Hormones are messengers that send signals to organs telling them how to perform. If we have either too little or too much of a hormone, then our organs don’t receive the right signals needed for our bodies to function optimally!
Your body secretes about 50 hormones that control many critical functions! Hormones are mady by different part of the body and are transported via the bloodstream to tissues and organs. If our hormones are not working properly this can affect many different areas, including metabolism, reproduction, mood, sexual function and so much more.⠀⠀⠀
A hormone overview
- As part of nutrition series 1 we have already covered Insulin, Leptin and Grehlin.
- Other hormones like Dopamin, Seratonin, Melatonin are covered in the Sleep Series
- As the topic around hormones is very extensive, we cover only some of the hormones which form the so-called hormonal hierarchy. These are Oxytocin, Cortisol, Insulin (already covered), Estrogen, Progesterone and Testosterone. The reason for the hierarcy is that when your stress goes up, cortisol goes up. As cortisol rises, so does your blood sugar. When your blood sugar goes up, insulin will rise. This is the point where your body starts storing fat faster than normal. The high levels of cortisol and insulin start to accelerate the decline of your sex hormones, leaving you with many symptoms like anxiety, hot flashes, brain fog, weight loss resistance, low sex drive and much more.
Oxytocin gives you that incredible feeling inside you every time you see a loved one. Guess what makes us feel so calm and relaxed when we snuggle with our pet – oxytocin. Oxytocin is the best hormone around. The beautiful part of our hormonal design is that it’s at the top of the hormone food chain. When you get lots of oxytocin surging through you, you take a major step forward in balancing your hormones.
The next hormone is cortisol. Cortisol gives you the belly fat you hate, makes your blood sugar spike, and will wake you up at two in the morning to tell you there is a crisis going on. Every time you are under stress or perceive you are under stress, your body gives you a good dose of cortisol. Cortisol will even show up when you are overscheduled with fun activities. This hormone has such a powerful effect over our hormones, that lowering cortisol surges is key. You will struggle to lose weight, get a good night’s sleep, or feel relaxed in your skin if you don’t get your cortisol under control.
Estrogen has many roles in the body. It modulates libido, prepares the female body for pregnancy, contributes to cognitive, bone and cardiovascular health. Furthermore it helps with immune function and the aging process. Estrogen is naturally produced in ladies ovaries, adrenal glands and stored fat tissue. Estrogen is necessary for many important functions such as child bearing, keeping cholesterol in check, protecting our bone health and heart health and so much more. But when estrogen levels get out of hand or balance with our other hormones than it usually results in symptoms.
But estrogen is not all bad. It does help in many ways. Estrogen peaks around day twelve of a woman’s cycle. It’s this surge that signals to the ovaries to release an egg ready for implantation. Without the proper amount of estrogen, you can’t get pregnant. When estrogen surges and an egg gets released, your body is ready to create a baby. To ensure that you mate, estrogen will make you as attractive as possible. This means thickening your hair, giving you smooth skin. Having said all of that, there is a dark side to estrogen. There are three types (metabolites) of estrogens: one protective and two destructive and all need to be taken care to avoid deceases.
Progesterone is the balancing hormone. Progesterone shows-up on day twenty-one of your cycle. It’s what made the uterus bleed every month. Progesterone is a calming hormone. It also keeps estrogen from acting up. Estrogen and progesterone have an inverse relationship. If progesterone goes low, estrogen can get out of control. This estrogen/progesterone balance is key to keeping a whole host of menopause symptoms at bay. Low progesterone often causes challenges for women going through menopause. Signs of low progesterone are spotting days before your period, or maybe extremely heavy periods.
Progesterone often goes low in women during menopause because of the stress demands they went through in their thirties and forties. Why does progesterone go so low as you are moving through menopause? For many women, progesterone goes low because a steroid hormone called DHEA goes low. Through a series of chemical reactions, DHEA will make progesterone, testosterone, and cortisol. More on this in another article.
Most people think of testosterone as a male hormone, but it’s an incredibly helpful hormone for women as well. Testosterone helps you in three major areas: sex, motivation, and building muscle.
Testosterone gives us our sex drive. It is also what motivates you to go after your dreams or to have the drive to workout. When testosterone is high in your body, you will also retain muscle easier as you age. A classic set of symptoms in menopausal women is low sex drive, lack of desire to work out, and noticeable muscle loss. That’s a testosterone issue.