Emphasis is usually laid on the external factors of well-being, like exercise and nutrition, often neglecting the internal factors like hormones, which have a huge say in whether you get to stay and feel great or not.
Hormones work or function as messengers between body systems. They order your physiology and behavior, such as digestion, metabolism, respiration, tissue function, sleep, stress, growth, movement, reproduction, even frame of mind.
Hormones inform your body when you are hungry, sleepy, stressed, etc, and it also tells you when to stop eating, when you need to wake up when you need to calm down, et cetera.
Key Facts on Hormones
- Estrogen, Progesterone, and Testosterone are very popular and are known as the sex hormones. But there are many other hormones too, such as insulin, growth hormone, leptin, melatonin, and cortisol.
- Hormones play a critical role in our body’s chemistry, helping to transport information between cells and organs.
- Hormones affect our body’s functions, from growth and sexual development to mood and how well we sleep, or how our body digests food.
- When hormones are in proper balance, they help the body flourish, but when hormone levels are too high or too low (imbalance), it can result in serious health problems necessitating medical management.
- Hormonal imbalances trigger fat storage and weight gain, and many other nasty symptoms like post menstrual stress, PMS, acne, painful breasts, migraines, loss of libido, etc…
- Our hormones dictate virtually every part of our lives. From our state of mind to our behavior, body shape, eating habits and even our response to stress.
- Sex hormones control some of the most influential processes in the body. They play a part in pregnancy, puberty, regulating your cycle, menopause, hair growth, skin complexion, etc…Sadly, they also play a part when it comes to fat storage and muscle development.
Testosterone is so important for males, (even females have it too but at much lower levels), and is secreted by the testes in males and in much smaller doses in the ovaries in females. In the right amounts, testosterone can help to increase muscle mass and strength, and might also increase brain functions. But low levels of it can be detrimental.
Everyday lifestyle factors like proper sleep and maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise can go a long way in keeping your hormones in balance. One study showed that intense exercise, particularly interval training, has been shown to be a reliable Testosterone booster and saturated and monounsaturated fat were powerful predictors of testosterone levels.
The Symptoms of Low Testosterone Levels
These symptoms of low testosterone levels are both physical and Psychological. They include:
- Dry Eyes
- Decreased Strength
- Pale Face
- Muscle Mass Loss
- Infirm Skin
- Fat Gain in Abdomen
- Fat Gain on Chest
- Inability To Build Muscle
- Hair Loss
- Difficulties in achieving Orgasm
- Decrease In Bone Mass
- Female-Like Features in men
- Erective Problems
- Low Libido
- Feeling Stressed
- Irritability Depressive Feelings
- Lack of Energy
- Sleeping Problems, and
- Mood swings
The growth hormone is made by the pituitary gland, and work better with testosterone. In the correct amounts, growth hormone helps to increase muscle mass and decrease body fat.
Some people call it the anti-aging hormone. If you want to stave off signs of aging and increase muscle growth, the fastest method for increasing growth hormone in the body is through injection. However, that is not the safest route to go, as that has been linked to a lot of side effects.
Most people will likely have normal levels of growth hormone, especially, if they have proper nutrition and sleep patterns. High-intensity interval training is one of the reliable forms of exercise that help increase levels of growth hormone and potentially reduce aging effects.
Estrogen is normally thought of as a female hormone but is present in males as well. At regular levels, estrogen helps to regulate female reproductive cycles. In males, it is important for sex drive. In general, estrogen levels can impact how fat is stored in the body, and excess fat tissue can have a harmful side effect in both males and females.
Excess fat in males helps to turn testosterone into estradiol, which is a form of estrogen. It also converts androgens to estrogen, which is not good when you are trying to build muscle and maintain a lean physique.
The resulting estrogen imbalance can lead to more fat storage in both males and females body, resulting in negative effects.
Proper Diet and engaging in regular exercise are likely the best move against estrogen imbalances, and moderating the consumption of phytoestrogens like soy, may also help to keep estrogen levels balanced.
Since fat tissue is a dominant influence of estrogen, keeping body fat composition levels in healthy ranges can help maintain optimum estrogen levels in the body.
The Signs of Estrogen Dominance
These signs of estrogen dominance include external bodily symptoms, internal bodily symptoms, and psychological symptoms, as well, and can be found in male or female or both. They include:
- Thinning skin
- Thinning hair
- Weight gain
- Increased body hair
- Increased facial hair
- Brittle hair and nails
- Belly Fat
- Puffy Eyes
- Night Sweats
- Water retention
- Tingling hands and feet
- Decreased energy
- Hot flashes
- Hot flashes
- Sugar/carb cravings
- Vaginal dryness
- Heavy menstruation
- Tense breasts
- Cysts in ovaries/breasts
- Low libido
- Less energy
- Inflamed Joints
- Excessive worrying
- Panic attacks
- Concentration problems
- Depressed mood
- Irritability and
- Mood Swings
Insulin is well known for its role in diabetes, and it also plays a huge role in body metabolism. Insulin is an anabolic hormone that helps the body to build complex molecules.
When you eat during the day, the carbohydrates in the food enter your bloodstream, and the body then secretes insulin, which opens up the body cells to uptake blood sugar (glucose), in a process that enables the cells to build up their energy stores. This helps maintain blood sugar in check.
The danger is in over secretion of insulin, which can happen with poor dietary habits, resulting in our body developing an insulin resistance. Insulin resistance means that the cells aren’t as sensitive to insulin anymore, and this can lead to type II diabetes.
Careful eating practices, as well as exercises, are some of the most powerful medicines for a diabetic patient. A single workout session can mimic the effects of insulin on the body, helping to open up cells and shuttle in glucose. Thus, in the long run, you can increase your insulin sensitivity with exercises, and that can help mitigate the symptoms of insulin resistance.
Cortisol controls energy levels in times of stress. Periods of stress cause the body to break down proteins and release glucose into the bloodstream. This happens because the body thinks that the increased amounts of energy will help you escape danger or recover from the extreme effort.
A cortisol spike is usually seen during intense exercise and continues to rise as the workout session intensifies. However, exercises like running, strength training and other forms of exercise can help decrease stress levels.
Exercise cautiousness because too many hard sessions in a row could lead to overtraining, resulting in high levels of cortisol. Meditation is another powerful remedy for combating stress.
Though it appears minor, hormones can have a powerful effect on your body. Fortunately, you are not powerless against them, since understanding how and why they affect your health can help you in fixing their negative effects.
Healthy behaviors like regular exercise, proper nutrition and adequate sleep and rest can go a long way in keeping hormone levels balanced.
As a last resort, hormonal imbalances can be treated or corrected with hormonal replacement therapy.