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Hormone Imbalance





 

    While more than 50 hormones have been identified in the body…. this post is designed to be a topical overview of FEMALE/MALE hormone imbalance. If you find you want more in-depth information, schedule a one-on-one session.

 

    Hormones regulate various systems like mood, immune function, growth, and reproductive health. Depending on which hormone becomes out of balance, it's possible to experience multiple symptoms.

 

Signs of a hormone imbalance can include one or ALL:

·         Weight loss or weight gain

·         Irregular heartbeat  - Slow or rapid

·         Excessive Fatigue

·         Constipation or diarrhea

·         Numbness or tingling in the hands/face

·         Inability to tolerate cold or warm temperatures

·         High blood cholesterol levels

·         Mood disorders - Anxiety or depression

·         Hair loss

·         Hot flashes

·         Acne

·         Irregular or heavy menstrual periods

·         Infertility

·         Muscle mass loss

·         Vaginal dryness or itching

·         Erectile dysfunction

·         Loss of interest in sex

·         Susceptible to infections (viral/bacterial)

·         High cortisol levels

·         High or low Estrogen/Progesterone/Testosterone levels

 

   Many different factors can contribute to fluctuating hormone levels, especially in women. Throughout the various stages of life, from puberty to pregnancy to menopause, hormones are naturally changing. Most people become imbalanced because of diet, lifestyle, and environmental factors, such as high levels of stress, poor sleep, lack of exercise, and an unhealthy diet full of fat and sugar. Monitoring your sugar intake is especially key as it relates to hormones. For women especially, a diet full of excessive sugar – which includes all refined carbohydrates, not just the sweet stuff – can lead to significant hormonal imbalance.

 

   Sugar not only strongly contributes to hormone imbalance, but it is a major contributor to the aging process. Aging naturally accelerates for women when their hormones drop during the menopause. Excess sugar consumption after menopause breaks down collagen, reducing skin elasticity, and contributes to wrinkles. It drives up production of sebum oil, clogging pores; and it overworks the skin’s detoxification processes, causing redness, breakouts, and eczema. It also dehydrates the skin which exaggerates wrinkles and blemishes.

 

    Sugar damages the skin through a process called glycation. Glycation is a naturally-occurring chemical reaction that causes sugar molecules (glucose) to bind to proteins and lipids throughout the body, including the skin. The result is the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs).

AGEs have negative effects on the skin, including:

·         Dehydration

·         Premature aging

·         Uneven skin tone (dull, redness, splotchy, etc)

·         Inflammation

    Hormonal issues result from an imbalance in the body's energy force. Often, it can be balanced through lifestyle modifications, herbal remedies, dietary changes, and stress reduction techniques. However, in our culture, stress is an epidemic. Doctors are prescribing antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications at alarmingly high rates, more than ever before in history. It is suggested that 1 in 6 are now taking one of these medications.

    The fight-flight-freeze-or-fawn reaction is a response to a stressor (or perceived stressor). It begins in the amygdala, and sets off a cascade of hormones - cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine. The mind and body alternate between two states, rest and digest (parasympathetic) and fight-or-flight (sympathetic).

    Hormones are the messengers communicating between the mind, body, and spirit. When we slow down enough to become aware of their messages, we can become acutely aware of what it is we need. It is important to keep our minds, bodies, and spirit—and the hormones that govern them—in balance. This not only will impact our hormones, but also our overall state of wellbeing including digestion, immune response, etc.

    When we move from rest and digest (parasympathetic) to fight/flight (sympathetic), the first thing that is impacted is our digestion. This issue is best supported with herbs that focus on the digestive process and reduce toxins. Mindful eating is also an important practice for digestion. Implementing stress-reducing practices prior to (and during) mealtimes is as important as our food choices.

    Changing your diet is the first step to changing your health because it requires a change in your relationship to food.

    Restoring a hormone imbalance often means healing and restoring the emotional component. (re-establishing the mind body disconnect) Our most often experienced emotions are fear, anger, or grief. We don’t always know how to tap into our creativity, innocence, and joy. Healing the emotional body is not necessarily about talking and processing trauma, or guilt, or shame, etc. It is about finding the vulnerable parts ourselves. Being willing to look at the places that scare us, sit with the emotions, and to breathe through the discomfort. Re-establishing the MIND-BODY-SPIRIT connection is far more therapeutic than most professionals convey. It is THE foundation to rebuilding our health and wellness.

Stress and HORMONAL Eating:

    Eating processed sugars, refined carbohydrates, foods with added sugars can cause your blood glucose to rise quickly and stay elevated. Repeated glucose spikes and crashes can cause brain fog and cravings and contribute to long-term illnesses like diabetes, hormone imbalances, heart disease, and dementia. “Glucose spikes” are sharp rises in blood sugar levels. They often occur when you eat too many sweets or simple carbohydrates. Consistent glucose spikes can lead to various health conditions including:

·         Aging and arthritis

·         Hormone imbalance

·         Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease

·         Type 2 diabetes

·         Cancer risk

 

    Sugar can cause or worsen hormone imbalance in both men and women. Sugar consumption increases blood sugar levels, which leads to insulin spikes that affect the production and balance of other hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone. While excess sugar in the diet can elevate testosterone levels in women, ironically it can lower testosterone levels in men! This leads to lower sex drive and erectile dysfunction in men.  Contributing to erection problems.

