Get On A Regular Sleep Schedule
Our circadian rhythm, our 24-hour internal clock, regulates hormone release cycles, including ACTH and cortisol, as well as most physiological processes in the body. Light and dark cycles, mealtimes, and physical activity help the brain maintain the circadian rhythm.
Your body relies on the pineal gland to produce the hormone melatonin to maintain this 24-hour cycle. Adenosine, a byproduct of metabolism, accumulates in the brain throughout the day. When melatonin levels go up and enough adenosine has accumulated, you become sleepy. As you sleep, adenosine is metabolized and its levels decrease. Caffeine blocks adenosine receptors, promoting alertness.
Poor sleep habits stress the body. Initial symptoms of lack of sleep include fatigue, memory problems, and irritability. Since sleep replenishes chemicals used by the immune system throughout the day, a lack of sleep adversely weakens the immune system, making you more susceptible to infections.
A regular sleep cycle promotes the release of growth hormones. Growth hormone release peaks during deep sleep. Growth hormone release is reduced due to irregular sleeping habits because you often do not reach deep sleep stages.
Lack of sleep also decreases leptin levels and increases ghrelin levels, which can contribute to weight gain. Researchers have shown that lack of sleep increases cravings for calorie-dense foods high in carbohydrates . Weight gain increases the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
Ways To Balance Your Hormones Naturally
While hormonal imbalances sometimes require working with an endocrinologist or another specialist, you have tremendous power over balancing your hormones naturally. Start with what you eat. A hormone-balancing diet includes the right foods to steady your blood sugar levels and optimize insulin levels. When you support a healthy diet with the right nutrients and lifestyle factors, you can dramatically improve hormone levels. These 7 strategies provide a solid starting point.
Types Of Hormones In Birth Control
Today, the most common synthetic estrogen in hormonal contraceptives is ethinyl estradiol .
Synthetic progestin is not chemically identical to progesterone, but binds to progesterone hormone receptor sites .
Choosing a type of hormonal contraceptive is a personal choice based on your body and your reproductive health goals. Talk to your healthcare provider about the risks, benefits and side effects of each type to find the best option for you.
Let’s support one another.
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The Truth About Birth Control Pills And Hormones
About 150 million women all over the world use oral contraceptives, also known as birth control pills. Oral contraceptives are most commonly associated with preventing pregnancy, but they are also frequently used to reduce symptoms that may occur with menstruation, such as irregular periods, premenstrual syndrome , premenstrual dysphoric disorder , cramping, pain, heavy flow, endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome , fibroids, and more. Many women have misconceptions about how these hormonal contraceptives affect the body and brain and how they influence overall health. Its time to clear up the confusion.
When Eating Carbs Choose Complex Carbs
While complex carbs are an important part of a nutritious diet, refined or simple carbs dont usually contain a lot of fiber or micronutrients and are digested very quickly.
Refined carbs include simple sugars as well as grains that have had the fibrous parts removed. Some examples are cereal with added sugar, highly processed fast foods, foods made with refined flour like certain breads and pastries, and white rice .
Regularly consuming refined carbs can lead to several health problems, including high insulin levels and weight gain (
Replacing refined carbs, which are digested quickly and can sharply raise blood sugar, with slower-digesting complex carbs and whole grains may help lower insulin levels.
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Consider Supplements And Alternative Medicines
There is some evidence that alternative therapies or supplements may address some hormonal issues.
For instance, a found that a Chinese herbal therapy routine resulted in doubled pregnancy rates among female participants with infertility when compared to Western, drug-based treatment.
A reports that Nigella sativa, known as black seeds or fennel flower seeds, helped raise estrogen levels in an animal model.
If studies in humans confirm these findings, the supplement may be beneficial for people going through menopause.
The following tip may benefit males:
What Does The Endocrine System Do And How Does It Work
Your endocrine system continuously monitors the amount of hormones in your blood. Hormones deliver their messages by locking into the cells they target so they can relay the message.
The pituitary gland senses when your hormone levels rise, and tells other glands to stop producing and releasing hormones. When hormone levels dip below a certain point, the pituitary gland can instruct other glands to produce and release more. This process, called homeostasis, works similarly to the thermostat in your house. Hormones affect nearly every process in your body, including:
- Metabolism .
- Growth and development.
- Blood pressure.
Sometimes glands produce too much or not enough of a hormone. This imbalance can cause health problems, such as weight gain, high blood pressure and changes in sleep, mood and behavior. Many things can affect how your body creates and releases hormones. Illness, stress and certain medications can cause a hormone imbalance.
Doing It All Takes Its Toll
Natasha Turner, a naturopathic doctor and New York Times bestselling author of The Supercharged Hormone Diet, concurs.
Everything you do, say, think or feel impacts your hormones, she says. During our 30s and 40s, were especially stressed out while we try to do it all. Prolonged stress depletes progesterone, the hormone that makes us feel calm, improves sleep, prevents breast tenderness and wards off mood swings. In its place, the stress hormone cortisol appears and, along with it, a personalized cocktail of symptoms that can range from weight gain and cravings to acne and insomnia, signalling a hormone imbalance. Later, when perimenopause appears, both estrogen and progesterone levels start to change, kick-starting another hormonal roller coaster.
