We don’t think about hormones when we are in our 20s, and most of us don’t even know what they are. Maybe we start thinking about them in our 30s when something goes wrong, like infertility or low libido, or when we notice changes in our parents’ lives and health. Anyway, when we are young, we don’t think about chemical processes in our body, and yet these processes are nothing short of a miracle – a miracle which we can regulate. Read along, and you will learn why you need to know your hormone levels, which can be determined from blood or saliva tests. (Hint: It has to do with knowing what to demand from your doctor.)
There is currently a bit of a conflict between popular opinions on health. The old, traditional medicine lets you believe you have very little control over your body, and when something is off, your best bet is a prescription medication, surgery, etc. This way of thinking is based on the belief that somebody else – like a doctor – will be in charge of your well-being.
The other, polar opposite, point of view lets you believe that you are completely in control of everything going on in your life. The power of mind and the way you eat will solve all your problems. It is an attractive viewpoint, and it’s here because a majority of people are tired of not being in control and not getting the results they want. We want to feel better, look younger, and have more energy. So the modern “gurus” are selling just that – you can do everything by yourself, and all the “wonder” supplements are sold online and preached about from a TV screen.
It’s unfortunate that with rapid technological advances we are still not being properly guided by professionals. Couple this with the fact that greed drives reckless advertising behavior, and it’s a sad picture, indeed.
So what is the solution? Are you in control or not?
The answer lies in-between. You are in control of doing the research and self-education – not from Google (that has everything under the sun) but from trusted professionals you can find elsewhere. You are in control of asking direct questions to your doctors, expecting educated answers back. You are in control of keeping records of your medical tests, keeping in your life only what benefits you, participating in events that empower you, and communicating with people who help you grow in a positive light.
How do hormones tie into that? A lot of things can alter your hormonal balance, and this affects your mood immediately. Nobody will feel it better than you, and you have got to learn how to notice these feelings. And then you can take action to do something about it.
Hormones are chemical messengers that set everything in your body in motion. They run back and forth between your brain and various bodily organs giving out directions such as what to do and how to do it. For you, everything is happening automatically – your heartbeat, breathing, growth, digestion, and so on; when, in fact, there is a whole transportation system working inside your body 24/7. Hormones ensure that this automated system is functioning flawlessly, or to be realistic, as flawlessly as it can, given the specific conditions of your body. About 50 different hormones are circulating through your body all the time. Some of them are steroids, some are peptides, some are neurotransmitters, and some are combinations of the above. I will talk about the most common ones and their connection to one’s mood.
Keep in mind that the balancing of hormones can be achieved naturally. There are times when some people take hormone substitution like creams and medication, and for various reasons decide to stop. The withdrawal can create anxiety, depression, mood swings, and other unpleasant symptoms.
Fluctuating Estrogen, Progesterone, Testosterone
For healthy young people, these three hormones are balanced. Men and women have them in different proportions from one another, and these hormones are responsible for our sexual development as well as some other factors.
As you experience changes in your body (such as prolonged stress, junk food, pregnancy, toxic exposure, etc.), these hormones start fluctuating and affecting your nervous system and production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin – a happy hormone.
A critical thing to know is that nutrients play a major role in hormone production. Deficiency in certain vitamins and minerals can lead to hormonal dysfunction. Some lifestyle habits can seriously affect hormones and vital organs associated with them.
Let’s take a look at three hormones (out of 50) that majorly affect your state of mind:
Estrogen is neuroprotective by helping the formation of new synapses in the brain. Healthy estrogen levels contribute to maintaining serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine levels – the neurotransmitters regulating your mood. Low estrogen can create havoc in your moods – such as depression, brain fog, anxiety, irritability, as well as weight gain and other physical health conditions.
Progesterone has an anti-anxiety effect by acting on GABA receptors in the brain. The role of a GABA neurotransmitter is to promote relaxation and sleep. In the brain, it helps balance excitation with inhibition. Often, with age, progesterone levels fall and estrogen levels remain high due to toxic exposure, being overweight, birth control pills, incorrect nutrition, etc. This creates a dangerous condition called “estrogen dominance” – when relative levels of estrogen and progesterone are tilted towards estrogen (there is a formula to calculate the ratio). There are multiple reasons why it can happen, and it might lead to serious health issues.
Testosterone is a vital sex hormone that plays an important role in health for both men and women. It is responsible for energy, sex drive, memory, concentration, and many other functions. Elevated levels contribute to anxiety, rage, anger, and can lead to dangerous health issues. When decreased, it can lead to depression, fatigue, muscle loss, cognitive decline, and more.
Other hormones also play a significant role in emotional and physical health. They include cortisol, insulin, leptin, ghrelin, and others. There are ways to balance them all with a strategic integrative approach.
My suggestion is to make healthy changes in your life, monitor your hormone levels, and only then decide if you want to give the power of your body to prescription medication. Sometimes it’s necessary, but most of the time you can give your awesome body a chance to restore itself to a healthy state.