From digestion to fighting depression, hormones play an incredibly important role in our body. Here are 7 reasons to pay close attention to your hormones to live a life of wellness.
What do we all have inside of us that’s silent, invisible, and critical to our health and happiness?
Hormones, of course! We usually associate hormones with PMS, pregnancy and libido - and rightly so; hormones are at the centre of each of these experiences. However, our hormones are critical to many more aspects of our health and happiness.
They are as much a part of our reproductive system as they are a part of our urinary, respiratory, cardiovascular, nervous, muscular, skeletal, immune and digestive systems.
What are hormones and how do they work?
Hormones are chemical messengers that are made in an organ or gland. Each gland produces specific hormones designed to carry out specific tasks. Our hormones travel via the bloodstream and other body fluids to their specific target organs and tissues to modify and control their functions.
They control the rates of chemical reactions, assist in transporting substances through membranes, and help regulate water balance, electrolyte balance and blood pressure. Physiologically speaking, hormones control everything we feel - including whether we’re hungry, hot or horny. They manage our development, growth, reproduction and behaviour.
Have you ever heard the term, hormonal imbalance? If you’ve ever struggled with your mood, blood sugar levels, stress, fertility, weight, sleep, gut health or your skin - then you’re probably very familiar with the battle to find hormonal balance. Hormones induce, regulate and control almost all bodily functions, so it’s not an exaggeration to say that most disorders and many diseases result from some kind of hormonal imbalance.
Getting to know some of the major hormones and what they do can help us take control of our health and happiness - and these are 7 reasons why.
1. Eat, drink, sleep, repeat
The hypothalamus is often called the master gland because one of its most important functions is to link the nervous system to the hormonal (endocrine) system. This master gland synthesises and secretes neurohormones that stimulate or inhibit the secretion of hormones from the pituitary and pineal glands.
As our hunger, thirst, sleep cycles and emotions are all regulated by neurohormones, an imbalance here can derail our basic daily functions.
2. Digestion and gut health
Like many conditions, a hormonal imbalance can be the result of poor gut health. However, it also works the other way; out of whack hormones can wreak havoc on our delicate gut microbiome!
Around 90% of a brain hormone called serotonin is made in the gut. Serotonin is a major contributor to our happiness and wellbeing, so we must prioritise our gut health.
Tip: If you struggle with hormonal acne, bloating or poor mental health, it’s especially important to feed your beneficial gut bacteria with a combination of prebiotics and probiotics. Sarah’s Day Body Bloom has a balanced blend of both, with a delicious natural berry flavour.
3. Immune function
We know that gut health and mental health are not only intertwined, but both are reliant on a healthy hormonal balance. However, no hormone works in isolation from other hormones; they all function within a complex web of interconnectedness. So it makes sense that our immune function is also impacted by our gut health and hormonal balance.
Imbalances in our thyroid and adrenal hormones, as well as testosterone, oestrogen and progesterone, can hinder the immune system and increase our risk of infection and autoimmune conditions.
If you find yourself getting sick frequently, it may be time to take a good look at your gut health and hormonal balance.
4. Bonding, connection and relationships
Oxytocin is known as the bonding hormone, and this invisible chemical is the reason hugs feel so damn good. When we’re physically close with a loved one, or even when we cuddle our pets, our oxytocin levels increase.
This powerful neurotransmitter not only influences our social interactions and acts as an antidote to depressive feelings, but studies also support the possibility that healthy oxytocin levels may decrease the likelihood of cheating in romantic relationships.
So, you can imagine how severely an oxytocin imbalance could impact your social, emotional and mental wellbeing!
5. Sex drive and fertility
In addition to thirst, hunger and sleep, the hypothalamus controls our sex drive. It also lets other glands, such the adrenals and ovaries, know when to release the hormones that influence our fertility and sexual activity.
It’s no secret that hormonal imbalances can upset our monthly cycles, which are a reflection of our overall physical health.
Tip: Did you know that women are only fertile (at most) about 5 days out of each month? If you’re serious about hormonal health and your overall wellbeing, it’s really important to explore non-hormonal methods of contraception. The pill is a form of chemical castration, so it’s no surprise that it may potentially reduce your sex drive, lead to Depression and exacerbate autoimmune diseases. Here are 7 ways hormonal birth control could potentially harm women.
6. Mood and mental health
Remember puberty? For both men and women, adolescence can be an emotional roller coaster because our changing bodies take some time to find hormonal balance. Puberty is usually our first experience of the impact our hormones can have on our mood and mental wellbeing. However, when imbalances continue into adulthood, our moods and mental health can really suffer.
Progesterone, oestrogen, testosterone, cortisol and the thyroid hormones are some of the major players when it comes to our mental wellbeing. Getting to know these hormones, along with the lifestyle choices that best support them can make a world of difference to how we experience life.
7. Weight, strength and physique
Despite our best efforts to eat well and train hard, a hormonal imbalance can prevent us from reaching our fitness and physique goals. The thyroid gland is the most important glad when it comes to our fitness and physique. Located in our throat, the thyroid produces two hormones that control our metabolism, heart rate, energy and protein synthesis.
They are thyroxine (T4) and thyronine (T3), and they affect the metabolism of almost every cell in our body. Not only does your metabolism dictate your ability to lose or gain weight, but it also determines your energy levels, internal temperature, skin, hair, nail growth, and more. Another important hormone released by the thyroid gland is calcitonin, which is necessary for bone construction and bone density.
Adiponectin is known as the fat-fighting hormone because it helps our muscles use carbohydrates for energy, increases our metabolism, and speeds the rate at which our bodies break down fat stores. Strangely, our fat cells release this hormone, but leaner people have higher adiponectin levels than those who carry extra weight.
Tip: Eat plenty of monounsaturated fats from avocados, olive oil, nuts, and seeds to naturally increase your levels of adiponectin.
All the systems in our body are interconnected, so when some of our hormones are out of balance, there is a snowball effect that can cause severe and life-altering symptoms. When they are in balance, however, our hormones help us thrive physically, mentally and emotionally.
We've barely scratched the surface of how and why our hormones keep us happy and healthy - but you get the idea! Adding Maca Powder to your diet is a great first step to finding your balance - the caffeine-free burst of energy is just a bonus!