What are hormones and why are they so important?

What are hormones?

Hormones are very important chemical messengers that are created by various glands in the endocrine system. They all work closely together and affect many aspects of our overall health. If one is slightly imbalanced it can create a cascade of imbalance in other hormones too.

Hormones carry messages between cells and organs through the blood stream to tell these cells what to do and they control most bodily functions.

They control everything from reproduction, digestion, metabolism, emotions and even hunger, satiety and more.

When our hormones are in balance and functioning properly our body thrives and we feel great, and when they are out of balance, we can experience health issues that make us feel absolutely miserable.

How Imbalanced Hormones Affected My Life

I suffered from hormone imbalances for most of my life that started at a very young age. From the start of my menstrual cycle in my early teens, I had quite intense symptoms every month such as nausea and vomiting, horrible cramping, excruciatingly tender breasts and headaches, and I just felt miserable. It was so bad I would have to miss school.

Of course the solution to this at the time was to put me on birth control to manage the symptoms, or should I say suppress the symptoms! Unfortunately this did nothing to address the root cause of why I was experiencing these symptoms in the first place. This wasn’t even recognized as a hormonal imbalance that could lead to bigger issues in the future. Not to mention the harm that was being caused by the birth control pills!

And indeed it did lead to bigger issues such as gallbladder surgery at 17 years old and uterine fibroids (due to estrogen dominance), along with a whole host of other health issues over the years.

It was only many, many years later when I was studying to become a Holistic Nutrition Practitioner that I connected the dots that my hormonal imbalances stemmed from childhood and the root cause was my poor digestive health, compromised liver health and poor microbiome.


Research shows that gut health plays a major role in regulating hormones. Improving gut health must be addressed when trying to re-establish hormonal balance.


Had I known this and taken action, I could have avoided most of the health problems that I have struggled with over the years.

We are conditioned to accept these symptoms and health issues as normal, but just because these symptoms are “common” does not mean that they are “normal”.

There is no need to suffer! There is so much that you can do to balance your hormones naturally and get off the roller coaster.

And it is for this very reason, that I am now so dedicated to helping women learn how to best nourish their body’s to experience optimal wellness, feel their absolute best and live their best lives.

Let’s look at a few key hormone systems to see just how important their role is in our overall health and well-being.

Hypothalamus: Signals the production of other hormones and in doing so, helps regulate things like hunger, moods, sleep, body temperature and sex drive.

Thymus: Produces the hormone thymosin, which helps regulate the immune system. The thymus shrinks as we age, but now scientists are not sure it is supposed to, which means that perhaps good nutrition could help maintain better immune function as we age. This is something to think about, right…

Pancreas: Insulin produced in the pancreas is a key hormone and its sole function is to help blood sugar get into the cells so we have the energy we need for our cells to function. However, too much insulin has been implicated in many health issues.

Thyroid:  Hormones produced by our thyroid are associated with metabolism and heart rate. If you have trouble losing weight – your thyroid may not be functioning optimally.

Adrenals: There are many hormones produced by the adrenal glands but their main function is to help us cope with stress, both physical and mental. Because of this, the adrenals rule the roost in the body. This is because protecting us from danger is considered to be one of the most vital systems in the body and because of that, when we are stressed, the adrenals can cause all kinds of havoc with other body systems and hormones. Unfortunately the adrenal glands don’t know the difference between real danger and perceived danger (due to our hectic and stressful lifestyle).

Pituitary: This is a master endocrine gland that produces hormones that tell other glands and organs to produce more hormones. However, hormones from the adrenals like cortisol or insulin from the pancreas can override the pituitary and interfere with other hormones relationships where the pituitary is involved.

Of course, the hormones that often concern most people are the reproductive hormones.

In women, the ovaries produce estrogen, progesterone and small amounts of testosterone before menopause.

After menopause, it is the adrenals that take over this important role and produce these hormones to keep women healthy and in balance. Women with adrenal fatigue or HPA axis dysfunction is often why women experience unpleasant symptoms during menopause.

For men, the testes produce testosterone and small amounts of estrogen and progesterone.

These are just a few of the hormonal relationships in our body. Balanced hormones and a healthy gut are the key to having a body in balance.

When our hormones are balanced our body thrives. But even small imbalances can create a cascade effect in other key hormones and can lead to various health issues.

Food and lifestyle can help immensely to nourish the various body systems so they work in harmony in a more balanced way. I have included a delicious and refreshing hormone balancing recipe for you below.

To get you started I have created a guide for you with the “Top 10 Hormone Balancing Foods”.


Download your free copy 

TOP TEN HORMONE BALANCING FOODS


Helping you make sense of it all


I know it can seem overwhelming and confusing when you are starting out on your health journey, I can help. Book your FREE 30 Minute Coaching Call. 

It all starts with making small changes and knowing where to turn when you need a little guidance.

If you are ready to make some changes regarding your health and don’t know where to start, I am here to help! Let’s chat.

We can discuss your health concerns, health goals and some simple strategies and you can determine if a holistic approach is right for you.


 

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1592668/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24997034

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28778332

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5414803/


Print Recipe
Tabbouleh
Servings
1
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup dry quinoa (rinsed)
  • 2 cups water (filtered)
  • 1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
  • 1 green spring onion, chopped
  • 1 handful mint leaves, chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cucumber, diced
  • 1/2 large lemon
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 romaine lettuce leaves
Servings
1
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup dry quinoa (rinsed)
  • 2 cups water (filtered)
  • 1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
  • 1 green spring onion, chopped
  • 1 handful mint leaves, chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cucumber, diced
  • 1/2 large lemon
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 romaine lettuce leaves
Instructions
  1. To cook quinoa: Rinse the quinoa in a sieve. Place in a pot with two cups of water and a pinch of sea salt. Bring to a boil and lower to a simmer. Let cook for 15 minutes until fluffy. Remove from heat and rinse in sieve again. Set aside until ready to use.
  2. Chop parsley, spring onion, and mint leaves into small bits and put in a large bowl. Chop tomato and cucumber and add to the parsley mix.
  3. To make dressing, squeeze the juice of the 1/2 lemon into a small bowl, add olive oil, cumin, salt and pepper and whisk.
  4. Add dressing and cooked quinoa to parsley mixture and toss. Chill in refrigerator before serving. Place torn romaine lettuce leaves on plate and top with tabbouleh and serve. Enjoy.

joanne xo