Think hormones only affect some women and only affect them once a month? Think again, hormones affect so much more than we realise
If I said hormones to you, what would come to mind? Many of us would think of periods, fertility, pregnancy and the menopause. Possibly mood swings, weight gain, cravings, hot flushes and pimples would feature too. For others, and speaking from experience, the word alone fills us with dread as symptoms from conditions like PCOS and endometriosis govern our lives.
When balanced, our hormones can create a beautiful, synchronised dance, like a graceful Viennese waltz. But for many of us, it feels more like we are doing the hokey cokey. On the wrong feet!
I think many don’t really understand the importance of hormones. It’s not a criticism at all, merely an observation. We simply learn the basics in school and then, once periods set in, we associate hormones with a with crazy rollercoaster. If I knew then what I know now, things may have played out very differently.
The hormone 101
So what are hormones then you ask? Put simply, our hormones are the body’s chemical messengers. Every moment of the day, they whizz through the bloodstream, travelling to our organs to let them know the work that needs to be done.
There’s a hormone for all our functions, too – even those you didn’t even know existed! There’s a love hormone (oxytocin); a stress hormone (cortisol); the metabolism regulator (thyroid) and a sleep-inducing hormone (melatonin). Throw into the mix the sex hormones (progesterone, oestrogen and testosterone) needed for a healthy cycle and fertility, and even a hunger-quelling hormone (leptin) and hunger-inducing hormone (ghrelin). And you realise how important they are.
Of course, I could go on, and there are many, many more. But, really all you need to know is that there’s a hormone for everything and they affect everything.
I personally think hormones need more air time, so here are five things you may not know about your hormones:
- To stay balanced, our hormones need a constant supply of nutrients, fat and protein from the food that we eat. Together these provide the building blocks for healthy hormone production.
- Hormones get us out of danger’s way. When we’re stressed or scared, this fight or flight technique kicks in. Our bodies have evolved so that we produce cortisol, AKA the stress hormone when we’re in survival mode. Or perhaps running from a tiger or moving out of the way of an oncoming car, this can save our lives. But, when we’re not and we live in a constant chronic state of stress, it can be damaging.
- Hormones are vital to our enjoyment between the sheets. The king of va-va-voom, testosterone – in both sexes – boosts your libido. Happy, balanced hormones can also help us to hit better highs during sex. While orgasms trigger the release of oxytocin, the self-styled love hormone.
- The female body is pretty amazing, and we have hormones to thank for our gorgeous curves. Oestrogen is responsible for our fabulous female characteristics, such as hips, breasts, and even our pitch of voice.
- But on the flip side, hormones can cause that dreaded muffin top. When we eat too many high sugar, refined carbs, it causes us to store excess fat. Too much cortisol can also feed that muffin top! Hello stress again….
There you have it, five things to help you think about hormones a little differently, let me know which one surprised you the most.
I go into more detail about hormones my book, The Balance Plan. For more individual support, or if you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the conflicting information out there, please get in touch or pop in to see me in my clinic – I’d love to hear from you and welcome you to my tribe!
Angelique Panagos is a registered nutritional therapist, author of The Balance Plan, thought-provoking speaker and total foodie. She specialises in hormonal health, stress management, weight management and digestive wellness. Her philosophy is that food is healing and nourishing, affecting each cell in our body – impacting our lives, bodies, emotions, and even our thoughts. Her approach works to make people feel their best in a supportive yet inspiring way.
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