What Do Your Hormones Do?

By Kim Banting,

Hormones are chemical messengers that circulate in our body and tell it how to function.  If we want to feel happy and motivated, sleep well, maintain a healthy weight and manage stress, we need them to be produced in the right amount at the right times.  They control everything from reproduction, digestion, metabolism, emotions and even hunger and satiety. When our hormones function properly, we feel great and when they do not, we can have health issues that make us miserable.

After my daughter was born 14 years ago, I was going to the gym every day and was in great physical shape, so, like a lot of people, I thought that meant I was healthy!  The funny thing about this is that at the same time, I hadn’t slept in months, I was always exhausted, I had anxiety, was often depressed, my skin was bad, I had PMS, mood swings, heart palpitations and I alternated between constipation and diarrhea.  Then I injured myself and couldn’t get the pain under control.  At this point I couldn’t ignore the other issues and I was feeling beaten down and just miserable!

After doing a 30-day clean eating detox, I felt amazing!  All of the symptoms I mentioned above were gone!  I was sleeping soundly and waking up in the morning rested and excited to begin my day.  I couldn’t believe how significant the change was!  Why did this help?  Mainly, the detox targeted my gut and my liver, two key players in hormone balancing.

Let’s take a look a few key hormones systems and you will get the picture as to how important they are.

  • Hypothalamus: It signals the production of other hormones and in doing so, helps regulate things like hunger, moods, sleep, body temperature and sex drive.
  • Thymus: It produces the hormone thymosin, which helps regulate the immune system. The thymus shrinks as we age but scientists are not sure it is supposed to, which means that, perhaps, good nutrition could help maintain immune function as we age.
  • Pancreas: Insulin produced in the pancreas is a key hormone and its sole function is to help blood sugar get into the cells so we have the energy we need for our cells to function. However, too much insulin has been implicated in many health issues.
  • Thyroid:  Hormones produced by our thyroid are associated with metabolism and heart rate. If you have trouble losing weight – your thyroid may not be functioning optimally.
  • Adrenals: There are many hormones produced by the adrenal glands but their main function is to help us cope with stress, both physical and mental. Because of this, the adrenals rule the roost in the body. This is because protecting us from danger is considered to be one of the most significant functions of the body and because of that, when we are stressed, the adrenals can cause all kinds of havoc with other systems.
  • Pituitary: This is a master endocrine gland that produces hormones that tell other glands and organs to produce more hormones. However, hormones from the adrenals like cortisol or insulin from the pancreas can exert pressure on the pituitary and interfere with other hormone relationships where the pituitary is involved.
  • Ovaries: In women, the ovaries produce estrogen, progesterone and small amounts of testosterone before menopause. After menopause, it is the adrenals that produce these hormones to keep women healthy.
  • Testes: For men, the testes produce testosterone and small amounts of estrogen and progesterone.

These are just a few hormonal relationships – it really is complex and often hormone problems are a result of several hormones exerting influence in a way that causes more than one issue. Food and lifestyle can help immensely to feed the various body systems so they work in a more balanced way. A holistic nutrition professional can help you do this.

Balanced hormones are the key to a having a body in balance. Even small imbalances can cause an issue. Getting a proper diagnosis is key and from there decisions can be made to help correct the issues.

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