Hormones are incredible chemical messengers in our body that affect our brain, heart, bones, muscles, and reproductive organs and are an essential part of the workings of every cell in the human body. Hormones work best when balanced. However, hormones can become imbalanced.
Hormone imbalances are caused by
- Higher than average levels of stress
- Poor food choices
- Inadequate sleep
- Taking synthetic hormones
- Sedentary lifestyle (lack of movement or exercise)
Some of the most common side effects of hormone imbalance in women include:
- Weight Gain
- Hair Loss & Thinning Hair
- Low Libido
- Hot Flashes
- Night Sweats
- High Blood Pressure
- Excessive Facial Hair
Chronic insomnia is one of the most debilitating symptoms of a hormone imbalance, and is one of the symptoms that is typically overlooked. High levels of the stress hormone cortisol can contribute significantly. Cortisol is released by the adrenal glands during the “fight or flight” response, and is a powerful chemical.
Some of the most common hormonal imbalances in men include:
- Andropause: Known as the male menopause, and occurs as men grow older and testosterone levels decline.
- Adrenal Fatigue: If stress levels remain high for a prolonged period of time, the adrenal glands can’t produce enough of the stress hormone cortisol.
- Hypothyroidism: When the thyroid gland is underactive, it doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones.
- Hyperthyroidism: An overactive thyroid gland results in high levels of thyroid hormones and an increased metabolism.
Many of the symptoms of male hormonal imbalances come on very gradually. You may not notice them at first, but as more symptoms appear and become worse over time, they do become apparent. These symptoms of male hormone imbalance are some of the most common:
- Erectile Dysfunction
- Low Libido
- Muscle Loss or Weakness
- Depression or Anxiety
- Gynecomastia (development of breasts)
- Mood Swings or Irritability
- Hair Loss
- Memory Loss
- Sleep Apnea or Insomnia
- Night Sweats or Hot Flashes
- Increased Body Fat
- Heart Palpitations
- Constipation or Increased Bowel Movements
People often mistake the symptoms of imbalanced hormones in men with signs of aging. The good news is that these hormone losses and imbalances are easily correctable, and can be balanced naturally. Through proper treatment, these symptoms will often disappear, but the bad news is that most people turn to synthetic treatments (hormone replacement therapy), that can make people dependent on prescription drugs for the rest of their lives. These treatments can also cause serious side effects by increasing the risk of stroke, osteoporosis and cancer, and simply mask the symptoms while the disease develops in other areas of the body.
These are 9 signs you have a hormone imbalance
1. Constant weight gain
Sometimes, if you struggle with extra pounds, it doesn’t necessarily mean your diet’s wrong; it can be one of the signs you have a hormone imbalance. The so-called “stress hormone”, Cortisol is secreted by the Adrenal glands. When the production of Cortisol is disrupted, either through stress or some other cause, it can cause weight gain, but can also dictate where that weight gain will be accumulated on your body.
Increased Cortisol production stimulates an increase in the amount of Insulin released into your bloodstream. This can affect your blood sugar levels, which often results in increased appetite.
It was discovered that an increase in Cortisol levels can lead to “toxic fat” gathering in the abdominal area. This increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, both, a heart attack and stroke.
2. Hair loss
Previously, it was always believed that the main cause for hair loss is the lack of Testosterone, which may be true in terms of the root cause. However, now we know that the main culprit is Dyhydrotestosterone, or DHT. Whilst women only have a very small level of Testosterone in their body systems, it is enough to cause DHT to trigger hair loss.
3. Excess Sweating
This is another indication of hormone imbalance. Women going through the Menopause, or Perimenopause, often experience hot flashes. At night, when in bed, these are known as night sweats, and are sometimes a precursor to the onset of menopause itself, if it is not already in full swing.
These night sweats, in both women and men, can be a result of problems with the endocrine system, which have resulted from over or under production of hormones such as serotonin.
4. Feelings of fatigue
Fatigue is another of the signs you have a hormone imbalance, especially if you are getting plenty of quality sleep, but still wake up feeling tired. This could be down once again to Cortisol. Cortisol leads to a constant state of readiness, with regard to the fight or flight syndrome, which occurs when feelings of stress are being experienced. If stress is present too often, it can cause feelings of fatigue.
In the cases of chronic stress, people often experience Adrenal Fatigue, which is a result of the high levels of Cortisol. Cortisol actually controls something called the Circardian Rhythm. It eventually becomes disrupted, leading to very low levels of Cortisol later in the day. This brings feelings of emptiness and fatigue.
Moreover, feelings of fatigue can be also induced by another hormonal problem that comes about when the levels of TSH (Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone) are too high. This can occur when the Thyroid Gland malfunctions in a condition known as Hypothyroidism.
5. Craving for sugar
Craving for sugar can also be a sign of hormone imbalance, which can be brought about by the Thyroid gland. It’s consequence of the condition of hypothyroidism, when the gland is underactive.
Adrenal overload can also bring about this condition. This reaction is part of the “fight or flee” mechanism, whereby the body boosts production of Adrenaline and Cortisol. Unfortunately, anything sweet is a great source of energy to feed the fight/flee preparation process, albeit with only very short lasting.
