Are you depressed, anxious, emotional, lacking energy, have PMS, have acne, or lacking libido? You could have imbalanced hormones!
Let's start with what is the endocrine system
The endocrine system includes the areas in the body that regulate and produce hormones. Hormones are the messengers that allow our organs and cells to communicate to produce a coordinated effect. Without our endocrine system, various parts of the body would work independently from one another. Some of the organs that produce hormones includes the pineal gland (which sets the circadian rhythm), the thyroid (which sets cellular metabolism), the pancreas (which is involved in digestion and blood sugar control), the ovaries & testes (which produce the sex hormones estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone), and the adrenal glands (which produce cortisol that balances emotional and physiological stress to maintain homeostasis).
The hormone levels fluctuate through the day and are released in a pulsatile manner throughout the hour, day or month. This pulsatile release is set by the circadian rhythm. Melatonin can be considered the re-set button for the circadian rhythm and it allows the body to recover and repair from work done during the day. The caveat, is that melatonin is produced during the stage of deep sleep, making good healthy sleep critical for balancing the endocrine system.
What are the top factors that throw off balance within the endocrine system?
- inadequate sleep.
- Environmental pollutants: exhaust fumes, pesticides, paint fumes, heavy metals, plastics, unfiltered drinking water, smoking, and estrogens found in water bottles and makeup.
- A lack of Vitamin D from staying in the office too long and not getting out in the sun. Yes, this is how you can still be Vitamin D deficient in Southern California. Vitamin D is a potent modulator of the endocrine system, especially with the sex hormones.
- Emotions - the production and release of our neurotransmitters (GABA, serotonin, dopamine, etc) are linked with the endocrine hormones. An imbalance in one system, whether it's an insufficient production of a neurotransmitter like serotonin, can throw off the balance of the other system.
- Stress - whether emotional or physical such as from chronic pain like endometriosis, will cause an consistent rise in cortisol from the adrenals. This will alter neurotransmitter production (affecting your emotions), it will deplete nutrients needed to produce other hormones and neurotransmitters, it will steal the production line away from other hormones and shunt the production supplies to making cortisol (creating imbalances in hormones such as estrogen and progesterone), and it burns through key nutrients such as the B vitamins, zinc, and Vitamin C. A stress is more than just an emotional stress, it can also be from a physical stress such as from persistent low blood sugar, chronic pain, chronic disease, inflammation, food allergies, and imbalances in the gut.
Food is Medicine
You can start to heal your endocrine system through nutrition. The phrase "you are what you eat" rings true.