Since this website is devoted to inspiring women to take care of their health, there needs to be a discussion about one of the key players in health – hormones.
It’s one thing to throw the “h” word out there in conversation, but do you really know what hormones are, what they do, and how they can contribute to some of the major problems women face?
Part of “doing” is “knowing” so let’s explore what hormones really are so that you can begin piecing together your personal health puzzle.
What are hormones?
Hormones are often called “chemical messengers.” What this means is that they are constantly communicating important messages throughout your body, even at rest. Each one operates, essentially, like a mailman – delivering important information to the correct recipient. In terms of hormones, there are actually MANY different mailmen (hormones), and they are dropping off the most important pieces of mail that you need to survive.
When they are doing their job effectively, everyone gets their mail (or the right message), but when something gets in the way (ferocious dogs, talkative recipients), the message may be delayed or never heard.
Hormones are part of what we call the endocrine system. The endocrine system is a set of hormone secreting glands within the body. The major function of the endocrine system is to keep balance…you know, that fun word you learned in high school biology, “homeostasis.” Everything in your body wants to be in balance. For example, blood pressure and blood sugar. You don’t want these too high or too low -the results are not pretty. Same goes with your sex hormones. When we start creating too much or too little of the key players in women’s health (thyroid, estrogen, progesterone, cortisol, insulin), we can run into trouble! I’ll go into detail about these major players in future posts.
Most hormones are made up of amino acids (protein), but some are steroid based (made from cholesterol). This is why consuming adequate amounts of protein, fat, and cholesterol are absolutely essential to proper hormone function. This may also be a contributor why women especially are at risk for hormone imbalance. All too often I see women with FAR too low of fat and protein in their diet. The focus needs to switch from a diet high in carbohydrates to a diet balanced with quality fats and protein. A pathetic salad with only a vegetables, no dressing, and a few tiny slices of a lean chicken breast won’t do it.
What are some of the main functions of hormones?
In addition to controlling the reproductive cycle, hormones regulate your metabolism, blood sugar, digestion, and sleep, they control cravings and appetite, they stimulate or inhibit growth, and digestion, and much much more. As you can see by this list, hormones are really where it’s at when it comes to feeling like a rockstar.
And it all works great, until it doesn’t…..
What goes wrong?
Have you ever played the game telephone? One person starts with a message and they quietly pass the message on from person to person until the last person receives the message and shouts it out to see if the final message was received properly. If your body is functioning properly, the message that started should have been received at the proper destination in tact so that your body could decide whether more or less of the hormone was needed.
Sometimes the messages from our brain and organs secreting the hormones doesn’t quite make it to the proper end point. Sometimes we have flooded the cell with so MUCH of the hormone that it “stops listening” to the hormone and the communication is defective. Sometimes we just stop making proper amounts hormone. Whatever the case may be, if the communication isn’t there – we’re out of luck. Luckily, however, there are plenty of natural alternatives and lifestyle factors that help fix the miscommunication.
This website will help you focus on sleep, supplementation, diet, exercise, healthy relationships, the right attitude, and PLAY. All of which are known to help create healthy, happy, hormones.
A few fun facts for the road:
Did you know that estrogen arises from sources other than the ovary? It is also made in adipose (fat) tissue and get this…certain regions of the brain can also make it!
Good things about estrogen: It acts on the liver to create IGF-1, which increases osteoblast (bone building) behavior. It can also inhibit proinflammatory cyokines in immune cells.