(NaturalNews) When we think of hormones, we think of spotty teenagers and grouchy middle aged women. The truth is, we are all affected by hormones all of the time. Hormones play specific roles in our health and wellbeing. Some of our hormones are sexual in nature, but hormones play a whole range of other functions. When our hormones are balanced, we feel energetic and alive.
The endocrine system is a complex system made up of the pituitary gland, hypothalamus, thyroid, adrenals, gonads, pancreas, and pineal gland. These organs and glands release hormones which act as chemical messengers to transmit information from one cell to another. Tissue function, mood, growth, puberty, and metabolism are all regulated by these hormones. These hormones exist in a delicate and closely regulated balance. Hormonal imbalances, which can influence anyone at any age, not just menopausal women, can be caused by multiple factors and often result in vague symptoms that can be mistaken for other conditions or illnesses.
The symptoms of hormone imbalance can include fatigue, depression, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, headaches, low libido, weight loss, weight gain, hair loss, and much more. Because of their vague nature, these symptoms are often overlooked by people suffering from them. When a doctor is consulted it can be difficult to reach a diagnosis for the same reason. There is no one symptom that points specifically to a hormone imbalance. Often many other conditions are ruled out before a blood test is done to check for a hormonal imbalance.
The causes of hormone imbalance vary, but one of the main culprits is stress. Stress-induced hormone imbalance is becoming so common that there is a specific name for the cause of this type of imbalance: adrenal fatigue. The term adrenal fatigue refers to the signs and symptoms that result from the adrenal glands not performing as well as they should because of chronic stress.
One of the functions of the adrenal glands is to release adrenaline and cortisol in response to stress - the "fight or flight" response. During periods of short-lived stress this stress response is beneficial. However, in conditions of chronic stress, like so many people live with, this system can be damaging. Chronic stress results in constant high cortisol levels from the adrenals. The result is adrenal fatigue: the adrenal glands are too overworked from producing cortisol to keep up with regulation of other necessary hormones.
One of the most common forms of stress is a bad diet. Sugar, preservatives, and lifeless innutritious food cause our bodies to react in the same way they would if a grizzly bear was chasing us. We cannot possibly feel good and balanced if we don't have the right fuel. Eat regular meals, and make sure they are packed with fresh, organic fruits, vegetables, seeds and super foods. Avoid too much caffeine. You may think you need eight cups of tea or coffee a day to function, but the truth is that caffeine is a stress trigger for hormone levels, and it makes you more tired in the long run.
And then there is emotional stress. According to Dr. James Wilson, D.C., N.D., Ph.D. and author of Adrenal Fatigue: the 21st Century Syndrome, "People are losing their jobs, their homes, their investments and their health in this economic crisis that has now become a stress crisis. The onset of adrenal fatigue is usually preceded by periods of stress. Practice yoga and meditation, get a regular massage, and listen to soothing music. See a therapist who can help you to deal with your stress effectively if need be. Taking steps to support the adrenals and other endocrine glands affected by stress can result in improvements in energy, sleep, and the ability to focus and concentrate, as well as help avoid adrenal fatigue and other problems that can arise as stress maladaptations."
Learning ways to manage and reduce stress can help prevent hormone imbalance due to adrenal fatigue. Other causes of hormone imbalance such as environmental factors can also be changed to help prevent and/or treat hormone imbalance. Reducing exposure to chemicals in our environment that mimic estrogen can be very beneficial. These chemicals can be found in plastics, pesticides, and paint. Using glass food containers, metal reusable water bottles, and other alternatives instead of plastics will greatly reduce exposure. Choosing organic food over conventional food will decrease exposure to pesticides, and choosing low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint will also reduce exposure to these chemicals.
Being aware of ways to prevent hormone imbalance will have a positive effect on health in general. The symptoms of hormone imbalance can greatly reduce health and quality of life. Any of these vague symptoms warrant a discussion with your doctor to help start the road to recovery.
Sheryl is a kinesiologist, nutritionist and holistic practitioner. Her website www.younglivingguide.com provides the latest research on preventing disease, looking naturally gorgeous, and feeling emotionally and physically fabulous. You can also find some of the most powerful super foods on the planet including raw chocolate, purple corn, and many others.