Hormone Balance: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments
Dr. Nikhil Eric Saldanha
January 26, 2022
Dr. Nikhil Eric Saldanha
January 26, 2022
Hormones play a significant role in our mental, physical, and emotional well-being. The endocrine glands secrete the proper hormones required by our body to perform different functions. They circulate through the bloodstream, assisting tissues and organs to work effectively. Unfortunately, the changes due to the modern lifestyle have made hormonal imbalances very common. Hormones also fluctuate due to ageing. However, a nutritious and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle can bring the hormonal levels under control and help the body function properly.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter. Our body produces the hormone, and the nervous system uses it to send signals between nerve cells. Hence, you may also know it as a ‘chemical messenger’, responsible for our mood, learning capacity, sleep, and appetite. Regular exercise aids in improving the dopamine level of the brain. It relieves the brain from stress and anxiety. It promotes ‘feel-good’ transmitters in the body
Serotonin sends signals to nerve cells. It is primarily in the digestive tract. Other than that, it is also present in blood platelets. It helps get proper sleep, and lack of serotonin results in poor sleep, stress and irregular bowel movement.
Exercise boosts tryptophan, an amino acid that the brain uses to generate serotonin. In addition, endorphins, often known as happy hormones, are released during physical activity and help to alleviate pain and inflammation.
Testosterone is the primary male hormone. This determines a man’s muscle mass, strength, sex drive, and sperm count. Its secretion naturally falls with age. However, consistent exercising promotes testosterone release. It fights the symptoms of low testosterone levels.
Estrogen is the female hormone responsible for reproductive growth. Improper secretion of this hormone leads to different health problems. Regular exercise keeps the level of this hormone in check and prevents any symptoms from showing up.
If you do not eat adequate food, you may experience hormonal changes, resulting in weight-related problems. As per studies, excessive eating raises insulin levels and impair insulin sensitivity. Ghrelin and leptin are two hormones that control appetite. Ghrelin enhances hunger while leptin curbs it. When you do not eat for long, ghrelin signals the body, and you feel hungry. At the same time, leptin signals the body of feeling full while eating.
Foods high in fat, sugar, and carbs make your body release serotonin’s feel-good hormone. It makes you eat more junk food high in fat and calories. According to studies, the body gradually associates pleasure with eating these foods, and you start eating even if you are not hungry. It renders the two hormones ghrelin and leptin useless, and the body consumes food arbitrarily without any control. It results in numerous side effects on the overall health.
Egg yolks are high in vitamins A and D, biotin, iodine, and selenium. These elements activate the inactive thyroid hormones present in eggs.
Our body requires iodine to produce thyroid hormones. Since our body doesn’t produce iodine, consuming food rich in iodine is crucial. Lack of sufficient iodine in the body leads to goitre. It is a condition with an enlarged thyroid gland. The selenium present in the thyroid gland is more than any other body organ. It is essential for a balanced and proper production of thyroid hormone.
The absence of selenium may result in hyperthyroidism. It is a condition where the thyroid gland excessively produces the thyroxine hormone. Since eggs contain selenium, consuming eggs is helpful for a healthy hormonal balance.
Green tea is rich in theanine, a molecule that limits cortisol production in the body. Cortisol is a stress hormone. If released in abundance, it makes us feel stressed and anxious. It is therefore essential to regulate the production of this hormone. It relaxes the body and also helps in getting good sleep. Also containing antioxidants, which help prevent inflammation.
Green tea contains antioxidants. Two of them are catechin and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). According to studies, these compounds lower hormones like insulin and oestrogen present in the blood and further prevent the formation of tumours in the body.
Drinking green tea balances progesterone levels in the body. It is an essential female hormone. The lack of it leads to problems during pregnancy, irregular menstruation and healthy reproductive growth.
The thyroid gland is adversely affected by smoking cigarettes in various ways. It causes stimulatory and inhibitory effects on the functioning of the thyroid. Smoking causes Graves’ illness, Graves’ ophthalmopathy, and thyroid hormone abnormalities. The cause of Graves’ disease is excessive thyroid hormone secretion. In addition, tobacco smoke has several toxins, like thiocyanate. It disrupts the balance of thyroid hormones.
The levels of endogenous steroid hormones are affected by cigarette smoking. For example, smoking causes an abrupt increase in cortisol levels. In addition, it increases anxiety and stress.
Whenever the body experiences hormonal imbalances, it starts showing specific symptoms. These symptoms are indicators for us to control and bring the hormones back to a healthy level. Its more common to experience these symptoms during adolescence, menstruation, pregnancy and postpartum, premenopause, and menopause.
Hormones form a tiny portion of our entire body, but they can cause serious health problems if they are out of balance. Therefore, it is critical to figure out the leading cause of hormonal imbalance and fluctuation. It is important to note that these symptoms are generic and may not always reflect a hormone imbalance.
Some of them are:
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is females’ most frequent hormonal problem during reproductive age. The hormone levels change during puberty, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause. The symptoms of hormonal imbalance in women include:
Testosterone is the primary hormone responsible for male development. The irregularity in the production of male hormones results in several symptoms. They include:
Our body needs foods high in essential elements like vitamins and minerals. Therefore, a dietary imbalance may cause a hormonal imbalance. In addition, our diet plays a critical part in maintaining hormone balance. Consequently, we must supply our bodies with adequate nutrients to function properly.
Our adrenal glands aid in the secretion of stress-fighting hormones. Constant stress to our minds and bodies negatively affects these glands. They get overworked and fail to discharge their functions effectively. As a result, it’s critical to take a break and relax whenever we are stressed. One should contact a doctor if this happens frequently.
