Something is happening inside of you that's truly incredible. You're the conductor of an orchestra composed of hormones, each with its unique melody that when balanced and in harmony, creates the perfect symphony for you. Every day they work together to keep your body functioning at its best. But sometimes things can go out of balance, which is why it's important to understand what each hormone does and how they work together. By understanding the basics of hormone balance, you can better maintain your health and well-being. So let's take a closer look at the incredible symphony of hormones happening inside of you!
Hormones - an extremely complex and convoluted conversation
It has become common to hear these from many women:
“Oh, my hormones are a problem.”
“I have hot flashes.”
“This vaginal dryness is such a bummer.”
“I feel like I'm gaining weight all the time!”
“I'm really tired.”
In men, it can be issues of:
“I'm just not able to maintain endurance as long.”
“I'm lacking motivation.”
“I feel somewhat depressed.”
Some men may notice a decrease in muscle mass. Others may notice a decrease in libido. These are signs and symptoms of hormone imbalance in men and women.
Consider the people who come in reporting a more sudden onset of joint aches and pains. It is somewhat atypical to hear, but it can be related to hormonal changes. We see fatigue that is significant enough to start affecting people’s quality of life, sleep, and mood. This can cause a lot of anxiety.
Women often think their careers or taking care of their families might be causing their problems. Sure, environmental stressors have a big role in this. However, when those collide with a hormonal imbalance change, it can turn your life upside down.
Hormones - What are they and What do they do?
Hormones are chemical signalers. They travel through the body and connect to receptors on our cells (think of how Lego blocks fit together perfectly), which in turn sends a signal to our body. When the “hormone” lego piece connects to the “receptor” lego piece on a cell, it triggers a chemical reaction inside the cell. When we start getting into changes in the structure and chemical nature of a hormone, then those Lego pieces don't fit quite perfectly together – but they can fit enough to trigger reactions we don't want to have happen.
You may have heard of terms like bio-identical and non-bio-identical.
Bioidentical is what your body knows. It's the exact chemical structure your body already makes. Non-bioidentical means it's not exactly like your body makes. It kind of imitates that structure but isn't quite there yet.
Have you ever tried attaching a generic brand of Legos with regular Legos. You can push hard and you can squish them together, but it will not be a perfect fit and it's not always going to work the way you want it to. Think about this being the way with hormones. Hormones are chemical messengers and they turn reactions on or off based on their fit to the specific cell.
Take Premarin as an example. Premarin is the most commonly prescribed form of estrogen. Its name is derived from its source – pregnant mare urine. Premarin literally comes from pregnant mares. Horses have a lot of different types of estrogen. In humans, we women only have three types. It is interesting to see we would take forms of estrogen from an animal that has so many different types and try to use it on humans. What this means is, we can get some abnormal fits into receptors that can alter our reactions. Hence, the reason why we prefer to work with bio-identical hormones.
Hormone Imbalance Indicatives
Poor concentration (one of the biggest issues)
Problems with mental clarity
Erectile dysfunction in men
Decreases in libido in both men and women
Softening of muscles
Mid-abdominal weight gain
All of these really common symptoms are what happens when your hormones get out of sync.
Ideal vs “Normal”
If you have a concern, be evaluated by somebody who is educated and has expert knowledge in hormonal therapy. Why go to a Functional Medicine Specialist who is specifically educated in hormonal therapies? It really comes down to the difference in approach.
For example, in the traditional model concerning men’s hormones, there are great ways to monitor testosterone levels. In men, what is considered normal is a range of 200 (ng/dL) to 1200 (ng/dL). In my opinion, a range of 200 to 1200 is a pretty big range. Here's the problem: Men will experience erectile dysfunction when their levels are less than 230 ng/dL. The death rate will go up with testosterone less than 600 ng/dL. To me, that is not normal.
In functional medicine, we strive for the ideal and not the ‘normal’. We know the ideal testosterone for men is between 900 ng/dL and 1200 ng/dL. While 230 ng/dL testosterone level may be deemed normal by traditional medicine, chances are that you're having issues with erectile dysfunction and you already have an increased mortality rate.
It’s essential to know what your normal ranges are and why going for the ‘ideal’ in a hormonal world is much better than just going for something considered “normal” by our typical standards.
Sometimes people express concern about hormone therapy.
The original studies on hormone therapy were done about 20 years ago. Since then, we have done thousands more. The problem is they get very complicated. If a study was done on women, these factors should be considered:
Were they premenopausal or postmenopausal?
Were they using bio-identical or non-bioidentical hormones?
Was it in combination with progesterone or without progesterone?
Was the progesterone bio-identical or was it synthetic?
What were the lifestyles involved?
What were the family histories involved?
What's the genetic makeup?
How well does somebody detoxify?
Does somebody metabolize their estrogen through a pathway that increases their cancer risk?
Nowadays, we have the benefit of knowing how to check all this information. In fact, the data that has come out in the past 5 years in regards to balancing hormones and actually decreasing cancer risk is incredible.
It's crucial to:
See somebody who is an expert in hormonal care if you feel you have a hormonal problem.
Be open-minded to the newest research and data because what is commonly out there is old and outdated.
Hormonal therapy is not the panacea of all medicine, but it's not something you should be afraid of when you are in the hands of somebody who is an expert in the world of hormonal care...
Easy lifestyle changes to help hormonal health
First, get some sunlight.
Getting out in the fresh air in the natural environment helps with the circadian rhythms, which release hormones in the proper rhythm. Make sure you're getting some first-morning sunlight and you’re getting fresh air every day.
There's nothing better than exercise when it comes to supporting hormonal health. You just have to move your body regularly. Going to the gym for an hour every day is nice, but it is best to do this with proper guidance. Simply getting movement every day and increasing muscle tone triggers a balancing of your hormonal patterns.
Third, eat well.
Your diet affects many aspects of your wellness. Depending on what you eat, you can be supporting healthy hormonal balance or hurting it. Clean up what kind of foods you eat for 30 days - cut sugar intake, gluten, and dairy products too. After 30 days, check-in with yourself and see how you feel.
Last but not least, get your hormone levels tested.
Get a result from somebody who interprets the information based on your ideal ranges and your particular situation - not some lab's standard range that can vary as much at 900 points.
As you can see, hormones are a complicated topic and there is still much to learn about them. However, by understanding the basics of what they are and what they do, you can take some easy steps towards maintaining healthy hormone levels and avoiding any potential imbalances. If you are interested in learning more about how we can help support your hormonal health or if you want to schedule a discovery call to chat with us, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We would be happy to help!
If you have any questions about hormonal therapy, fatigue, weight gain, brain fog, hot flashes, or feeling unsure about what is safe for you, please reach out to us at Vitality. We would like to help you improve the quality and longevity of your life. We’d be happy to schedule a discovery call with you. During this call, we can discuss your symptoms in more detail and come up with a plan tailored specifically for you.
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DISCLAIMER: The information in this email is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content is for general informational purposes only and does not replace a consultation with your own doctor/health professional