Your brain is in constant communication with the rest of your body every day via your hormones. Your hormones work together in order to help you maintain equilibrium, or homeostasis. Depending on the signals being sent to your brain, these different hormone levels are constantly fluctuating.
There are a number of reasons why you might develop a hormonal imbalance, which can happen at any stage of life. For example, hormonal imbalances tied to adrenal fatigue or PMS often affect younger women. Older women and men experience other imbalances like higher-than-normal cortisol levels, low estrogen, or low testosterone.
What causes these hormones to fluctuate? Well, many things, including:
- high stress levels
- poor gut health
- vitamin D deficiency, tied to too little UV light exposure or obesity
- a lack of sleep, or too little rest and relaxation
- too much or too little exercise
- environmental exposure to toxins
- unhealthy lifestyle choices including smoking, high alcohol consumption, or using drugs
Typically, hormonal problems are treated using medications. They may or may not work to improve symptoms depending on the person. These include:
- hormone replacement therapy
- birth control pills
- insulin injections
- fertility drugs
- thyroid medications
In some cases, medications might mask the symptoms of hormonal problems and not address the underlying cause.
Many people already lead a stressful and busy life. When you factor in a poor diet and lack of nutrition, it’s no wonder that endocrine and metabolic disorders affect such a high percentage of people.
Try natural remedies for balancing hormones, especially a hormone-friendly diet. It may do a better job of addressing the root causes before you turn to medication.
The energy and nutrients you obtain from your diet are the raw materials your body needs to produce hormones and properly fuel your body. For example, many reproductive hormones are derived from cholesterol, which comes from foods like whole-fat dairy, eggs, butter, or meat.
Also, hormones always impact one another. That’s why it’s said that within the endocrine system “everything is connected.” This means if your body is producing high levels of certain hormones like cortisol, levels of other hormones will likely drop — like estrogen, progesterone, thyroid hormones, or testosterone.
Your body makes most of your hormones from precursors, which are also called prehormones. Precursors serve as shortcuts for producing hormones with less effort and time. For example, the prehormone called pregnenolone (often called a “mother hormone”) can be turned into either the reproductive hormone progesterone or the stress hormone DHEA. Depending on your body’s current needs at any given time, either one of these hormones will be produced, leaving less energy for making the other.
Here’s the thing: If your diet doesn’t supply enough energy or “materials” to make all the hormones you need, it’ll prioritize production of stress hormones first because they’re essential for survival.
Your body doesn’t consider reproductive hormones and those responsible for metabolic functions (i.e., thyroid hormones) as its first priority. Therefore, during times of high stress, you may develop unhealthy fluctuations in your hormone levels.
And stress can come from emotional or physical sources, stemming from anything like not eating enough calories, not sleeping well, or having an infection or illness.
So, how can you equip yourself against stress? Well, you can’t control which hormones your body naturally produces. But giving it a foundation to effectively handle hormone homeostasis through a high-quality, nutrient-dense diet is the first step.