Can you relate to any of these statements?
- I don’t understand. I eat a relatively healthy diet. I exercise regularly but I don’t seem to loose any weight. In fact I am gaining weight!
- I am exhausted, I sleep for 9 hours. As soon as I wake up in the morning, I still feel exhausted and reach for my coffee. I might have 3 cups to get me through the day.
- I need to get some work done, but I can’t focus. It seems I have this huge cloud lingering over my head.
If you answered yes to any of these questions, don’t worry you are not alone. Many people suffer from these symptoms.
What can we do? Well in the first place, we need to understand 3 things that affect our hormones and then we need to take charge.
- How and why hormones get imbalanced.
- How diet and lifestyle affect our hormones.
- The type of exercise we do has an impact on our hormones.
Step #1. So why do our hormones get imbalanced? In a nutshell, hormones are produced in the ovaries (in women)/testes (in men) and adrenal glands. Once we reach menopause (women)/andropause (men) the ovaries/testes shut down and the adrenal glands take over to continue giving us support and proper functioning.
What we need to understand is that the Adrenal glands are responsible for the flight or flight mode. When the body is perceived to be under attack i.e STRESSED, the adrenal glands will always prioritize and produce cortisol “ the stress hormone “ over the sex hormones.
What is stress?
The body perceives stress as any of the following 6 factors:
Mental stress- 2. Emotional stress- 3. Physical stress-4. Biomechanical stress (problem with body alignment or posture) – 5. Chemical stress (chemical reactions in the body not working properly) and 6. Physiological stress (food intolerances, gut dis -function, inflammation, infections etc…. )
Stress would signal to the body that there is a threat to its survival and cortisol would be produced. Hormone production will be put on hold until it deals with the threat. The problem is that as long as the threat is short term we do not have a problem but once the threat seems to be continuing for a very long term, that is when we get out of balance and the problems and symptoms begin to appear.
Symptoms of hormone Imbalance:
INABILITY TO LOOSE WEIGHT, INSOMNIA, HEADACHES, POOR MEMORY, ANXIETY, BRAIN FOG, FATIGUE, MUSCLE/BONE LOSS, HAIRLOSS, TENDER BREASTS, PMS, HOT FLASHES (IN WOMEN) AND LOSS OF LIBIDO.
If we look for the root cause and understand what is causing our stress then we can begin to solve our problem.
Step #2. How diet and lifestyle affect our hormones.
When we do not eat properly and do not bring in the nutritious aspects of food we deplete our body from vitamins, minerals, good fats and protein, and we toxify our bodies by eating processed food that is laden with bad fats and sugar. As a result our body reacts and goes into inflammation and irritation mode, which then results into food intolerances, Gut dysbiosis, bloating, gas, abdominal pain and then if not addressed develops into a full blown disease which is causing the adrenal glands to detect our bodies are under attack and produces a lot of cortisol. Our hormones are put on hold for a very long time until the body can cure itself from the problem. In the meantime reaping havoc on our hormones and body.
We all react differently to our stress response. This gives us our bio-individuality. Although some allergies/intolerances are immediately obvious such as peanuts there are many others that go undetected and take a day or two before they appear. It is only when we are listening and in tuned to our body that we can understand the call for help instead of reaching for that pill.
We need to understand the importance of sleep as well on hormone production. The adrenal glands do most of their regeneration between the hours of 10pm and 12 pm. So missing out on sleep and sleeping beyond 12 can lead to an imbalance in hormones
You may ask: what is the solution?
- You need to go on an elimination diet where we find your tacks and remove them.
- You need to make a conscious effort to eat healthier.
- Stop living for other people and live for yourself. “Be at peace with yourself”
- Practice meditation and breathing techniques.
Step #3. The type of exercise and its impact on Hormones.
What many people do not seem to realize is that exercise is actually very stressful on the body if we already have an adrenal and hormone imbalance, what we are actually doing is setting us up for a chronic stress response disaster.
Why you may ask? Lets go back a few steps. If we have a normal condition and we are not stressed then our hormones are working beautiful and everything in our body is working fine. Our adrenal glands are producing very little cortisol and our sex hormones are functioning very well. But lets bring in now lack of sleep, inflammation, food intolerances, low immunity because of all the antibiotics we consume, emotional, physical, mental stress and all the other stressors following me… Then the adrenal glands are seeing this and picking it up and are producing more cortisol and the vicious cycle begins.
What must you do?
- Do not exercise beyond and 1hr 30mins and exhaust yourself.
- Do not exercise when you’re sick or fatigued. Your body needs rest.
- Stick to yoga, pilates and walking when exhausted.
- Do high intensity interval training
- Do weight training.
Exercise should make you feel energized. If you are exhausted then notch it down and find the root cause of your problem and fix it before it becomes full blown.