07 May Living a Balanced Life
Work-life balance. Eating a balanced diet. Balancing the books. All of life is a balancing act. The human condition instinctively craves equilibrium in an increasingly busy world. Even with structure, discipline, and planning, a true sense of well-being is elusive if your internal biochemistry is unbalanced. Could your hormones be undermining your best efforts?
Hormones are potent chemical messengers that are created by glands in the endocrine system. At every age, these messengers regulate our bodily functions, growth, metabolism, sexual function, and more. When in proper balance, hormones help our bodies thrive. When out of balance, even if only a small amount, our well-being is disrupted.
Many people assume that hormonal imbalances only affect middle-aged women. We all know someone who has struggled with “personal summers” and other miserable conditions of the menopausal body and mind. Female menopause is one of the most vivid examples of hormonal changes. What most people do not realize is that the potency of hormones impact multiple biological systems, in both genders, and across the adult timeline, not just middle-age.
Do you struggle with any of these symptoms?
Fatigue and insomnia, memory loss, weight gain or difficulty losing weight, loss of muscle mass or strength, hair and skin changes, sexual dysfunction or low libido, anxiety, lethargy, & irritability.
If you answered yes to one or more, your hormones may be responsible.
Of course, hormones naturally change as you move through life’s stages, but birthdays are not the only cause of hormonal imbalances. There are also lifestyle influences and other physical conditions that disturb your biochemical equilibrium.
The endocrine system can be disrupted by chronic or extreme stress, Type 1 or 2 diabetes, poor nutrition, sedentary lifestyle, over/under-active thyroid, being overweight, & exposure to environmental toxins.
Consider the impact of chronic sleep deprivation and insomnia. Research shows that not getting enough sleep, or getting poor-quality sleep, increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. It is also known that restorative rest enhances optimal hormone production and that optimal hormone levels produce quality sleep. Which is the chicken, which is the egg? The proverbial problem of cause and effect applies here. So what does a savvy, curious, protector of one’s own health do?
Easiest decision of your day – get a hormone screening test. Via a simple blood test, a typical hormone screening test checks the following:
Thyroid hormones. Produced by the thyroid gland, they help in controlling the metabolism of our body. Further, these hormones regulate weight and determine energy levels, internal body temperature, skin, hair, etc.
Growth hormones. Secreted by the pituitary gland, they stimulate growth, cell reproduction, cell regeneration, and boost metabolism.
Insulin. Produced by the pancreas, insulin allows the cells in the muscles, fat, and liver to absorb glucose that is in the blood. The glucose serves as energy to these cells, or it can be converted into fat when needed. Insulin also affects other metabolic processes, such as the breakdown of fat or protein. In a healthy individual, insulin production and release is a tightly regulated process, allowing the body to balance its metabolic needs.
Adrenal Hormones. Located at the top of each kidney, the adrenal glands produce hormones that help the body control blood sugar, burn protein and fat, react to stressors like a major illness or injury, and regulate blood pressure. Cortisol, known as the “stress” hormone is one of them. Too much cortisol leads to increased appetite, weight gain in the abdominal area, disrupted sleep and anxiety. Too little cortisol may impact inflammatory responses and metabolism.
Sex Hormones. Testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, and others are found at some level in both men and women. They are secreted by multiple glands in the endocrine system to help the body stay balanced and function optimally. An imbalance of sex hormones in both men and women is usually attributed to aging or environmental factors. Rebalancing those male and female sex hormones can restore feelings of well-being, energy levels, sex drive, and sexual pleasure. Sleep quality is improved, memory is sharpened, and loss of muscle mass and bone density are reversed.
Once results are determined, you can work with your physician to determine the optimal treatment program that will restore your hormonal equilibrium. It may be hormone replacement therapy, nutritional supplements, lifestyle modifications or some combination of all three. Even if no action is taken, you will be doing yourself a favor by establishing a hormonal measurement benchmark. If symptoms worsen in the future, you will know what deviations have occurred by comparing against the benchmark. With knowledge comes power, and the power to restore a sense of energetic youth can be yours.
Libby Heath, VitalLife Brand Manager, has spent more than 30 years in the Health and Wellness industry. If you want to shape a more youthful life, contact her at [email protected].