Hormonal imbalances trigger fat storage and weight gain, and many other nasty symptoms like PMS, acne, painful breasts, migraines, cellulite, loss of libido, a disrupted monthly cycle, menopausal issues, and burn-outs.
Your hormones dictate virtually every part of your life: from your state of mind to your behavior, body shape, eating habits and even your reaction to stress.
To balance hormones, is to balance life.
The good news is that there are many natural tools to help you in the process of rebalancing your hormones.
What Are Hormones Exactly?
Hormones function as messengers between body systems to regulate your physiology and behavior, such as digestion, metabolism, respiration, tissue function, sleep, stress, growth, movement, reproduction, and mood.
Hormones then tell your body whether you are hungry, sleepy, stressed or getting a little “frisky”. And it works both ways: hormones also tell you when to stop eating, when you need to wake up, when you need to calm down or when you’re not feeling so sexy.
You’re probably familiar with the sex hormones: oestrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. But there are many other hormones too, such as insulin, growth hormone, leptin, cortisol, and melatonin. For the sake of clarity, we’ll just focus on the sex hormones in this article.
Sex hormones control some of the most influential processes in the body such as pregnancy, puberty, regulating your cycle (men have a monthly cycle too!), menopause, hair growth, skin complexion and so on.
Unfortunately, they also play quite the part when it comes to fat storage and muscle growth.
And just to be clear; women have ‘male’ hormones’ and men have ‘female’ hormones too:
- Primary female hormone
- Regulates reproductive system
- Stimulates fertility & libido
- Develops female characteristics: breasts, hips and bottom
- Regulates cycle, menstruation and pregnancy
- Key factor in production of other sex and stress hormones
- Improves sleeping quality
- Primary male hormone
- Responsible for fat gain
- Stimulates muscle growth
- Stimulates body hair & sexual desire
The tricky part? These hormones can function differently in certain areas of the body. They can complement each other or function as opposites. And this is exactly the reason why it’s so important they are present in the right ratio: for an optimal and healthy hormone balance.
The Signs & Symptoms Of Hormonal Imbalances
There’s more than one way your hormonal system can be unbalanced, and each imbalance comes with its own signs and symptoms. Oestrogen dominance and low testosterone levels are the most common.
The Signs & Symptoms Of Oestrogen Dominance
External Bodily Symptoms:
- Weight gain
- Increased body hair
- Increased facial hair
- Thinning skin
- Thinning hair
- Brittle hair/nails
- Belly Fat
- Puffy Eyes
Internal Bodily Symptoms:
- Night sweats
- Water retention
- Tingling hands/feet
- Decreased energy
- Hot flashes
- Sugar/carb cravings
- Vaginal dryness
- Hot flashes
- Heavy menstruation
- Tense breasts
- Cysts in ovaries/breasts
- Low libido
- Inflamed joints
- Panic attacks
- Concentration problems
- Depressed mood
- Mood Swings
- Excessive worrying
- Less energized
Do you recognise 2-3 symptoms from each list? Then chances are high you’re dealing with an oestrogen dominance.
Extra risk factors, if you’ve got a history of:
- Taking hormonal anti-conception
- Polycystic ovaries/breasts
- Breast cancer
- Hormone replacement therapy
- Weight loss problems
The Signs & Symptoms Of Low Testosterone Levels
- Pale Face
- Muscle Mass Loss
- Infirm Skin
- Dry Eyes
- Fat Gain in Abdomen
- Fat Gain on Chest
- Inability To Built Muscle
- Hair Loss
- Difficulties Achieving Orgasm
- Decreased Strength
- Decrease In Bone Mass
- Men: Female-Like Features
- Men: Erective Problems
- Low Libido
- Depressive Feelings
- Fatigue/Lack of Energy
- Irritability/Mood Changes
- Sleeping Problems
- Feeling Stressed
Why Do I Suffer From Hormonal Imbalances?
The reasons for hormonal imbalances are pretty unfair. You’ve probably had a huge influence on this yourself, without even knowing you were doing something wrong! On top of that, there are external factors over which you’ve got virtually no control.
The signals measured by the nervous system that are informing your hormones? They’ve become heavily strained in today’s world. We haven’t adapted to our relatively new and ‘unnatural’ lifestyle filled with chronic stress, processed foods, chemical exposure, long sedentary hours and artificial light. Evolution doesn’t work that fast.
1. Under-eating & Over-excercising
A diet that ignores your hormones is not a diet. Period!
Too much, too little or doing the wrong exercise, as well as yoyo-, crash- and fad-dieting, are one-way tickets to hormonal imbalances.
Your diet and exercise routine should work with your hormones, not against them. The right nutrition and lifestyle habits can actually restore balance in your hormone system!
Unfortunately, 99% of the diet and exercise routines out there does exactly the opposite throwing your body off-balance, making you gain weight and lose muscle mass.
2. Wrong Foods
Foods have a major impact on your hormone balance. Unfortuntaly, many hormone-unbalancing food trends have slipped into our diets over the years, that drive our hormones crazy:
- Too little fatty acids
- Too little fibre
- Too much carbohydrates
- Too much soy
- Too much beer
- Too much unhealthy fats
- Too much processed foods
- Too much sugar
Physical and mental stress also disrupt your hormones. Chronic stress is so powerful that it can even be the only source of hormonal imbalance. How does that work?
