Healthcare professionals are increasingly coming to realize the importance of hormone balance in wellness and quality of life. The body relies on hormones to function, and when a hormone imbalance strikes, it becomes impossible to maintain optimal health and well-being. The causes of hormone imbalances are numerous, ranging from disease to stress to poor diet. Whatever the cause, Radiantly Healthy MD in Indialantic, FL specializes in identifying hormonal imbalances and helping clients restore the harmony they need for a healthy, active life.
Is Hormone Therapy Right for You?
The human body relies on the endocrine system, which regulates our hormones. Hormones direct body processes that are essential to health, vitality and life. When they are in balance, our bodies function naturally, allowing us to go through our days feeling alert, energetic and strong. If our hormones fall out of balance, we feel foggy, lethargic and weak. Our bodies are not performing the processes necessary for optimal function.
If you have not been feeling like your old self lately, it’s important to ask why. Often, when we slow down, feel unmotivated and notice a few extra pounds in the mid-section, it’s not a matter of just getting older. A hormonal imbalance is causing us to feel run down. By identifying the out-of-balance hormone and bringing it back into harmony, we can restore our former vigor.
If you feel like you’ve lost your normal vitality, hormone therapy may be right for you.
What Is a Hormonal Imbalance?
Hormones work as messengers within the body. They are chemicals produced by the endocrine glands that interact with parts of the body, such as tissues and organs, to give them instructions about how to function. These instructions guide major bodily processes, such as metabolism and reproduction.
A hormonal imbalance occurs when someone has too little or too much of a hormone. The balance is very delicate. Even a small change can have serious health consequences. Hormones can be compared to a cake recipe. When the recipe is made just right, the cake is delicious; an excess or lack of one ingredient can drastically change how the cake tastes, however, and usually for the worse.
Some hormone levels naturally fluctuate throughout our lifetimes, such as at puberty or during menopause. As we enter middle age and beyond, our bodies have a tendency to produce lower quantities of certain hormones. While some changes in hormone volume are part of aging, hormonal imbalance issues are not a natural life stage.
These imbalances can seriously affect our lives, causing uncomfortable and unhealthy symptoms. They reduce life quality and can compromise our health. Because your quality of life and health may be at risk from a hormone imbalance, it’s important to know the symptoms of hormone imbalances.
Symptoms of a Hormonal Imbalance
Hormonal imbalances come with a wide variety of symptoms. Because the human body contains so many hormones that cause different symptoms when out of balance, it’s important to have hormone levels tested if you are feeling the symptoms of hormonal imbalance.
Common symptoms that impact both men and women include:
- Heat and cold sensitivity
- Unexplained weight gain
- Chronic fatigue despite adequate rest and nutrition
- Frequent diarrhea
- Dry skin
- A puffy face
- Unexplained weight loss
- Changes in heart rate
- Muscle weakness
- Frequent urination
- Excessive thirst
- Muscle aches, including tenderness and stiffness
- Joint swelling
- Painful or sore joints
- Thinning or brittle hair
- Increased appetite
- Feelings of depression
- Loss or decrease in sex drive
- Unusual anxiety
- Blurred vision
- Excessive sweating
- Fatty hump between the shoulders
- Rounded face
- Purple or pink stretch marks
Symptoms Unique to Women
Women experience changes in hormonal cycles that occur naturally, especially during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. Changes due to these factors may be natural, but women also experience damaging hormonal imbalances that cause symptoms like:
- Heavy or irregular periods
- Missed periods
- Stopped periods
- Too frequent periods
- Excessive hair on the face or body
- Acne on the face, chest or upper back
- Thinning hair
- Hair loss
- Weight gain
- Difficulty losing weight
- Darkening of skin, especially along neck creases, in the groin, and underneath breasts
- Skin tags
- Vaginal dryness
- Vaginal atrophy
- Pain during sex
- Night sweats
Symptoms in Men
Many men suffer from testosterone imbalance, which can cause:
- Breast tissue development
- Tender breasts
- Erectile dysfunction
- Reduction in muscle mass
- Decreased sex drive
- Loss of beard or body hair growth
- Problems concentrating
- Hot flashes
What Causes Hormonal Imbalance?
Hormonal imbalances can be caused by an illness or occur in isolation. Certain medications can trigger hormonal imbalances, as can lifestyle issues such as too much stress or poor nutrition. They can also be caused by a genetic predisposition to certain conditions, such as thyroid problems. Some of the common causes include:
- Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)
- Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
- Cushing Syndrome
- Hyperfunction of thyroid nodules
- Tumors (benign or cancerous)
- Congenital adrenal hyperplasia
- Eating disorders
- Certain medications
- Excessive high stress
- Adrenal insufficiency
- Pituitary tumor
- Injury or trauma
- Cancer treatments
Can Hormone Imbalance Be Prevented?
