For our cells and organs to know how to behave they have to receive signals. Hormones are the body's messengers that carry these chemical signals to regulate all of our body's functions. They control everything from our most basic needs like hunger, thirst, and sleep to incredibly complex systems like reproduction and digestion. They even play significant roles in our moods and emotions.
Hormones are created in the endocrine gland as well as some other glands throughout the body, and there are many different hormones with numerous different functions, which all work in conjunction with one another to keep us functioning. Imbalances in one can cause imbalances in another, and these imbalances can cause some adverse effects on the body. When one or more of our hormones are not at the right level, our organs and systems cannot function optimally.
Hormones and Digestion
The digestive tracts of men and women are different although they perform the same general function for everyone - the breakdown of food, absorption of nutrients, and elimination of waste. The differences stem from the different hormones present and how those hormones affect digestion. Estrogen and progesterone both play roles in aspects of digestion like fluid retention and the production of digestive enzymes.
Men and women have different levels of these hormones. Women have natural hormone fluctuations with menstruation, which for some women affects their digestion. Digestive upset like constipation, diarrhea and bloating are often the result of a person's diet but sometimes are associated with changes in hormone levels.
When most people think of blood sugar, they immediately think of insulin, which is a hormone. Along with insulin, several other lesser-known hormones also impact your body's blood sugar regulation. Glucagon, amylin, cortisol, epinephrine and several others play significant roles. Any of these hormones being lower or higher than they should be impacts the others and can cause a chain reaction resulting in fluctuations in blood sugar levels.
Unexplained Weight Gain
Several different hormonal imbalances can result in weight gain as well as trouble losing said weight. Belly fat, in particular, is an indicator of a hormone imbalance. Your hormones affect not only your metabolism but also your appetite and fat storage. Having high estrogen, low testosterone, high insulin, high cortisol or low DHEA can all contribute to unexplained weight gain that is hard to get off and keep off.
Sudden, prolonged fatigue with no other source, especially in women, is one of the main signs of a hormonal imbalance. Low levels of either estrogen, progesterone or both can cause chronic fatigue. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, may also play a role.
Several hormones directly impact the production of chemicals in the brain that affects your moods such as dopamine and serotonin. Other hormones travel along the same pathways, so fluctuations in their numbers can impact other brain chemicals. The three top hormones associated with depression and other mood changes are estrogen, progesterone, and cortisol.
- Estrogen boosts serotonin and raises your endorphins, both of which are known to improve your mood and happiness.
- Progesterone balances your estrogen and has calming effects on its own. Either of these being low can result in a depressed mood.
- Cortisol being either too low or too high can cause agitation.
Menstruation comes with some natural shifts in hormone levels. These variations result in different symptoms for different women, but they include things like bloating, cramps, acne breakouts, irritability and changes in digestion. This varied collection of symptoms is known commonly as Premenstrual Syndrome or PMS. For some women, the fluctuations are much more extreme and can make menstruation increasingly challenging and unpleasant. These people experience worse PMS symptoms like significant mood changes, mood swings, hot flashes, more severe cramps, and other symptoms.
A more rare condition, Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder or PMDD, causes symptoms that are even more extreme than those of PMS which can impact your quality of life. It is thought to be an even more severe hormonal imbalance associated with menstruation or possibly an unusual reaction to the normal fluctuations in hormones. It results in a massive serotonin deficiency.
About the Author
Dr. Donna Sergi is a Brooklyn Chiropractor who is also one of the country's leading Nutrition Response Testing Practitioners. Learn more about Natural Hormonal Imbalance Remedies by visiting her website.