by Dr. Wally Taylor, Forum Health Austin
In the U.S. more and more women and men are developing hormone imbalances at an alarming rate due to many factors such as poor diet, stressful lifestyles, environmental toxins, and declining physical exercise.
Symptoms of hormone imbalances can include:
- Excess fatigue
- Severe stomach pains
- Weight gain
- Weight loss resistance
- Sugar or carbohydrate cravings
- Chronic joint pain
- Mood swings
- Skin issues
- Trouble sleeping
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Brain fog
- Low sex drive
- Muscle pain
Below we are talking about some of the most common hormone imbalances that we see in our clinic. If you relate to even one of the following symptoms, you may benefit from having your hormone levels tested.
1- High cortisol
When we are under stress our adrenal glands secrete the hormone cortisol. This is our “fight or flight” hormone which is certainly needed in certain situations. However, it becomes problematic when one is under chronic stress. When cortisol is constantly being released into our body it can cause inflammation. The best way to manage cortisol is through stress management. We suggest going for a walk outside, reading, spending time with family, doing yoga or listening to soothing music, but find what works best for you.
2- Low cortisol
As we stated above, cortisol is needed in certain situations. It works as an anti-inflammatory agent, reduces pain, and helps heal the body. Both low and high levels of cortisol can lead to their own problems, having just the right amount is key. To figure out what your levels are, we suggest testing through saliva several points throughout the day. Talk to your healthcare professional to see if this is something you would benefit from.
3- Low DHEA
DHEA naturally declines after the age of 30 or if we are stressed. Low levels of this adrenal hormone are associated with loss of energy, sluggishness, lowered libido, mood changes, and muscle weakness.
Benefits of DHEA include increased lean-muscle mass, improved sleep, better thyroid hormone conversion, a healthier immune function, and enhancement of the growth and repair process. Check with your healthcare professional to see what your DHEA levels are. It is important to have your levels tested regularly, since high DHEA levels can lead to certain forms of cancer. Luckily DHEA is easy to measure and supplement.
4- Low estrogen
When estrogen is decreased we may see problems with high blood sugar, which leads to weight gain.
5- Low progesterone
During times of stress progesterone is converted to cortisol. High stress and low cortisol can often lead to fertility issues. Common causes of low progesterone include high sugar intake, antidepressants, nutrient deficiencies, contraceptives, and low thyroid function.
6- Leptin resistance
This hormone regulates appetite and energy. If we are not getting enough sleep, this hormone may be decreased. When this happens we feel hungrier, we are up longer (due to lack of sleep) which naturally leads to overconsumption of food causing weight gain. If we have too much leptin, resulting in leptin resistance, this may make it impossible to lose your belly fat. Excess visceral abdominal fat can lead to inflammation throughout your body.
7- High androgen levels
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is considered a hormonal and metabolic disease. Women with PCOS have high levels of androgen hormones. The two main androgenic hormones of concern in women are testosterone and androstenedione. Others include DHT, DHEA, and DHEA-S. Women naturally produce these hormones in moderation, however when they are overproduced unwanted symptoms begin to manifest. Symptoms can include irregular menstrual function, problems with fertility, unwanted hair growth, acne, and weight gain.
8- Low testosterone
Stress, aging and nutrient deficiencies are common causes of low testosterone in women. Symptoms of testosterone imbalance in women include: growth of facial hair, loss of libido, weight gain, low mood and increased risk of illness. Poor lifestyle habits such as a diet high in carbohydrates can cause testosterone to be converted into estrogen.
In men, testosterone production typically decreases with age. Men can experience a range of symptoms some include low sex drive, hair loss, fatigue and lack of energy, loss of muscle mass, increase in body fat, decrease in bone mass, and mood changes.
Why are my hormone levels imbalanced?
Your body needs to be functioning properly for it to produce the correct amount of hormones. This requires sufficient macro and micronutrients and a non-toxic environment. These nutrients are the building blocks of all tissue and are essential for our body to process correctly. When everything is working in harmony, your body is the perfect pharmacy; it makes the right amount of hormones every time!
If your hormones are out of balance, we need to figure out WHY. Rather than hormone replacement therapy that will typically only mask the problem, we need to find out where the actual breakdown is happening to correct the imbalance.
How do I test my hormones?
Hormones can be analyzed several ways with some being better than others. Hormones can be checked via saliva, blood, or urine. It is important that your healthcare professional use the correct type of test for your needs.