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When you think about hormones, a few images may come to mind. Do you think about high school and intense mood swings? Or do you think about the hormones driving your libido? Maybe it’s something you think only applies to women?
Hormones play a much bigger role in your body operating at "normal" than some people realize. When your hormones are out of balance, tell-tale signs can alert you to what’s amiss. In fact, many of the symptoms that you may be dealing with could be a direct result of your hormones being off kilter.
So, what do hormones do? How do they work? And why are hormones important for a healthy lifestyle?
What Are Hormones?
Hormones are chemical messengers produced by glands that allow cells in various parts of your body to communicate. Compared to neurotransmitters, the electrical messengers of the body, hormones take more time to reach their target but have longer-lasting impacts. Think of it like the difference between sending a txt message and sitting down to a dinner with that same person. One is short, quick, and gets critical information across. The other is multi-layered communication that makes a huge difference over time.
Different Types of Hormones
Although we may refer to hormones as a single group, hormones differ in what they’re made of and their major roles in the body. So what are hormones made of? Generally speaking, hormones are made from nutrients we can synthesize in our bodies but need to get from our diets: cholesterol, proteins, and tyrosine.
Steroid hormones are made from cholesterol and are more commonly known as sex hormones.
Peptide hormones are made from proteins or short chains of amino acids (also referred to as polypeptides).
Tyrosine-derived hormones are made from tyrosine, a conditionally essential amino acid.
Knowing what hormones are made of is only part of the story, though. It doesn’t tell you how they work and where hormones are produced.
How Do Hormones Work?
Hormones are reactionary molecules, meaning that some sort of stimulus triggers their production. The stimulus tells the endocrine gland or multiple glands to start producing certain hormones.
Once the glands create hormones, the hormones travel through your blood and connect to specific receptors to “send their messages.” After enough hormone molecules have connected to their receptors to help the body’s cells react to the stimulus, things calm down until the hormones are needed again.
Here’s a list of the endocrine glands and where some major hormones are produced (there will be a quiz by your 8th grade teacher at the end):
Adrenal gland - produces cortisol, adrenaline, and aldosterone
Pineal - produces melatonin
Pituitary - produces growth hormone, oxytocin, endorphins, thyroid-stimulating hormone,
Hypothalamus - produces oxytocin, anti-diuretic hormone, dopamine
Thyroid - produces triiodothyronine (T3), thyroxine (T4), and calcitonin
Parathyroid - produces parathyroid hormones
Pancreas - produces insulin, glucagon, somatostatin
Gonads (ovaries and testes) - produce testosterone, estrogens, and progesterone
What’s The Endocrine System Have To Do With Hormones?
Altogether, these glands and traveling hormones make up the endocrine system. The endocrine system helps your body maintain a variety of essential functions. If your body was a city, the endocrine system is the numerous essential workers keeping the lights on, the water running, and quietly making sure you are able to go about your day.
Major Functions of the Endocrine System
Understanding what is the function of hormones in our body’s systems really gives you an appreciation for what these little chemical messengers can do. Here are just a few of the functions of hormones:
Reproductive Function: The hormones testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone are responsible for physical changes during puberty, fertility, menstrual cycles, and a healthy libido.
Metabolic Function and Appetite: Hormones help control our body’s appetite and satiety signals. Ghrelin is a hormone released when you’re hungry, while leptin lets you know when to stop eating. Hormones like insulin and glucagon control your blood sugar and support the healthy metabolism of carbs, fats, and proteins.
Mood Regulation and Brain Function: Hormones affect the brain's chemistry and can cause changes in our mood and cognitive function. Changes in estrogen and testosterone levels can impact mood beyond neurotransmitter influences.
Growth and Development: Hormones not only control growth from childhood through puberty but hormones like IGF-1, growth hormone, thyroid hormones, and sex hormones also support healthy bones and tissues throughout your lifetime.
Circadian Rhythm: The circadian rhythm is our body’s natural clock that regulates our sleep-wake cycle and the ebb and flow of biological processes throughout the day. Melatonin is essential for a healthy sleep cycle and maintaining homeostasis.
Homeostasis: Your circadian rhythm and all of the hormones in your body support the regulation of your body temperature, heartbeat, blood pressure, stress response, inflammation, and metabolism.
Why Do Hormonal Imbalances Happen?
Our bodies work hard to keep all of our hormones in normal balance, but lifestyle habits and biological factors can throw our hormones out of whack. Think of it as you not taking care of the city can result in those essential workers just not showing up for work, going on strike, or being sent to the wrong places at the wrong time.
Poor sleep habits
Inflammation and injury
Excess alcohol intake
Signs and Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance
Hormonal imbalances can be temporary, such as menstrual changes, or they can be the result of a chronic issue. And hormonal imbalance has just as much impact on men as it can on women. It can be quite easy to tell when your body is going through a hormonal imbalance, because you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
Constipation or diarrhea
Higher cholesterol levels
Unexplained weight loss or weight gain
Fast or slow heartbeat
Lower sex drive
Changes in appetite
Poor sleep quality
Changes in hair or skin (acne or skin flaking)
Decline in memory and brain fog
Decreased muscle mass
Restoring and Maintaining Hormonal Balance
Now that you know what hormones do and you can take steps to keep them in balance. Making lifestyle changes can be the best natural remedy against hormonal imbalances.
Choose a healthy diet with lean protein, healthy fats, vegetables, and fruits at each meal. Limit refined carbohydrates, processed meats, red meat, and unhealthy fats.
Exercise regularly to reduce stress hormones and can help regulate other hormones such as insulin, thyroid hormones, and testosterone.
Avoid endocrine disruptors by choosing BPA-free plastics and purchasing products made with clean ingredients.
Control your stress through meditation or other stress-relieving activities to reduce cortisol levels
Stress management is probably one the biggest things you can do to keep hormones in balance and operating the way they are supposed to. Support the production and balance of hormones in your body with natural, plant-based adaptogens. Nutraceuticals can help your body handle stress and protect against endocrine disruptors that may cause hormonal imbalances.
The Rebalance System™ is a unique formulation for men and women to support healthy hormone levels and help you get back to limitless living. The Directline™ delivery method helps your body absorb hormone-balancing ingredients like maca root, ashwagandha, and cordyceps up to 3-5x more effectively than other nutraceuticals.
Hormones quite literally make you who you are at any given moment. Taking care of them, providing the best environment for them to thrive is imperative.
To learn more about how hormones can make or break your day, and what you can do to get them back to working their best for you, take a listen to a conversation between our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Todd Dorfman, and Grabby Reece.