Ever wonder if your hormones are out of whack? Hormonal imbalances and deficiencies can look like a variety of symptoms but can include fatigue, weight gain, mood swings, sleep disturbances, hot flashes, increased pain, dry skin, bloating, digestive upset, brain fog, memory changes, low libido, and more! These symptoms can really take away from living your life fully! Natural hormonal changes are normal, but the symptoms that wreak havoc on your quality of life don’t have to be.
Here are 5 ways your hormones get disrupted and what you can do about it!
1) Your Diet
Unknown food allergies activate the immune system and cause inflammation, leading to changes in your hormones. If you’re having issues figuring out what foods are right for your body, we can help you discover what foods are giving you issues with direct testing.
Blood sugar imbalances can raise insulin and cortisol, leading to loss of the hormones you want circulating in your body. We can help you structure your meals to best support your blood glucose.
Nutrient deficiencies can be the root cause of hormone issues. When you don’t have enough healthy nutrients from your diet, your body may struggle with making enough healthy hormones. This can be caused by not eating enough of the right things, or an issue with gut health (see below!). Medications can also cause these nutrient deficiencies such as NSAIDs, cholesterol drugs, reflux drugs, and antibiotics.
2) Your Gut Health
Ever heard of the gut microbiome? Your GI tract is supposed to have good bacteria and bugs that keep the entire body healthy, which is often why we take probiotics. But sometimes the bugs that live in the gut aren’t healthy, and can cause problems. These bugs can cause issues like infections and inflammation leading to hormone problems. Dysbiosis is when there are too many bad bugs or bugs in the wrong places. This can often happen with antibiotic use. We can help test for dysbiosis and provide treatment to get your gut back to normal.
Leaky gut is the term given when there are irregular holes and gaps in your GI tract that allow too many food breakdown products through. Leaky gut is a potential result of many factors but can cause food sensitivities and worsen inflammation in the body, disrupting your natural hormone production.
Infections in the gastrointestinal tract are fairly common and not often caught or treated by providers in the mainstream medical system. These can include yeast or candida overgrowth, SIBO, SIFO, parasites or more. We can test for these infections that affect hormones and provide natural treatment to get rid of these stubborn infections.
3) Your Genetics
Poor methylation can be one reason your family history works against you for hormone health. Some individuals carry a genetic mutation that does not allow them to methylate properly. This leads to inflammation and nutritional deficiencies that disrupt hormones. We can test for methylation problems such as the MTHFR mutation and provide guidance on how to eat right for your genetics.
Absorption mutations can exist in anyone and you would never know about them unless it was tested directly. Sometimes you can eat perfectly and be taking all the right supplements but if you are fighting an absorption mutation, you may still be unable to absorb vital nutrients. One example of this is a genetic mutation against the absorption of vitamin D in food and supplements. Vitamin D is huge in hormone health, and could be the reason for a hormone issue.
Altered biotransformation is a fancy way of saying your body may not be detoxing normally or ideally. Detoxification is a major way we regulate hormones like estrogen. Supporting healthy detoxification is important and something we help patients with regularly by supporting liver and immune health.
4) Your Stress
Acute or chronic stress is unfortunately so common, and stress is the root cause of almost any disease or illness. As part of the stress response, the body strives to maintain cortisol levels due to its central role in mounting a stress response. High cortisol levels can “steal” micronutrient building blocks of your hormones and impact your levels.
Poor sleep can throw off hormonal balance as well. When you don’t sleep well, your cortisol and melatonin levels change throughout the day and can rob normal hormone production.
Adrenal Fatigue can of course impact your hormones as this is where many hormones are made in the body. The adrenal glands are like little party hats on your kidneys that help make important hormones. When these glands get overworked or dysregulated, your entire hormonal system gets thrown off.
5) Your lifestyle
Smoking cigarettes can cause increased levels of major hormone disrupting chemicals including heavy metals that influence hormonal response and levels.
Excessive alcohol consumption can throw off important estrogen ratios and detox pathways in the body. Without proper detoxification of dangerous estrogen breakdown products, cancer risk is increased. Over 100 studies on alcohol consumption & risk of breast cancer in women found an increased risk of breast cancer associated with increasing alcohol intake.
Toxins exist all around us every day and can be major endocrine disruptive chemicals that directly impact our hormone levels. Phytochemicals, chemically modified food ingredients, and foreign chemicals can all influence hormonal response. These include pesticides, glycophosphates, plastics, fuels, flame retardants, phthalates, preservatives, heavy metals and cosmetic additives. Learning how to avoid these in your daily life and testing for toxic burden in the body is one of the ways we help our patients optimize their hormone levels.