevated.

Synthetic hormones are prescribed by a doctor in either case.

3. Get Enough Vitamin B12.

B12 is most commonly found in poultry, fish, and dairy.

The Journal of Pakistan Medical Association published a study linking Vitamin B12 deficiency and hypothyroidism.

So try introducing some more fish and dairy into your diet, and have a browse for a B12-rich cereal you might like.

4. Make sure you’re taking Vitamin A.

This vitamin isn’t just for better eyesight. Vitamin A is required for activation of thyroid hormone receptors.

Insufficient vitamin A may depress thyroid function.

Vitamin A can be found as either a direct supplement or in salmon or cod liver oil. Other sources include milk, eggs, leafy green vegetables, tomato, and fruit.

5. Include Selenium in your diet.

Selenium, a very important element in T3 and T4 processes, is required for a conversion to occur between these two hormones.

Without enough selenium, this process is impacted, resulting in poor thyroid health. Its function besides that is also as an antioxidant that helps protect the gland from outside stresses.

An easy way to get selenium into your diet is by eating Brazil nuts. Other options are broccoli, garlic, onion, eggs, and seafood.

The Molecular Nutrition and Food Research Journal published a study concluding that selenium is able to regulate hormone production and keep your thyroid running well.

It’s also been found to improve your overall endocrine system health.

6. Always Cook Brassica vegetables

Having just said broccoli is a good source of selenium – be careful!

Broccoli, kale, cauliflower, and others are fantastic sources of vital nutrients and are a tasty way of eating well, but there’s a catch. When eaten raw, they can negatively impact the thyroid.

They contain something called “goitrogens” which are removed in the cooking process – left uncooked, these veggies will actually release this substance that inhibits proper thyroid function.

So eat your veggies...just cook them first.

7.  Go easy on the Soy

Soy has divided opinion among nutritionists for a long time. Its benefits and drawbacks have been debated widely, but there is one thing everyone agrees on, and that is soy’s effect on thyroid health.

Soy, like the kale and broccoli just mentioned, contains goitrogen, and when ingested can block iodine from being used by your body.

If you’re suffering from some of the symptoms of thyroid problems, try cutting soy to see if it helps.

8. Cut out Gluten from your diet

In recent years, gluten has become an infamous cause of many dietary issues. By no means is everyone susceptible to its more damaging effects, but the benefits of gluten are relatively small, and cases of intolerance are rising every year.

When consumed in high doses your body can sometimes mistake gluten for a similar protein used by the thyroid, which can lead to confusion in your body and ultimately a sub-optimal thyroid.

If you suffer from an autoimmune disorder like Hashimotos or Graves disease, you should completely remove gluten from your diet.

9. Natural ways to help your Thyroid function healthily

Ashwagandha, Guggul, Korean Ginseng have been proven to help your body produce and maintain levels of T3 and T4.

Ashwagandha

This is a root native to India that has been long used for many medicinal applications.

It has a quality that separates it from most other herbs in that it is what’s known as an “adaptogenic” plant, which means it helps stabilize physiological processes.

The ashwagandha plan supports thyroid function, and has a compound in its root known as “glycowithanolide,” which also helps to reduce stress and cortisol. It also increases levels of T3 and T4 in the body, aiding healthy thyroid function.

Guggul

Another Indian native, Guggul is found in the sap of the myrrh tree.

Like ashwagandha, it helps healthy thyroid function by encouraging your body’s development of T3 and T4.

Korean Ginseng

Korean Ginseng reduces concentrations of inactive, thyroid hormone-inhibiting rT3.

“rT3” is the opposite of T3, and something you don’t want floating around in your bloodstream.

10. Hang Up the Phone

As surprising as it sounds, using a cell phone can actually tamper with how the thyroid processes and releases its hormones.

At this point we’re well aware that having your hormones imbalanced is a recipe for disaster, so consider limiting those super long phone calls to a minimum.

11. Cut down on plastic use

In recent years, a lot of people have become more aware of a “monomer” called BPA, or Bisphenol A, which is a component found in a lot of single-use plastic, like water bottles.

The negative side-effects of this monomer have been extensively catalogued, but the one that concerns us here is its impact on your thyroid.

The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that BPA directly impacted thyroid function – so consider switching out plastic water bottles and Tupperware to a BPA free version or ceramic or glass.

12. Avoid Triclosan

More and more people are becoming aware of what goes into many household items, including soaps and body washes.

Triclosan is a common ingredient in these items, and the journal Aquatic Toxicology published a study in 2006 that found even small amounts of this substance can throw off your thyroid hormones.

In late 2017, the FDA banned triclosan from over-the-counter products, but it’s a good idea to always check labels and watch out for harmful chemicals.

13. Up your antioxidant intake

Antioxidants are great for thyroid health, and the good news is, lots of tasty fruits, particularly berries, are excellent sources of antioxidants.

Most dark berries will do the trick, but for the highest concentrations try Acai berries and cranberries.

For the proof, just look up a study that was published in Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine that found a direct correlation between antioxidants and better overall endocrine health.

If you’re interested in more information on balancing your hormones, visit www.powerofhormones.com.

References:

“Do You Suffer From Suboptimal Thyroid Function?” Life Extension Magazine, Citing 50 different studies and publications.

Blackwell J. Evaluation and treatment of hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. J Am Acad Nurse Pract. 2004 Oct;16(10):422-5.

Van Tienhoven-Wind LJ, Dullaart RP. Low-normal thyroid function and the pathogenesis of common cardio-metabolic disorders. Eur J Clin Invest. 2015 May;45(5):494-503.

“20 Best Ways to Have a Healthy Thyroid.” Rebecca Szkutak. Bestlifeonline.com