From the thickness of your hair to your morning mood, your hormones have a huge impact on your daily life. If you’ve been feeling moody, ill, or just generally “off,” your hormones could be the culprit. Hormones are produced by several glands within our endocrine system, like the hypothalamus, pancreas, and pituitary. Each gland, which can be found throughout your body, produces a unique hormone which regulates a different aspect of our bodily functions.
Some people find it easiest to think of our hormones as messengers since they control functions like eating and reproduction by triggering our body to perform certain tasks when they present themselves. For example, our adrenal glands produce cortisol, a hormone that helps regulate our response to stress. A lot of cortisol means that the situation is extremely stressful, and our body will react accordingly.
If our hormones become imbalanced, it essentially means that the gland responsible for production is either producing too many hormones or isn’t producing enough. These hormone imbalances can lead to a whole host of medical issues, ranging from mild to life-threatening, until the balance is corrected.
Today, we’re going to explore what you can do if you think you have a hormone imbalance and give you some easy tips on handling it in a healthy way.
1. Be aware of your symptoms
Generally, a hormone imbalance comes with several different symptoms, depending on the hormone that is unbalanced. These symptoms could be anything from hair loss to anxiety and will generally affect a variety of different areas of your life, including your appearance, mood, weight, and cravings.
If you have several different symptoms that are making you feel uncomfortable, exhausted, or just generally not yourself, you should get checked out by a doctor immediately. Before you head in to see your GP, make a list of all your symptoms, including how long they’ve been affecting you.
2. Determine the cause of your hormone imbalance
There are several tests that your doctor can do to diagnose your hormone imbalance, which will help pinpoint the root cause. The term “hormone imbalance” encompasses a number of different conditions, including hypoglycemia, hyperthyroid, thyroid nodules, Addison’s disease, and endocrine cancer. If you carefully describe your symptoms to your doctor, they should be able to order the correct test which will determine the source of your unbalanced hormones. Depending on your diagnosis, your doctor will be able to create a treatment plan that will help you get some relief from your symptoms.
3. Medical treatment options
There are several medical options that your doctor will give you depending on the root cause of your hormone imbalance. These options generally start with medication, which will either encourage or discourage production of that particular hormone. Medications like levothyroxine for hypothyroidism and metformin for type 2 diabetes both help to correct the ongoing imbalance, while other medications like anti-androgen medications either block or completely replace the hormone in question. These medications should not be taken lightly since many come with side effects that could be as severe as symptoms that you’re currently experiencing.
4. Start your day in a healthy way
Once you’ve talked to your doctor and started any medication that they may advise for you, the next step is to proactively maintain your physical and mental health in order to better combat any symptoms that may arise due to your condition.
Starting the day with a protein-rich breakfast is a great way to ensure that your body has all the nutrients it needs. Even if you don’t have time to sit down to a full meal, you can grab a slice of toast with nut butter or avocado, a hard-boiled egg, or a smoothie with veggies and protein powder as all of these are quick, healthy, and filling.
5. Keep to a healthy diet
Since people tout breakfast as the most important meal of the day, it can be tempting to slack off on healthy eating after 11 a.m.
If you have a hormone imbalance, eating regular, healthy meals is extremely important. Focus on getting enough protein, which experts say is at least 20-30 grams per meal. You should also make a point to avoid refined carbs and foods and drinks that are heavy in sugar — these foods drive insulin resistance, which is a hormone imbalance that affects our blood sugar levels. You should also avoid periods of fasting followed by overeating since both of these activities will overstimulate the production of hormones like insulin and cortisol, which can negatively affect our health.
6. Meditate to relieve stress and anxiety
If you’re experiencing anxiety, depression, or stress because of your hormone imbalance, a regular practice of mindfulness meditation may help you. This practice focuses on staying in the moment and taking time out for yourself every day to connect with your feelings both physically and emotionally. Practicing meditation, even for just 10 minutes a day, will help you feel more in tune with your body and mind. There are tons of tutorials and apps that can help. Headspace is one of the most popular, and it comes with a free 10-day trial period.
7. Maintain a regular exercise routine
Another way that you can ensure the health of your body even during periods of hormone imbalance is to maintain a regular exercise routine. Physical activity can have a huge impact on our hormonal health. Specifically, it helps to improve insulin sensitivity, which is responsible for regulating the sugar and amino acids in our bloodstream and boosts our levels of muscle-maintaining hormones, like testosterone and growth hormone, that decline with age. Even if you aren’t able to commit to a vigorous exercise regime, you can still walk or lift light weights, which has been shown to help regulate the hormone levels of seniors.
8. Get a consistent amount of sleep
While we’re asleep, our body is busily regulating the production of our hormones, and when we interrupt this process, we put ourselves at risk for hormone imbalances. Poor sleep has been linked to several different types of hormone imbalances, including disruptions in our body’s production of growth hormone, insulin, cortisol, and leptin.
Generally, our body needs at least seven hours of high-quality, uninterrupted sleep every night to function optimally. If you find falling asleep difficult, you may need to examine your nightly routine, and make sure that you’re practicing good sleep hygiene.
9. Learn to let go
As we age, the chances that our hormones will become imbalanced is extremely high. For most people, it’s part of the normal process of aging. Women especially are likely to have at least one period of hormonal imbalance during their lifetime, especially as they experience pregnancy, birth, and menopause.
Hormone imbalances may be troubling but approaching it with an open mind and positive attitude will help. Instead of thinking of it as a huge disruption, learn to go with the flow, and accept the new reality of your life. The more you fight it, the more it will dominate your thoughts and take away from the positive aspects of your life.