Have you ever felt off for no apparent reason? Have you ever felt mentally and physically run down and you just don’t understand why? Maybe you’ve put on a few pounds out of nowhere, or perhaps your skin is flaring up in ways you only thought were possible during those awkward teenage years. While many people turn to unhealthy fad diets as a way to ditch the pesky pounds, or anti-depressant medications to put their minds at ease, you may be looking for answers in all the wrong places. Rather than trying to fix each individual issue, start asking yourself why your entire body is turning against you. Many times when people feel off, it’s a sign their hormones are out of whack.
While a lot of people associate the word “hormones” with raging teens and women in their 50’s, they affect everyone from the time we’re born until the time we die. To put it simply, hormones are special chemical messengers in the body that control everything from hunger and weight management to emotions and reproduction. Our bodies have many different hormones, each is responsible for a different bodily function.
As you can see, our hormones are incredibly important to our overall health and well-being. When we take care of them and they are in proper balance, hormones help the entire body to thrive and function properly. If problems arise with our hormones, though, it can cause major life-altering symptoms.
For obvious reasons, hormone imbalance is extremely common among women going through puberty, women going through perimenopause and menopause, pregnant women, and women who take birth control pills. But women in these stages of life aren’t the only ones susceptible to hormonal changes. Hormone imbalance can also be a result of thyroid issues, diabetes, and various illnesses. Your hormones can also get thrown out of whack as a result of inconsistent sleep patterns, living a high-stress lifestyle, eating a poor diet, and not getting enough exercise.
Below are 11 common hormone imbalance symptoms and natural ways you can regain control of your well-being.
1) Weight Gain
As an adult, have you ever met a scale that you liked? While weight fluctuations are without a doubt greatly affected by diet and exercise, your hormones also play a large role in what number pops up on the scale. We have several hormones that directly impact our weight, one of the most talked about is insulin. If our bodies become insulin resistant (which is quite common), this hormone can negatively affect how our body stores certain nutrients.
You see, insulin and carbohydrates are closely linked. The more carbs you eat, the more insulin will be released in the body. An overload of insulin leaves glucose (AKA sugar) to run wild in the body. The result? Instead of using the excess sugar to feed your muscles after exercise or produce energy for your cells, most of the carbs you consume just get stored as fat (unwanted fat). For people who are insulin resistant, it feels like they will never be able to get rid of the excess fat. However, there are a few things you can do.
To help balance your fat hormones, you must first clean up your diet. Eating a diet that’s low in processed carbohydrates and rich in healthy fats and proteins can make a world of difference.
We’ve all had those days where we binge eat on junk food and then look back and wonder, “WHY DID I JUST DO THAT!” Well, the answer to that question is probably your hormones made you do it! While we have a number of hormones that affect cravings and hunger, one of the most common is Ghrelin.
Ghrelin is often referred to as the “hunger hormone.” To put it simply, the higher your ghrelin levels are, the hungrier you are. In certain studies, researchers found people given the hormone ate significantly more than their usual food intake. This particular hormone is mainly produced in the stomach and works by signaling the brain to let it know the body wants food. It also stimulates the brain’s “pleasure centers,” making you remember how good that first bite tasted.
While diet plays a role in keeping ghrelin levels balanced, new studies show prioritizing sleep is one of the main factors in reducing this hunger hormone. Chronic lack of sleep increases ghrelin (and other hormones that can affect appetite), making you feel hungry when you don’t really need to eat. As a general rule of thumb, aim to get between seven to nine hours of sleep a night.
3) Mood Swings
When it comes to mood swings, a lot of women blame their hormones. If you’ve ever gotten emotional over something that wouldn’t usually trigger such a reaction from you, and then used your hormones as an excuse, you’ll be happy to know that it’s not just an “excuse.” When various hormones (such as estrogen, progesterone, and the stress hormone cortisol) in our body aren’t balanced, it directly affects our mood. Additionally, doctors say women going through menopause experience a decrease in the “happy hormone,” serotonin. A decrease in serotonin levels leads to worse moods.
Rather than turning to anti-depressant medications at the first sign of anxiety or depression, try reducing your stress level and increasing your serotonin levels naturally. This can help rebalance your hormones and put a smile back on your face. Some of the top ways you can naturally de-stress include:
- Going for a walk outside
- Practicing yoga
- Drinking soothing teas
- Eating stress-fighting foods
- Taking an Epsom salt bath (AKA detox bath)
- Getting adequate sleep
Do you find yourself laying in bed for hours unable to sleep? Do you stare at the ceiling in agony, counting hundreds of sheep as you try your hardest to drift off into dreamland? If that sounds all too familiar, your hormones may be to blame.
Insomnia can occur when stress hormones are thrown off. Additionally, during both perimenopause and menopause, women’s ovaries don’t produce as much estrogen and progesterone, a sleep-promoting hormone. This change in hormone balance contributes to a terrible night’s sleep filled with tossing and turning. Unfortunately, poor sleep quality can lead to a slew of other health issues, which can, in turn, hinder a good night’s sleep. It really does become a vicious cycle.
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