While many cases of hormonal imbalance cannot be prevented, you can reduce your risk of suffering from an imbalance by living a healthy lifestyle and avoiding habits that contribute to endocrine system disruption. As with many medical conditions, a healthy lifestyle reduces your odds of hormonal imbalance and mitigates the impact of one if it occurs. Here are some lifestyle tips that help keep hormones in balance:
Trade High Carb Meals for Healthy Fats
The body needs healthy fats to create hormones, including saturated fat and cholesterol. Though you don’t want to eat too many unhealthy fats, it’s important to have a diet of short-, medium and long-chain fatty acids, which are the building blocks of hormone production. In addition, healthy fats fight inflammation, rev up metabolism and help you lose weight.
Refined carbohydrates, on the other hand, encourage the body to store fat in unwanted areas, especially the middle. They also cause inflammation, which is a major cause of hormonal imbalance.
What to Eat
Foods with healthy fats and anti-inflammatory properties include coconut oil, avocado, grass-fed butter and salmon (wild vs farm-raised). Coconut oil has natural fat-burning components, while avocados are good for the heart, lower inflammation and curb appetite.
Wild salmon contains a plethora of good nutrition, such as omega-3 fatty acids, which not only decrease inflammation but also provide support for cognitive functions. Omega-3 fatty acids are a key building block of brain-cell membranes as well as playing an important role in the brain’s cell-to-cell communication.
Boosting your intake of Omega-3 fatty acids while limiting processed carbohydrates keeps you healthy and helps your endocrine system create and manage the hormones that are essential to vitality.
Reduce Stress and Strive for Emotional Balance
Life can be stressful, and in today’s high-tech, high-pressure competitive culture, more and more people report feeling run down by excessive demands and the unrelenting grind of high expectations. Regardless of how much we want to succeed at work or school, we also have to handle family responsibilities, take care of our health and have the opportunity to pursue our passions in life.
That’s a lot to put on anyone’s plate, and when we don’t give our bodies adequate time to unwind and recharge, health problems often begin, including hormonal imbalances.
How the Body Responds
Traditional Chinese Medicine posits that a person’s emotions directly affect their physical health. Emotional imbalances result from negative emotions, such as fear, frustration and impatience. High-stress lifestyles usually come with a large dose of situations that can cause these emotions. The resulting stress affects your hormones.
For example, cortisol and insulin levels are highly reactive to stress. When the stress becomes unbearable, levels go out of whack and cause a host of physical ailments.
How to Help Yourself
To reduce stress levels, consider taking time for yourself and try to gain a better understanding of your emotions through personal reflection. Meditation, breathing exercises, time outdoors and regular exercise all reduce stress and foster a feeling of well-being that replaces negative emotions like fear and frustration. By making emotional balance a part of your daily routine, you can feel empowered and keep your life and hormones in balance.
Take Sleep Seriously
Healthcare professionals recommend seven to eight hours of sleep each night because it is an essential part of your health. Just as diet and exercise play a role in well-being and disease prevention, sleep helps your body and mind remain strong, resilient and healthy. In fact, a lack of sleep or frequent and severe disruptions of the body’s circadian rhythm are some of the top causes of hormone imbalances.
A regular and adequate sleep schedule is important because hormones function on a schedule. For example, the body regulates cortisol, the main stress hormone, at midnight, while we should be sleeping. By consistently staying up late and missing sleep, people never get the chance to fully relax and let their bodies reduce cortisol levels.
Instead, the fight/flight response remains in overdrive, contributing to chronic stress, which only raises cortisol levels even more. Poor sleep is linked with high cortisol levels, which indicates the body has not had time to reduce the stress hormone overnight.
Sleep keeps the stress hormones balanced, allowing the body to recharge and building energy for the following day. When sleep is neglected, people experience heightened anxiety, loss of energy, depression and often struggle to maintain work or school performance. To keep yourself feeling strong and your hormones functioning optimally, be sure to take seriously the recommended seven to eight hours sleep.
Get Plenty of Exercise
A sedentary lifestyle can be as bad for your mind as it is for your body. A regular exercise program reduces stress, builds a feeling of well-being and elevates energy levels. It also aids in enhanced sleep quality, a key component of hormone health. Aerobic exercise, such as running, biking or elliptical training, lowers blood pressure, builds muscle tone and reduces fat.
All of these benefits assist with endocrine health. Weightlifting also helps increase metabolism and reduce fat, helping your body remain fit and balanced.
Treating Hormone Imbalances Can’t Wait
Hormone imbalance isn’t something people can just live with. It impairs health while making it impossible to function at your best. Without intervention, hormonal imbalances only grow worse, further compromising our abilities. If you have started to feel chronically fatigued, are having trouble losing weight or struggle to do things that once were easy, hormonal imbalance may be the culprit. The good news is that hormone imbalance is highly treatable.
If you have not been feeling yourself and think a hormonal imbalance may be at play, call Radiantly Healthy MD, in Indialantic, FL to find out if hormone therapy is right for you.