But how do you know if youre experiencing bad PMS or entering perimenopause? The big clue is your cycles, says Dr. Esther Konigsberg, an integrative medical consultant based in Toronto and Burlington, ON. Her practice, Integrative Medicine Consultants Inc., integrates conventional, lifestyle, complementary and alternative medicine. If youve been cycling every 28 to 30 days, then all of a sudden your cycle shortens, thats a sign you are entering perimenopause. Hot flashes, insomnia, vaginal dryness and a low sex drive are new annoyances that may appear. Once you start skipping periods, then youre officially transitioning into menopause.
What Are The Treatment Options
Hormone replacement therapy is one of the most common treatments of low hormone levels.
For people experiencing menopause, premature menopause, or primary ovarian insufficiency as well as after oophorectomy or chemotherapy estrogen therapy can offer some relief. Estrogen therapy alone is recommended for those who have had a hysterectomy. You can take estrogen in different forms, generally estrogen pills and estrogen patches.
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Phase : The Luteal Phase
The second part of our cycle, from ovulation until the day before your next period is the luteal phase.
This part of your cycle is all about preparing your body for pregnancy if the egg released during ovulation does get fertilized. If fertilization doesnt occur, the uterine lining that was built up throughout your cycle starts to shed, resulting in your period.
The luteal phase is typically going to be the same length, give or take a day or two, for each woman. The average length of this phase is around 10 to 16 days. Ideally, it should be as close to 14 days as possible. Less than 10 days is considered a short luteal phase or a luteal phase defect.
FYI: A short luteal phase is usually caused by the body not producing enough progesterone. Often times this is because of a lack of ovulation, or an anovulatory cycle.
Consider Supplementing With Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar may help prevent insulin and blood sugar spikes after eating, particularly when consumed with high carbohydrate foods .
One review found that consuming 26 tablespoons of vinegar daily appears to improve glycemic response to carbohydrate-rich meals. Its important to note, however, that this review incorporated studies that used other forms of vinegar in addition to ACV .
Another review of studies found that consuming vinegar with meals affects both blood glucose and insulin levels. Individuals consuming vinegar with meals had lower blood sugar and insulin levels than those who didnt consume it. But again, this review did not specify ACV .
A third review of studies from 2021 specifically targeted ACV analyzed its effect on glycemic control in adults .
The researchers found that consuming ACV significantly decreased fasting blood sugar and HbA1C . However, ACV did not seem to affect fasting insulin levels or insulin resistance .
Vinegar may help ease high blood sugar and insulin levels after meals, particularly when those meals are high in carbs. However, results are mixed and more research is needed especially around apple cider vinegar in particular.
Your pancreas releases different amounts of insulin depending on the type of food you eat, but eating a large amount of foods that cause your body to produce extra insulin can eventually lead to hyperinsulinemia.
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Talk To A Healthcare Professional
When hormones are unbalanced and symptoms develop, you will need to consult with an endocrinologist or other specialist. After a thorough history and physical exam, an endocrinologist will probably order blood work to test your hormone levels. Medications are available to restore hormone levels or treat the symptoms caused by abnormal hormone levels.
If you have symptoms or signs of an endocrine disorder, self-treating may allow the condition to worsen. These recommendations on balancing your hormones are intended to reduce your risk for endocrine-related disorders, not to self-treat symptoms.
Hormone Balancing Tip #: Tune In To The Subtle Energies Throughout Your Cycle
Our patriarchal work culture has been built around the masculine energy of high productivity every day of the month. Unfortunately, women are not designed to operate like this. Our menstrual cycles mean that we naturally go through phases of high energy and slower, more introspective times .
Learning to identify and respond to these subtle energetic changes can revolutionise your productivity and output throughout your cycle. This is a topic I am very passionate about and spend an entire module teaching my students about in Hormone Harmony Academy. I teach my students to chart their cycles, and respond to energetic changes throughout the month. This means they can stop fighting the inevitable ebbs and flows and make turn their menstrual cycles into a source of power, rather than suffering.
When first becoming aware of your changing energy throughout your cycle, start by taking time to truly rest at menstruation. Even if this means for just one hour asking someone to watch your kids, going to bed early, taking a bath or reading a book instead of tidying the house. I guarantee if you can take some time for some self-care at menstruation, you will be rewarded with overflowing energy, productivity and creativity at your next ovulation time.
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Birth Control Option #: Oral Contraceptives
The birth control pill is the most commonly used form of contraception in the United States. There are different types of contraceptive pills and they differ based on the amount of the hormones estrogen and progestin are in them. The combination birth control pill contains both estrogen and progestin whereas the mini pill contains only progestin. As you take either of these pills, your levels of estrogen and/or progestin increase in your body. High levels of these hormones prevent the ovary from releasing an egg.;
The birth control pill is used to treat a number of conditions including PCOS, endometriosis, irregular periods, menstrual cramps and conditions that are caused by low levels of estrogen. As the pill prevents the ovary from releasing an egg, the pill can help reduce the development of cysts associated with PCOS. The hormones released by the pill also make the lining of the uterus thinner, which results in lighter periods. This is why the pill is also used as a treatment for endometriosis.