 (ED - Elevated blood sugar, or frequent glucose spikes, over time can damage the nerves and blood vessels, causing problems with getting or keeping an erection.)  High blood sugar, or frequent glucose spikes, can impact the nerves, blood vessels, and blood flow in every part of your body, including the penis.

    Sugar also increases the amount of estrogen produced by fat cells, especially in the belly area. Studies have shown that there is a direct relationship between sugar intake and female related conditions such as PCOS, irregular periods, infertility, among many other issues. A high sugar diet can lead to inflammation in the body, which can contribute to the development of endometriosis since sugar blocks the production of prostaglandins, which have anti-inflammatory properties. High sugar intake often increases the symptoms of pain and discomfort associated with endometriosis.

 

PMS, ENDOMETRIOSIS:

   Many women who suffer from PMS, endometriosis, or other reproductive/hormone issues, eat 275% more refined sugar than those without these conditions. This elevates estrogen levels, and high estrogen levels force other hormones into an imbalance, further worsening symptoms and conditions.

 

   Hormones are the body’s chemical messengers, helping to control nearly every physiological process in the body. This includes metabolism, immune functioning, the menstrual cycle, and overall reproductive health. Hormone imbalance can strongly impact various health issues, such as PCOS, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, sleep apnea, anxiety, depression, and infertility.

 

    Elevated insulin levels can affect the normal workings of a women’s ovaries, this leads to the production and elevation of the hormone testosterone.  Elevated testosterone can raise the likelihood of PCOS, cause PMS and affect period cycles. It can also cause excess body hair, facial hair, and acne. Excess insulin production can inhibit the production of human growth hormone, which is responsible for muscle mass, body fat and bone structure.

 

 

 

PCOS:

    The symptoms of PCOS can be mild or worsen in time, and may include acne, weight gain and difficulty losing weight, excess hair on the face and body, irregular periods, fertility problems and depression. Therefore, a diet high in carbs/sugar can have significant effects on the reproductive hormones.

It is important to know that plant foods contain phytoestrogens, which are groups of chemicals that weakly act like estrogen in the body. Soy is a great dietary source of phytoestrogens, specifically isoflavones, which binds to estrogen receptors in the body. They are found in specific seeds, plants, and legumes. Phytoestrogens support hormone balance and are preventative against several conditions. They act selectively and support the efficacy and action of our body’s natural estrogen production. They may work to naturally manage hormone imbalances, making them beneficial for women near menopause. {HOWEVER, it is important to note that SOY is a touchy subject!! Most soy grown in the United States is GMO soy. Most GMO soy is used for food for animals, predominantly poultry and livestock, and making soybean oil. It is also used as ingredients (lecithin, emulsifiers, and proteins) in processed foods. GMOs can lead to severe hormonal imbalances and even infertility. When considering soy products, ORGANIC is always the best option.}

 

SEED CYCLING:

    One way to manage hormone imbalance after making dietary changes is through SEED CYCLING. Seed cycling is a method of consuming specific seeds at different times of the month to balance hormones, especially estrogen and progesterone. It is based on the idea that seeds contain essential fatty acids that are necessary for hormone production. The most common seeds used are flax, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower and chia. Seed cycling is claimed to have various health benefits, such as regulating periods, reducing acne, treating PCOS, endometriosis, and infertility, easing menopause symptoms, and improving thyroid, hair, and skin health. Seed cycling follows the phases of the menstrual cycle or the moon cycle for menopausal and postmenopausal women. Those in favor of seed cycling say that positive hormonal changes can be noticed after a few months of cycling. (Usually within 3-6 months)

 

TESTING:

    It is important to have hormone levels tested, this allows for a better assessment of your level of imbalance. Saliva hormone testing is preferred over blood testing because saliva has hormone levels very similar to what is next to your cells. This makes it ideal for revealing subtle hormone imbalances that blood testing may fail to pick up. Saliva values represent the hormone levels that are most likely to impact the body, while the blood test can only detect the hormones in the blood serum at that moment. 

 

    There is a book called The Hormone Balance Bible by Dr Shawn Tassone – It is a great reference when dealing with hormonal imbalance. TassoneMD.com

There is a quiz on this site you can take that can help you to understand your symptoms a little better, HOWEVER…. THIS IS NOT A REPLACEMENT FOR MEDICAL CARE! It is important that you work with your healthcare professional regarding your symptoms and issues. Dr. Tassone Quiz The information provided in this blog is strictly to be used as a reference key as you do your due diligence and research what is the BEST APPROACH FOR YOU!

