By Zoe Bradbury
Hormones are produced by our endocrine glands, the adrenals, thyroid, pancreas and ovaries or testes.
These are incredibly important to the essential function of our bodies, as hormones act as a sort of ‘chemical messenger;’ sending out important warning signs and messages, through the bloodstream and to the organs and tissues.
Essentially, our hormones help ensure everything is running smoothly in the body – and when there is an imbalance of hormones, either too many or too little, this can impact a whole range of important bodily functions.
According to Medical News Daily, almost everyone will be affected by a hormonal imbalance at least once or twice in their lifetime. But for some, imbalances can be ongoing, and some may not even be aware of the issue.
Here are some of the different types of hormonal imbalances and symptoms to be aware of.
You may have: a thyroid imbalance
The main purpose of the thyroid gland is to “run the body’s metabolism,” according to James Norman MD from Endocrineweb, but the thyroid also influences almost all of the metabolic processes in the body.
As such, people who do not produce enough of the thyroid hormone, called an underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism, can often have issues with a slow metabolism. This makes it very easy to gain weight, and can also lead to feeling sluggish or tired, as a drop in hormone levels can drastically affect energy levels.
Too much of the thyroid hormones, called hyperthyroidism, can cause the metabolism to speed up. This can cause people to lose weight quickly, become more sensitive to heat, and have irregular or fast heart palpations.
How is it tested? Through a blood test from your doctor.
You may have: A cortisol imbalance
Cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands on the kidneys and is known as the body’s “stress” hormone, helping to control mood, fear and motivation. Additionally, cortisol helps to manage how the body uses carbohydrates, fats and proteins. It also regulates blood pressure and increases the level of blood sugar (glucose) within the body.
Too much cortisol in the body can lead to a condition called Cushing syndrome. This can cause rapid weight gain, particularly around the middle or upper body, skin that bruises easily, diabetes and even osteoporosis.
Too little cortisol can result in a condition called Addison’s disease, which can lead to extreme fatigue, weight loss and decreased appetite, darkening of the skin and low blood pressure.
How is it tested: A blood test conducted by a doctor, usually done twice a day – in the morning, when cortisone levels are at their highest, and again around 4pm when the levels are generally lower. Other tests may include a urine or saliva test.
You may have: An insulin resistance
Produced by the pancreas, insulin is responsible for controlling the amount of sugar (glucose) in the blood. When the cells in body fat, muscles and liver start to ignore or resist the signal for glucose to transition from the bloodstream to the cells, which gives the body energy, this causes insulin resistance.
When this happens, the body is forced to produce more and more insulin in order to keep up with the demand. Overtime, this can raise blood sugar levels, which can lead to developing Type II diabetes or heart disease.
Insulin resistance can occur from too much belly fat, lack of exercise and smoking, and It can often be signified by having a large waist – for women, over 35 inches, and for men, over 40 inches.
How is it tested? Doctors will first use a blood test, often followed by a fasting plasma glucose test or an oral glucose tolerance test.
Qualified nutritionist, PT and wellness coach Nik Toth, otherwise known as Bondi’s Lean Body Coach, says that one of the first things in addressing hormonal issues is looking at the gut and liver health.
“The liver is like a traffic controller for all our hormones, so if the liver is clogged up and eliminating caffeine and alcohol, pesticides and environmental toxins, then it can harder to balance hormones,” she said.
“But first and foremost, gut health needs to be addressed, because the gut is supported by the liver as well.”
Gut health is important, because the gut is responsible for breaking down and absorbing the nutrients from food. This helps support energy production, hormone balance, skin health, mental health and toxic and waste elimination, according to healthline.
Click here for more reasons as to why gut health is so important.
Other ways to treat hormonal imbalances can include medication or hormone replacement therapies issued by doctors.
As always, with any health condition, seek medical advice and testing before embarking on any suggested remedies.
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