Hormones are an all-over experience as they carry messages from the body's organs to body's cells to ensure the body continues its natural balance. Hormones are responsible for a number of functions, including our development, behaviour and wellness. Hormones are a chemical that stimulate growth, the immune system, tissue repair, energy and stress levels and much, much more.
The body produces approximately 50 hormone groups to ensure regular functions. Tell me about Hormones explains that "as we age, hormone levels change in response to our health, external factors (stress or chemicals) and life stage".
To find out more about your hormones and the vital role they play in your body as well as to find a professional complementary healthcare practitioner visit www.tellmeabouthormones.com.au. The website contains credible, easy to read information to help educate you about hormones, the role they play in our health and the importance of consulting a professional complementary healthcare practitioner who can assess your hormone health and advise of a suitable complementary treatment plan.
Heyltje Vaneveld, Clinical Director and Integrative Naturopathic Practitioner, Salus - Integrative Medicine Specialists: 1002 High Street Armadale, Victoria
www.salusmedicine.com.au or Phone: 03 9500 8870
Question: Can you tell us about our hormones?
Heyltje Vaneveld: Hormones are described as powerful chemical messengers that travel through the bloodstream, activating cells which have specific receptors for them. Over fifty different hormones produced by endocrine glands, work together, maintaining the constant internal environment of the body, this is referred to as 'homeostasis'.
Hormones are responsible for many of the body's functions, including:
Regulation of the body's core temperature
Thirst and hunger
Sexual and reproductive function
Circadian rhythm, the body's biological clock
Bone and muscle growth and development
The metabolic rate - which controls the rate and efficiency of how we use food/fuel as energy.
Our most primitive flight/fight, stress response, controlled by the adrenal glands, releases two hormones, adrenaline and cortisol when the autonomic nervous system perceives a threat.
Question: How do hormones change as we age?
Heyltje Vaneveld: Hormone levels are a reliable measure of how we have aged, which takes into account lifestyle practices, diet, exercise, sleep, disease processes and the ageing process itself. Hormones are also very protective of the ageing process if the body continues to produce them in adequate amounts, and if in particular proper ratios are maintained.
The reproductive hormones decline in both sexes, usually in the fourth and fifth decade of life. This reproductive phase is referred to as menopause and andropause. The male androgen hormones, Testosterone and DHEA are significantly lower at this age and women have reduced levels of the female hormones, Estrogen and Progesterone, as well as reduced levels of Testosterone.
At this mid-life stage it is very important to measure all the hormones, including thyroid, adrenal, and insulin hormone levels, as these will now exert more influence and determine physical health and resilience, psychological health, brain health, and risk factors for cardiovascular and diabetes conditions.
A health practitioner that is skilled and experienced in hormones can provide for the analysis, interpretation and treatment options resulting from the test results.
Question: Can you please explain the affect hormones have on the entire body?
Heyltje Vaneveld: Hormones set the tone of the body. It is neither good to have low or high levels. There is no function in the body that is not directly or indirectly affected or influenced by a hormone or a range of hormones. Having hormonal balance produces a consistent, energized, and positive tone to life, even though a person may experience hardship. Hormone levels measure both the toll of living, yet if maintained in balance; protect the body from stress and premature ageing.
Question: What are the most common hormone issues?
Heyltje Vaneveld: Hormones are very sensitive substances, and appear to be increasingly vulnerable to environmental toxins. This has been demonstrated by the increased rates of chronic illness in the Western World. It is most alarming to realize that the impact of toxins persists for generations and will therefore continue to cause disruption to our hormones for the long-term.
We are able to say that the body measures its response to life via the hormones; it is therefore reasonable to say that hormonal disruption occurs more often in an increasingly complex world, and that falling fertility rates, depression, diabetes and obesity, all chronic health conditions, generally represent the major hormonal issues to date.
Question: What is a hormone imbalance?
Heyltje Vaneveld: Hormonal imbalance is predominantly triggered by the two hormones that govern the body's stress response, adrenaline and cortisol. Stress is the term used to collectively describe any physical or psychological substance or event that evokes the release of these two hormones via the nervous system. Cortisol and adrenaline have far reaching effects on all the hormonal centers, and when their release is either elevated or declines, this will have a significant disrupting effect on all the other hormones.
Question: How will we know if we have a hormone imbalance?
Heyltje Vaneveld: There is not one system in the body that is not susceptible to hormonal disruption. We are however very familiar with the issues that involve the nervous, immune and reproductive systems and the conditions associated with their disruption.
Common symptoms of hormonal imbalance are:
Fatigue, lowered mood and motivation
Decreased tolerance to lifestyle pressures
Changes in blood pressure,
Weight gain, particularly abdominal fat mass
Changes in reproductive function, and libido
Increased premenstrual symptoms
Anxiety, depression, concentration and memory decline.
This range of symptoms demonstrates how powerful hormones are, and how distressed we can feel if they are out of balance.
Question: What can we do to control our hormones?
Heyltje Vaneveld: Hormones are not really controlled, more they remain regulated if we adhere to a balanced lifestyle that addresses, diet, detoxification, exercise, psychological resilience, sleep, time for fun and relaxation.
Our external environment has a big impact on our hormones, which emphasizes the need to be more aware of which toxins to avoid.
As an example fluoride added to our water supplies is a direct antagonist to iodine, which is essential for healthy thyroid function.
Many toxins upset the delicate balance between estrogen and progesterone and are therefore also responsible for increasing reproductive issues.
Highly processed foods stimulate excessive insulin production, which in turn increases fat gain in most people increasing one's risk of type 2 diabetes.
A comprehensive health assessment will identify which areas in your life need addressing as to minimize hormonal imbalances and the impact that could have on your health.
Question: If someone thinks they may have hormone problems, what should they do?
Heyltje Vaneveld: If you think you have a hormonal imbalance it is best to make an appointment with your preferred health practitioner and firstly discuss the range and intensity of the symptoms you are experiencing. Sometimes hormonal imbalances can be very frightening, and you will need acute relief measures to ensure your safety, then you can begin to address the lifestyle, psychological, environmental factors that are contributing.
It may be necessary to have a range of practitioners or an integrated approach in assisting your condition, so that all factors are addressed comprehensively.
Question: Can hormones contribute to unexpected weight gain and stress?
Heyltje Vaneveld: Hormones contribute to unexpected weight gain and stress both directly and indirectly. The most common cause of unexpected weight gain is an imbalance between the two female hormones during the second stage of the menstrual cycle.
The hormone insulin regarded as a fat storage hormone is a direct cause of weight gain, increasing both fluid retention and fat mass, in men and women.
High circulating levels of the stress hormone cortisol is disruptive to most hormones, increasing fat accumulation, particularly on the abdomen, so much so that 'abdominal adiposity' is regarded as a marker of stress.
Interview by Brooke Hunter