Signs Of Hormone Imbalance
Men and women may experience similar symptoms when hormones are out of balance. You may have trouble sleeping or struggle to get up in the morning, even if youve had a full night of sleep. You rely on caffeine to get you through the morning and afternoon.
Your emotions are erratic. You get cranky and irritable often, and you have energy crashes. Stress seems overwhelming sometimes, and youre prone to depression or anxiety.
Hormones are also important to your sexual function. Men with hormone imbalances may experience a and erectile dysfunction. Women may also feel less than amorous in the bedroom and experience vaginal dryness that makes intercourse uncomfortable and even painful.
Weight gain is common with hormone imbalances. Women may start to see pounds pile around their middle, and men find it harder to build muscle while fat accrues. Hunger is uncontrollable at times.
Physical symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats, headaches, and increased sensitivity to temperature.
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You Get Sneezy Or Wheezy Before Your Period
Moodiness, headaches, and bloat are annoyances you expect with PMS. But allergies or an asthma attack? Not so much. Turns out, allergy symptoms worsen in some women right before their period thanks to hormones going crazy. And premenstrual hormonal fluctuations can make it harder for those with asthma to breathe.
Again, progesterone may be the culprit: Rising levels in the days before your period coincide with airway inflammation that can set the stage for an asthma flare-up, a study from McMaster University in Canada found. On the flip side, as estrogen levels go up during the first half of your menstrual cycle, airway inflammation goes down. “It’s not a simple relationship in which progesterone is bad and estrogen is good; it’s more about your individual sensitivity to both hormones,” says study author Piush Mandhane, M.D., Ph.D.
Get back on track: Keep a journal for a few months recording where you are in your cycle and any asthma or allergy symptoms you experience. Then share that info with your doctor. If there’s a relationship between the two, your doc may suggest using an asthma inhaler or taking OTC allergy meds preemptively. The pill may also help: Birth control makes your hormones fluctuate less.
Ways To Control Your Hunger Hormone With Functional Medicine
Ghrelin Im not sure about you, but for me it conjures up images from the 1980s movie Gremlins. On the one hand you have this adorable creature named Gizmo, however if you expose him to bright light, get him wet or feed him after midnight these new creatures called gremlins start multiplying. They are violent and mischievous little monsters that create havoc in the local town. That may be how some of you feel when you get hungry and your ghrelin levels get out of control but rest easy knowing functional medicine can help!
Dubbed the hunger hormone, ghrelin is produced in the gastrointestinal tract. After eating a meal your stomach distends and the secretion of ghrelin decreases. At the same time leptin, the satiety hormone increases giving you a sensation of fullness and a signal is sent to your brain to stop eating.
Interestingly, ghrelin has many other roles as well. Ghrelin regulates glucose homeostasis by inhibiting insulin secretion and regulating gluconeogenesis/glycogenolysis. Ghrelin signaling decreases thermogenesis to regulate energy expenditure. Ghrelin improves the survival prognosis of myocardial infarction by reducing sympathetic nerve activity. Ghrelin prevents muscle atrophy by inducing muscle differentiation and fusion. Ghrelin also regulates bone formation and metabolism by modulating proliferation and differentiation of osteoblasts.
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Why Do Birth Control Pills Contain Estrogen
As Ive mentioned, combined birth control pills with estrogen and progestin, trick your pituitary gland into thinking you are pregnant. The constant doses of estrogen each day are pivotal to this trickery because of the estrogen:
Prevents your pituitary gland from producing the follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone so that ovulation doesnt take place.
Thickens the lining of your uterus, making the environment more hostile to conception.
What’s Within Our Control
Some hormones arent at all within our control. Sometimes theres nothing we can door not doto alter some of them.; Sometimes thats goodsince many have to do with growth, development and large life changes.; At other times, thats bad. For example, in type 1 diabetes, the pancreas can no longer make insulin and patients with diabetes have to inject it daily.
However, there are a lot of things we do every day that trigger our hormones.
Technically, we cant control hormones, but we can certainly do things to influence them, he notes. Foods we choose to eat or drink can cause our hormone levels to go up or down. Extra weight can also have a significant impact on the way hormones work.
Here are examples of how the level of some common hormones can make you feel and what you might do to change them:
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Hormone Balancing Tip #: Balance Blood Sugar
Having balanced blood sugar means that your body produces a normal insulin response when you consume food. A balanced meal includes good quality fat, protein, and fibre. A balanced plate might look something like this:
12 of your plate greens and vegetables 14 of your plate good quality protein 14 of your plate complex carbs 1-2 tablespoons of healthy fats
I know just how confusing making healthy choices that also support your hormones can be. Thats why I created a 40-page Hormone Balancing Recipe eBook as a special BONUS resource exclusive only to my Hormone Harmony Academy students. Get in to the kitchen with confidence and start preparing delicious, hormone-loving meals – learn more here.