Once your body gets into a state of chronic stress, your body starts using up your progesterone and transforms it into cortisol, the stress hormone. Your stress-system is literally “stealing” from your sex hormone system, throwing off your healthy oestrogen-progesterone ratio.
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Alcohol, chemicals, heavy metals and other toxins enter our bodies not only through what we eat and drink but also through environmental pollution and medication. Toxins burden your liver, and too much of it results in a liver overload.
The liver is the most important organ to break down excess oestrogen and get it out of your system. A liver that’s too polluted and burdened dealing with toxicity, therefore, results in high levels of oestrogen, again disrupting your hormonal balance.
5. Too High Body Fat Percentage
The enzyme aromatase found in fat tissue converts testosterone into oestrogen. That means that too much body fat results in a low testosterone-high oestrogen ratio. Sadly, you need testosterone to gain muscle and burn fat, making it increasingly difficult to keep your body in shape.
Excess fat results in oestrogen dominance. But the vicious circle doesn’t stop there! Oestrogen dominance also increases the amount of body fat. How does that work?
Oestrogen and insulin interact. Insulin is needed to get the glucose from your blood into your cells. Oestrogen causes fluctuations in your blood sugar level and upsets your insulin-factory (the pancreas). An out-of-control insulin production makes your cells less insulin-sensitive.
When this happens, the sugar in your blood can’t enter your cells and use it as fuel anymore; forcing your body to store sugar as fat instead.
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Ageing also impacts your hormone levels. While we do add beauty and wisdom with our years, our hormones don’t always play along nicely.
When men age their testosterone levels decline. The problem is that oestrogen in men decreases at a slower pace, causing an uneven ratio: too much oestrogen compared to little testosterone.
Strength training is your best friend when trying to boost testosterone! Magnesium is also a true testosterone booster. So make sure to eat plenty of dark leafy greens (spinach, swiss chard, kale, watercress and collard greens), pumpkin seeds, fish (mackerel, pollock, turbot and tuna are excellent!), avocado, unroasted nuts (Brasil, almonds, cashews, pecans and walnuts), bananas, and dark chocolate.
When women age, both oestrogen and progesterone will decline. Unfortunately, progesterone levels often drop at a faster rate than oestrogen and can even get to zero. Oestrogen doesn’t decrease as quickly as progesterone and this difference cause hormone imbalances, resulting in an oestrogen dominance (menopause) once again.
Add the other modern lifestyle factors such as chronic stress, toxins and a wrong diet and you’ve got the perfect formula for hormones-gone-wild and hormonal imbalances. It also explains why more and more women experience menopausal complaints already at a relatively young age.
7. Other Influences
Our environment almost overdoses us with non-bodily hormones that mimic the natural ones in our bodies while forcing our bodies to treat them the same. These strangers behave ‘biodentically’ and have a hormonal effect on us even though they differ chemically from the hormones that our bodies produce internally.
A few examples:
- Phytoestrogens are substances similar to oestrogens found in many edible plants. Usually, they don’t pose a threat to our hormonal balance. Soy products and beer are an exception because they contain such a high level of phytoestrogens that they throw off your oestrogen balance.
- Synthetic xenoestrogens imitate oestrogen and are widely used industrial chemical compounds such as pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, plastics, and preservatives in cosmetics (e.g. parabens). They also creep into our lives in the form of processed foods, anti-conception and even through plastic water bottles!
- Synthetic testosterone/progesterone/oestrogen is often used for hormonal replacement therapy and anti-conception. This often leads to even bigger imbalances, and can throw off your natural cycle badly.
We eat, drink and breathe hormones all the time. Avoiding all of them is impossible, so it’s crucial to give your body the best tools it needs to keep your hormones balanced!
The Path Towards A Healthy Hormone Balance
It’s unfortunate that hormonal imbalances are often ‘treated’ with hormonal replacement therapy. It’s not uncommon for doctors to prescribe anti-conceptive pills or other synthetic hormones to treat your symptoms.
By now you know that this does NOT solve the underlying problem. A lot of symptoms caused by hormones can be fixed naturally by addressing diet and lifestyle first, before turning to medicine.
Do you think hormonal imbalances are causing your weight gain and other health problems? Eat the right nutrients and adopt the best lifestyle habits to fix your hormones and feel good again with The Personal Body Reset.
Tell me, beautiful. Are you suffering from hormonal imbalances? What are you doing to restore peace in your body?
We’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Your message might be that one thing someone really needs to hear today. We often go through the same thoughts and struggles without even knowing it.
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So grateful to have you with us, love!
Stay on your health game and keep going for your dreams. x
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Moorman, R & Havenith, B. (2015). Hormoonbalans voor vrouwen. Nederland: Moorman BV.
Neave, N. (2008). Hormones and Behaviour: A Psychological Approach. Newcastle: Northumbria University.
Power, M. .L & Schulkin, J. (2008). Sex differences in fat storage, fat metabolism, and the health risks from obesity: possible evolutionary origins. British Journal of Nutrition, 99(5), 931-40.