Millions of women are affected by hormone changes throughout their lives, however after 40 these fluctuations can cause very serious symptoms. They can include:
- Fatigue & Exhaustion
- Weight Gain (concentration tending towards and abdomen)
- Increased Stress (or decreased stress resilience)
- Mood Swings/ Depression
- Brain Fog (Reduction in focus, concentration and memory)
- Hot flashes, Night sweats, or PMS
What are Hormones?
Hormones are often considered to be about Premenstrual syndrome (PMS), pregnancy and menopause. Many, including some doctors, are unaware of the extent to which hormones control us.
There are over 100 identified hormones in the body and each one has a job to do. They essentially act as a communication system dictating how we feel, think, eat, move, metabolize, digest, sleep and function.
The endocrine system – how hormones work
Hormones are made in the endocrine glands and travel around in our blood. Some hormones are general and act on nearly every cell, like the those produced by the thyroid gland, others have very specific roles like aldosterone, which acts on the kidney to retain water.
A selection of what they do on a daily basis:
- control your heartbeat, breathing and blood pressure
- allow you to sleep at night and wake in the morning
- control your hunger, metabolism and growth
- determine your masculine and feminine traits, and reproductive function
- build bone, repair skin and muscle
- regulate fat stores
- control your energy levels, mood and stress resilience
- regulate brain activity - thinking, memory, focus, mood
- control blood sugar levels and stimulate your immune system
- lessen pain and make you happy
The Four Main Hormones
Out of the 100 or so hormones there are four major hormones that strongly affect how we look, feel, think and behave.
In your 20’s and 30’s, hormone balance is generally optimal as the body is in full reproductive mode. However as ovarian function declines from 35 onwards, hormones can start to fluctuate, resulting in common symptoms including fatigue, weight gain, mood swings, brain fog, memory loss, PMS, hot flushes, anxiety and more…
Refined carbohydrates (sugary foods) can upset blood sugar balance and promote insulin resistance leading to fat storage and increased risk of diabetes.
Trans-fats (processed foods) can promote inflammation and oxidative stress, which can increase cortisol and suppress thyroid and sex hormones.
Stress stimulates the release of cortisol, which in excess can inhibit thyroid function (metabolism, energy, weight loss) and suppress progesterone which can have an impact on your sleep and long-term stress resilience.
Toxins and chemicals in our air, food, water and household products can interfere with hormone function. These chemicals are called Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals and have been shown to disrupt our own hormones by mimicking oestrogen and damaging mitochondria.
Balanced exercise. Sitting, and/or minimal exercise, is linked to hormone imbalance; however too much exercise also increases cortisol.