6. Low mood
In cases of feelings of low and bad mood such as irritability, anxiety, and depression, the Thyroid Gland can be the cause once again, and again for the same reason, over production of TSH through Hypothyroidism.
7. Insomnia and interrupted sleep
Women going through the Menopause or Perimenopause often experience insomnia and interrupted sleep conditions. This is due to the huge change to hormonal balances, but unfortunately, continued insomnia and interrupted sleep just make the condition worse.
During sleep, hormone levels and balances are addressed, so sleep deprivation will affect up to 10 different hormones. This results in issues with appetite, fertility, cardiac health and mental health too.
The hormone Estrogen is the one that maintains regular sleep patterns. Its deficiency, which is a symptom of Menopause or Perimenopause, is a main cause of insomnia.
Testosterone deficiency can also be a problem for females. In men, it often leads to Sleep Apnea, causing interrupted sleep for both, themselves and their partners.
8. Poor Libido
Hormone imbalance can also lead to poor libido. Lack of the hormone Androgen can give rise to poor libido, even in women. This hormone is manufactured in men by their testicles, and in women by their ovaries.
9. Digestion Problems
The imbalance of 3 hormones in the gastrointestinal system can make you experience problems with your digestion. These are called Gastrin, Secretin, and Cholecystokinin, also known as CCK. They help to stimulate the actual digestive process that breaks food down into simple molecules, which can be easily absorbed into the bloodstream.
If you wonder how to deal with a hormone imbalance, the answer is: through your diet! Did you know that the consumption of turmeric and yams actually help you to balance your hormones?!
How to Balance Hormones Naturally
If you don’t want negative side effects but want to naturally balance your hormones, here are the top ways to heal your body.
Consume Foods Rich In Fatty Acids
Eating a variety of foods high in short, medium and long-chain fatty acids is excellent for keeping hormones in check. Not only are these essential fats fundamental building blocks for hormone production, but they boost your metabolism and promote weight loss. Foods packed with healthy fats include coconut oil, avocados, grass-fed butter, walnuts, flax, chia and hemp seeds, non-gmo tofu, sardines and wild-caught salmon.
Balance Omega-3/6 Ratio
Since the early 20th century, the use of vegetable oil in our diets has skyrocketed, and these items are full of Omega -6s. Because people didn’t boost their omega-3 foods intake to balance out this elevated omega-6s consumption, there has been an onslaught of chronic diseases and inflammatory processes that have literally taken over our society.
Avoid this pitfall by steering clear from oils high in omega-6s like safflower, sunflower, corn, cottonseed, canola, soybean and peanut, and load up on rich sources of natural omega-3s from wild fish, flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts and grass-fed animal products.
Heal Leaky Gut
Leaky gut is a condition that doesn’t just affect the digestive tract, but also causes hormone issues and can target the thyroid. When undigested food particles like gluten leak through your gut lining into the bloodstream, it causes disease-causing inflammation of the entire body and more specific organs like the thyroid.
Most people with leaky gut have an a deficiency of probiotics in their guts that actually help your body make vitamins that affect hormone levels like insulin. The top foods that support healing leaky gut include items like bone broth, kefir, miso, tempeh, fermented vegetables, and foods rich in fiber like vegetables and sprouted seeds. Supplements like digestive enzymes can also aid in repairing your gut lining, which will then help balance your hormones. Some of the main things that damage your digestive health include processed foods, gluten, hydrogenated oils and emotional stress.
Get More Sleep
Unless you are getting seven to eight hours of sleep every night, you’re doing your body no favors. Lack of sleep and sleeping at the wrong time is actually one of the worst habits people have that disturb hormone balance. This is because hormones work on a schedule, and cortisol, the stress hormone, is regulated at midnight. Therefore, people who go to bed late never truly get a break from the sympathetic flight/fight stress response, which has led to widespread stress-related health disorders. To maximize hormone function, get to bed by 10 p.m. Endocrinologists (hormone experts) claim that one hour of sleep between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. is equal to two hours of sleep before or after these time slots!
Drinking too much caffeine is almost as bad as not getting enough sleep. It elevates your cortisol levels, lowers your thyroid hormone levels and basically creates havoc throughout your entire body. If you need a little boost, try not to drink more than one or two cups of green tea or coffee. You’ll keep your hormones in check and enjoy the weight loss and cancer-killing benefits as well!
Perform Interval Exercise (Burst Training)
Burst (or interval) training isn’t necessarily new, as elite athletes and Olympians have known this secret to exercising and have been doing interval training for years. An example of burst training would be like going to a track and walking the curves, then sprinting the straightaways. Another possibility is getting on a spin bike and cycling hard for 20 seconds, then going easy for 20 seconds, then repeating that cycle for between 10 to 40 minutes.
Supplement with Vitamin D3
According to an article from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vitamin D3’s role in promoting health is more profound than previously thought. This is why people who live in dark areas suffer from significant depression and health disorders unless they find a way to supplement. Most people should supplement with around 2,000 IU to 5,000 IU daily of vitamin D3 on days they’re not in the sun.