I spent most of my life under the impression that my body contents all lived and operated on separate islands: Boy was I mistaken! Let me explain, before my trainings in anatomy and hormone health with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN) and yoga training programs I assumed if something was going on in my body it was isolated to that particular area in my body. For example, leading up to my menstrual cycle my breasts were almost always tender; therefore, I would assume there was something up with my breasts; when my digestion would fluctuate month-to-month, I would assume it was solely my gut to blame (which was partially the problem, that’s another blog); when I had pelvic pain during my menstrual cycle, I would assume it was isolated in my pelvis; and once I began trying to conceive a child, I assume it was solely my uterus to blame, but learned there was much more to it!
In other words, I had no understanding on how the body functioned and what can trigger these symptoms that I was having. Many years later, I’ve learned how the endocrine system the glands that comprise it and produce the hormones in our bodies play an intricate role in how we feel.
Quick anatomy lesson in just in case you’re unfamiliar with the endocrine system: the endocrine system is a collection of glands and a few glandular organs (pituitary, hypothalamus, thyroid, parathyroid, thymus, adrenal, pancreas, ovaries in women, testes in men and pineal – see picture – being a yogini I shared the picture where it shows our 7 main Chakras. It’s said that these energy centers pair with an endocrine gland and govern it’s function) that produce hormones that control our metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function, reproduction, sleep and mood. Woah! These hormones release messages via our bloodstream to carry to our organs and tissues to perform their job.
Our hormones are not loners; instead they work together like the conductor and the orchestra to create a harmony in our bodies. So, if one hormone is out of tune, it throws off your other hormones and even other body systems.
Below I have shared the eight major hormones in the body and a very brief description of their roles:
1. Estrogen – plays an important role in sexual reproductive health – there’s more than 15 forms of it that have been identified!;
2. Progesterone – health of our nervous system, prepares the lining of the uterus for potential pregnancy, protects the brain from damage, breast health and cardiovascular health;
3. Cortisol – mobilizing energy from the body, reduces inflammation and allergies, helps maintain mood and emotional stability to name a few;
4. Thyroid hormones - T3 and T4 work together as a team, T3 is the active form. Together they help regulate metabolism, heart function, digestion, and brain development;
5. Pregnenolone – known as the master hormone because it’s the precursor from which almost all other steroid hormones are made, including progesterone, testosterone, the estrogens, DHEA, and cortisol;
6. Testosterone – known as the male hormone typically, but it plays a critical role in having a healthy libido in women, turns fat into muscle, keeps skin supple, increases bone density to name a few;
7. DHEA – used in the body to make sex hormones; and
8. Androstenedione – is a precursor of testosterone and other androgens, as well as estrogens in the body.
So what’s a gal to do to be sure their hormones are in check so we can feel our best? First, I would recommend speaking with your doctor (a functional medical doctor, if possible) to get your hormones tested. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms I described above, or if you’re not feeling well in your body, which include: lack of energy, not sleeping well majority of the time, not maintaining a desired weight, poor digestion, PMS symptoms, dull hair, problematic skin and a poor sex drive to name a few.
In the meantime, you can benefit from cleaning up your diet a bit. Poor nutrition is often a big culprit to our hormone imbalances which is why I think it’s a great place for most of us to start. I’ve provided four categories of foods that can be beneficial to your hormone health: it’s important to remember that we are all “bio-individuals” so it’s important to adjust to what works best for your digestion. Maybe you’ve heard the saying “One woman’s meat is another woman’s poisson” by Gwen Davis and it can definitely be the case if you’re sensitive or allergic to any particular food group.
Clean protein: grass-fed meats, wild-caught fish, Non-GMO fed, organic, cage free free-range eggs (certified humane raised and handled is my preference), organic lentils and beans
Healthy Fats: Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Grass-Fed Organic Ghee, Animal fats from grass-fed meats; Avocado, Nuts and Seeds
Organic Fruit: Berries, Pomegranate, Pears and Melons
Organic Vegetables: Greens of all kinds; Cruciferous vegetables , Beets and Carrots.
Want more naturally way to support your hormones? Visit me on October 6th for Yoga for Health Hormones workshop or reach out to schedule a free 20 minute consultation at www.dianazic.com
**Click here for 12 FREE Tips for Optimizing your Fertility Health.