Do these terms sound familiar to you?
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
Have you heard of the phrase “raging hormones”? Have you ever wondered what it means?
For starters, what is a hormone? Where does it reside? How does it help bodily functions? How do we build them? How are hormones connected to the ailments listed above?
If you’ve been diagnosed with any of the above and have been put on medication, have you deliberated about the problem?
Many of us do not understand the very bodies we live in. We feed it incorrectly; we mess with it in ways we don’t even understand, we cause damage unknowingly and then run from one test to another assuring ourselves that doctors will reverse everything.
No! A lot of doctors seem to be going about this the wrong way, and I speak from experience. Healthcare has become more about treating the symptoms than finding the cause. This is where one can and must take control and understand for oneself what medical practitioners instruct you to do.
There is a better way to managing your medical problems. Learn to take control! Understand! You don’t have to suffer through horrific side effects of medication.
Hormones are essential for some physiological reactions in the body including metabolism, reproductive processes, tissue growth, hydration levels, synthesis and degradation of muscle protein, and mood. Hormones are responsible for both building new muscle and helping burn fat.
Hormones are chemical messengers. For example, if you want to move something with your hands, the signal goes from the brain directly to the nerves, and this transfers to a muscle, which in turn enables the action. Think of the brain as an electrical circuit sending signals through the nerve. So in some ways, our brain communicates directly with our body. Hormones function differently from how the brain communicates with various parts of the body.
Hormones arouse activity by moving from one part of the body to another via the bloodstream. They, however, don’t need a connective path in a traditional sense. They use the bloodstream like airwaves and work their magic without connecting directly to a particular part of the body. You could visualize them as magicians waving a wand to make things happen ☺
So again, what are hormones?
They can be anything that has a signaling ability. Hormones can be tiny amino acids, or they could be really, really large proteins. If you remember the movie Avatar, the Na’vi warriors and their steeds, bond at a specified proximity and the connections work only if the Ikran finds the synergy. Think of each hormone this way. Each of these hormones, depending on where they are picked up, will find a receptor and channel along the blood stream to create that synergy. There is far too much detail in how hormones work, but I will refrain from elaborating any further.
Hormones are divided into three subcategories:
Endocrine ——– work from a far away distance
Paracrine ———- work in a particular region closer to where they are made
Autocrine ———- work directly where they are made—on the cell
All of this together is known as endocrinology or the endocrine system, which is primarily made up of glands—two major glands in the endocrine system that regulate bodily functions include the pituitary and hypothalamus.
In the diagram, you see the orange ball? The ball is located at the base of the brain. I asked earlier where hormones came from? Well, you have your answer—pituitary gland.
You might be familiar with the term ‘thyroid testing.’ Often done when a doctor suspects a problem with thyroid secretions. The parameters to be tested often include: TSH, T4, T3, etc. TSH or thyroid stimulating hormones are created in the pituitary glands. When the pituitary gland releases TSH, it goes into circulation where it acts on the thyroid glands. This stimulates the gland to release T3 and T4—triodothyromine and thyroxine respectively.
What do these do?
They regulate your metabolism, muscle function, etc. Someone with excess thyroid hormones will have a rapid metabolism and weight loss, and inversely someone with a deficient thyroid hormone will have a slower metabolism and weight gain.
Familiarly known as Hyperthyroidism and Hypothyroidism.
If your pituitary gland makes lesser hormones than required, consider yourself in some serious trouble.
The pituitary gland is the master orchestrator that controls the production of TSH in relation to the body’s requirements. It also makes a hormone called ACTH—adrenal corticotrophic hormone.
ACTH acts on the adrenal cortex, and it produces the adrenal hormone, cortisol (fight or flight hormone) that’s essential in maintaining overall well being—glucose metabolism, blood sugar, blood pressure, water and salt balance, etc. The pituitary also makes the luteinizing hormone and the follicle-stimulating hormone—LH and FSH. LH and FSH are essential components for women during menses. Hormones regulate the menstrual cycle. Luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone, which are produced by the pituitary gland, promote ovulation and stimulate the ovaries to produce estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen and progesterone stimulate the uterus and breasts to prepare for possible fertilization. The LH and FSH act on what is called the gonads, which means they act on the testes in the male to produce sperms and on the ovaries in females to produce the egg. It also plays a part in providing gonadal steroids, importantly testosterone in the male and estradiol in the female.
If you’ve had issues with your menses, then blood test parameters will include FSH and LH testing.
Do exercise and diet change things up? Yes, they do and I will tackle diet first exercise later.
Can our food habits interfere with our bodies? Yes! Food most certainly can. Since our body is a machine and all parts work in synchronicity with the others, a small error in communication in one place could lead to errors in so many others.
Take the example of thyroid secretion—if the body secrets lesser or more amounts of thyroid hormones than required, we begin to notice changes.
Too much T3 or T4, you will experience:
Irritability or moodiness
Sweating or sensitivity to high temperatures
Missed or light menstrual periods
Too little T3 or T4, you will experience:
Tiredness and fatigue
Dry skin and hair
Sensitivity to cold temperature
Frequent, heavy periods
Joint and muscle pain
How does the error in communication happen in this particular case? Remember we spoke of the endocrine system? Now if you’ve read that carefully, you will know there are glands involved in producing hormones. What happens if the endocrine system has interference?
If a machine runs smoothly and you suddenly introduce an obstacle in its path, it might stop running altogether; it might crush the obstacle and move on or if the stress is a repeated one, then over a period, the machine begins to malfunction before it shuts down completely.
Our bodies work somewhat like this as well. The stress could be one time or repetitive in nature. Now stress can be varied: physiological or psychological. This stress impacts the endocrine system, and one of the biggest contributing factors to this disruption is FOOD!
What foods might interfere with your endocrine system? The answer is straightforward and complicated at the same time. For starters, think about the following:
Vegetable and seed oils: corn, sunflower, safflower, soybean, cottonseed, canola, grapeseed, and rice bran. These oils are extracted using high heat and chemical solvents, which in turn strips the seed or vegetable off of its nutrients. What you end up with are damaged fats that cause inflammation and hormone imbalances.
Bread: White, Wheat, and Multi-grain. Try reading the fine print to see the real ingredients. Processed whole grains are stripped off of their nutrients. What you end up with are empty calories. Beware of terms such as “all natural” and “gluten-free.”
Deli Meats: cold cuts, salami, bacon, sausages, smoked ham, or any processed meat. Freezer burn, dyes, sodium nitrates, etc. are endocrine disruptors.
Phthalate, Parabens, BPA, : Bisphenol A mimics estrogen and disrupts the endocrine system causing abnormalities in reproductive organs like the uterus, vagina, and ovaries. Each time you reuse a Bisleri water bottle, use cosmetics, use a shower curtain, carry leftovers or a to-go plastic packet from a restaurant with food in it, think again. These plastic containers leach BPA into your food and cause some irreversible damage.
Sugar: Do I need to elaborate?
Try if you can to step away from these toxic elements and remove them from your diet right away.
Next post, EXERCISE! Yeah, baby!