 

 

Here are some “Hacks” that can help reduce your blood glucose spikes and help to balance hormones

 

DON’T COUNT CALORIES

    Instead of focusing on “calories” and how many you DO or DON’T consume every day…… Focus on the MOLECULES and what order they enter the bloodstream!

    There are studies that show people who consume the SAME MEALS have different glucose spike results based more on the ORDER the foods are consumed than the CALORIES consumed. Calorie counting doesn’t impact your overall health and VITALITY…… Reducing glucose spikes do!

 

PROTIEN, (Good) FAT and FIBER FOR BREAKFAST

·         Protein

·         (Good) Fat

·         Fiber

·         Little to NO starches

·         NO SUGARS, except for RAW FRUITS. (Not fruit juices, or sweets) Whole fruits contain fiber which slows how the glucose breaks down.

When it comes to glucose, the “BREAKFAST SPIKE” dictates the spikes and cravings for the rest of the day.

 

EAT YOUR FOODS IN THE RIGHT ORDER at each meal:

·         Veggies FIRST

·         Proteins SECOND

·         Starches/Sugars AT THE END OF THE MEAL.

    Eating foods in the right order can decrease glucose spikes up to 75%.

You don’t need to “wait” between foods, just consume them in this order. Veggies should be your APPETIZER of choice prior to eating your meal and then consumed FIRST when your meal arrives. Avoid carbs/starches and sugars as a “snack” or appetizer. This contributes to glucose flooding the bloodstream in an expedited manner causing a “glucose spike”.

    When you consume veggies FIRST, the fiber in them break down and make a “lining cover” along the intestinal wall. This lining causes the glucose to be “slowed down” in its entry to the blood stream which reduces the “spike” effect.

High protein snack ideas:

·         Jerky

·         Turkey Rollups

·         Mixed Nuts

·         Raw Veggies

·         Tuna

·         Boiled Eggs

·         Nut Butter and Celery sticks

·         Sliced Apple with Nut Butter

·         Chia Seed Pudding with Dairy free milk (NOT OAT MILK! **Side note: OAT AND RICE MILK is nothing more than SUGAR MILK!! These options are not good for glucose spikes and hormone imbalance)

 

VINEGAR BEFORE MEALS

    Prior to consuming your meals, drink a large glass of water containing 1 tablespoon of (acetic acid) vinegar. Studies have shown that doing this can decrease post meal glucose spikes by 30%.

Acetic Acid slows down how fast molecules of glucose enter the bloodstream, it also signals the muscles to soak up glucose. When these actions happen together, they work to decrease glucose spikes.

 

MOVE – after your meals

    Take a walk. When muscles contract, they require glucose so moving will soak up glucose in your bloodstream reducing the amount. If you can’t get up and walk, you can do exercises at your desk. Calf lifts, leg lifts, arms curls (with or without weights) can also work to soak up glucose.

 

DRINK COFFEE OR TEA AFTER YOUR MEALS

    Caffeine contributes to glucose spikes if consumed BEFORE OR DURING A MEAL. Avoid caffeine on an empty stomach. It is erosive and irritating to the tissues. Drinking coffee or tea after your meal will minimize your glucose spikes as well as reduce the harmful effects of the beverages.

**When consuming MEDICINAL/HERBAL tea that is NON-CAFFIENATED, it is best to consume them on an EMPTY stomach. It helps with optimal absorption of the herbs and components of the herbal teas.

 

    It is important to add that how FAST you consume your food (sugars/starches/carbs) also contributes to how rapidly the glucose hits your bloodstream.

 

MEDITATION:

    Reducing stress and bringing the body back to a state of “rest and digest” (parasympathetic) allows it to begin to “reset”, this impacts all processes, especially hormone balance.

    Guided meditation, group meditation, etc are all great options. This helps to calm the body as well as strengthen the mind-body connection. Meditation is a popular practice for reducing stress and improving mental health and overall wellbeing. Medication impacts the endocrine system (hormones) and energy homeostasis.

 

Dietary tips:

    Eating enough protein, which provides amino acids for hormone production.

Eating healthy fats and high fiber foods, which support hormone balance.

Reduce processed sugars and carbs/starches, this will reduce inflammation and insulin resistance.

 

GUT and LIVER HEALTH:

    Taking care of gut health! Restoring your gut lining which affects hormone metabolism is crucial. A healthy gut is paramount in the efforts to restore hormone balance.

    Liver detoxification is vital when addressing hormone imbalance. The liver plays a significant role in hormonal imbalances because the it breaks down or metabolizes the hormones once they have done their work in the body. If the liver is not functioning optimally, it may be inefficient at breaking down these hormones, leaving them to accumulate in the body and cause hormonal imbalances.

Focusing on healing the gut lining and supporting the liver is a crucial part of the journey to restoring your hormone balance.

 

    We carry several natural teas, herbs, and essential oil products in the Apothecary that you may find helpful on your journey! I also offer one on one sessions for those looking for more in-depth information on their journey.

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