These therapies and pills may help in birth control. However, women who frequently use hormone replacement therapy or birth control tablets have difficulty balancing their hormones. In addition, the symptoms persist even after you discontinue the medications and HRT. Therefore, you should visit a doctor before beginning any such therapy or medicine.
Cortisol is a hormone that our body produces in response to stress. An excess of cortisol causes Cushing syndrome. In addition, constant pressure exposes your body to high quantities of cortisol for a longer duration. It impacts the number of other hormones present in the body. Chronic stress can result in high blood pressure, fatigue, insomnia and weight gain.
A doctor might use various kinds of tests to diagnose a hormonal imbalance. The symptoms help identify the possible underlying problem of the body. Therefore, it is essential that you completely describe all the signs to the doctor.
One of the most prevalent methods for determining hormone levels is a blood test. This test can detect testosterone levels, oestrogen, cortisol, and thyroid hormones. Saliva tests also indicate the level of hormones in the body and can inform about estradiol, progesterone, and testosterone levels.
If your doctor wants to examine any specific gland, an ultrasound is most suitable. The pituitary gland, uterus, testicles, ovaries, and thyroid can be tested using ultrasound. Additional imaging options include an X-ray or an MRI. A biopsy of a dysfunctional gland can assist your doctor figure out what’s wrong with that particular gland.
Hormones are crucial for healthy body function. Hormonal imbalance can disrupt the capacity of the body to carry out even the most basic tasks. Hormones help regulate metabolism, heart rate, sleep, reproductive function, sexual function, general growth, physical development, stress, and body temperature. The absence of a balanced amount of hormones leads to many health issues. Some can accumulate over time and can result in chronic diseases. Therefore, it is essential to be actively responsive to any symptom from hormonal imbalance.
A: There are several symptoms of hormonal imbalance. Some are headaches, fatigue, irritability, dry skin and scalp, frequent bowel movement and urination, excessive hair growth or hair fall, irregular menstrual cycle, short attention span, excessive sweating, loss of muscle etc.
A: Yes. By adopting a healthy lifestyle and consuming a nutritious diet, you can balance hormones without taking medications. Exercising, getting proper sleep, eating healthy, relieving stress, cutting down on tobacco are some ways that help balance hormones.
A: There are several hormonal imbalances and not just 5. However, the five most common imbalances in hormones are high and low cortisol, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and insulin.
A: The causes of hormonal imbalance are numerous. For example, it can result from medical conditions like diabetes. Diabetes happens because of improper insulin secretion, hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. Addison’s disease and hypoglycemia are other such disorders.
A: Vitamin D transfers signals and communicates with other hormones essential for our body. Vitamin B is also necessary for the healthy functioning of hormones. It detoxifies the glands and hormones in the body.
A: High-intensity workouts with short rest intervals are good for hormonal imbalance. They include squats, lunges, pull-ups, crunches, and push-ups. These hormones are present in increased quantities after intensive workouts. It activates our nervous system and signals the brain to release various essential hormones. Exercise makes us feel better, too, because of the release of the feel-good hormone dopamine.
A: Foods that contain good fats like nuts and seed oils, whole grains, low sugar fruits like apples, healthy herbs and spices like garlic and coriander help balance hormones. Flaxseeds, broccoli, avocados, legumes and tofu are also suitable for hormones.
A: Yes, green tea balances hormones. Catechin and epigallocatechin gallate are two antioxidants in green tea that lower the hormone insulin level. It helps fight and prevent diabetes. Green tea also produces theanine that limits the secretion of cortisol. Extra cortisol in the body leads to depression and anxiety.
A: Yes. Massage leads to stimulation of various glands. It results in dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, adrenaline, and cortisol secretion. Adrenaline increases the alertness of the body and mind, dopamine makes people feel good and positive, and serotonin regulates mood and appetite. In addition, oxytocin enhances the feeling of bonding and attachment with loved ones. At the same time, cortisol releases when one is in danger. It increases the stress level of the body.
A: Incorporating healthy food habits and a better lifestyle significantly affects and balances hormones in the body. You can also take medications to regulate hormone levels in the body. A lot of people also opt for hormone replacement therapy. It involves taking bioidentical or synthetic hormones.
A: Although multiple hormones are present in our body, the main hormones responsible for crucial body functioning are estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, insulin, cortisol, adrenaline and thyroid hormones.
A: Yes, they do—lack of sufficient testosterone results in accumulated fat at the back of the arms. Excess oestrogen and insulin in women lead to fat accumulation around the hip and thigh area. Extra cortisol causes fat storage in the middle region of the body and results in an enlarged midsection. Finally, excess thyroid hormones make the body fat store near the armpits.
A: Fruits rich in antioxidants like apples and blueberries are beneficial for hormones. Avocados promote estrogen levels and lower testosterone levels. Low sugar fruits like citrus fruits and pears are also suitable for hormones.
A: There is no standard duration. It varies depending on the type and the severity of the hormonal imbalance. However, if one is consistent with eating healthy, it takes around 3 to 4 weeks to see results.
A: There are a plethora of foods harmful to hormonal balance. Red meat causes estrogen levels to increase and disrupts its balance in the body. Soy products contain phytoestrogen that performs functions similar to estrogen. In addition, dairy products increase the number of triglycerides and enhance the risk of diabetes, and caffeine promotes the release of cortisol levels in the body. It puts the mind and body under a lot of stress.
A: Glycemic Index measures how much any food affects the blood sugar level. Foods with a high glycemic index, such as white bread, fruit juice, and sugar, raise insulin levels and alter how oestrogen, a female sex hormone, is absorbed. Conversely, protein-rich food enhances the release of hormones like insulin, estrogen and eicosanoids.
A: Several factors influence hormonal balance among women. Some of them are foods, the amount of exercise done, the chemicals absorbed, stress, puberty, menopause and onset of the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and breastfeeding, medical problems etc.