I can already imagine the male readers of the article getting ready to run at the mention of hormones. But wait just one second guys this is not something that only affects women…. In fact over the last ten years there has been an increase in what has become known as Irritable Male Syndrome. This is based on fluctuations of testosterone levels in men.
With this in mind it is easy to see why a correct understanding of our hormones and how to keep them in balance is vital for our long term health, wellbeing and marital bliss.
Our hormones are a product of the endocrine system which represents one of the two methods of communication within the body. We have already discussed the nervous system in previous editions of this newsletter. This is best likened to the internet of the body, with electrical impulses and signals travelling along cables, or nerve fibres, to the relevant part of the body. The endocrine system by contrast, is a comparatively slower acting system but has a much broader sphere of action and longer lasting effects.
One of the first things we need to say is that the endocrine system is big…. really big. To try and tackle this in just one article is impossible. So in this article we will tackle a few of the hormones that tend to cause people the most trouble. These include the complex balance between oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone.
In an ideal world the interaction between hormones and receptor sites are the basis of a myriad of highly beneficial reactions. The very miracle of reproduction entails a cascade of hormonal reactions occurring at exactly the right times and in exactly the right quantities. When these hormones get out of balance however we begin to experience symptoms like:
- weight gain that is resistant to diet and exercise;
- breast tenderness and headaches;
- anxiety and tearfulness;
- moods swings;
- hot flushes and insomnia;
- foggy thinking and reduced libido;
- fatigue and depression.
Once again gents, these symptoms affect you too. As men age, or due to dietary and lifestyle factors, production of testosterone begins to either decline or production of oestrogen increases. The end result is an increased ratio of oestrogen and all the factors listed above.
So the big question is how can we go about reducing the oestrogen levels and bringing the correct balance back?
It is very important to test hormone levels to ensure the correct approach is taken. The guidelines below have been based on excessive levels of oestrogen in the body, and in the majority of situations this is exactly what happens, however it is important to preserve the correct balance. Testing is normally undertaken using urine samples collected over a 24 hour period or by blood test. In addition to the levels of oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone this also provides valuable information about other steroidal hormones in the body including DHEA.
There are a number of changes in the diet that will help eliminate or prevent the build up of oestrogens in the body.
- Eating a diet with a good fibre source at each meal has been shown to be beneficial in eliminating oestrogen’s from the body. Fibre sources include fruit, vegetables and wholegrains. 1/2 cup of vegetables, dried beans or cooked pasta all equal one serving of fibre. However, the vegetables or beans will be far easier on the waistline and digestion than the pasta;
- Incorporate different forms of cruciferous vegetables including cauliflower, broccoli and brussels sprouts in the diet. It has long been suggested that cruciferous vegetables are beneficial for those suffering many forms of cancer, including prostate and breast cancer. Recent research has confirmed this making a cruciferous vegetables hormonal power foods;
- Utilise substitutes such as rice milk in place of cow’s milk. Unlike their pasture-fed counterparts of 100 years ago, modern dairy cows are usually pregnant and continue to lactate during the latter half of pregnancy, when the concentration of oestrogens in blood, and hence in milk, increases.
- Wherever possible try to purchase organic fruit, vegetables and more importantly meat. While hormones will naturally be present in meat products, choosing organic products will reduce the risk of additional hormones being added.
In addition to dietary sources of excess oestrogens we also need to look at environmental sources. There has been a lot of attention given to Bisphenol A (BPA) over the last twelve to eighteen months. BPA is a component used in the manufacture of plastics that has been shown to leech oestrogenic compounds into the substances they contained, particularly when heated. BPA however is just one of many sources of environmental oestrogens with many of the daily household products and cosemtics also being contributors. Some other common environmental oestrogens include parabens, placental extracts, benzophenones, petroleum-derived products such as mineral oil.
Another practice beneficial for those effected by high oestrogen levels, not to mention a part of a healthy lifestyle, is exercise. While when feeling fatigued and depressed it can be hard to get to the gym, research has shown that 30-45 minutes of exercise four to five times per week effectively reduced oestrogen levels. Aerobic exercises, such as walking, a class or jogging has been shown to be more effective than anaerobic and stretching exercises.
There are a number of supplements that can assist in balancing hormone levels. Some of the more readily available supplements include those based on yam, soy and dong quai. For something a little more soothing than just taking a tablet, aromatherapy massage with essential oils such as chamomile, clary sage, pine and rose have also proven beneficial. Other more powerful supplements include practitioner only products that stimulate detoxification processes to remove excess oestrogens from the body.
The good news from this is that the symptoms associated with out of balance hormones are reversible with simple focus on nutrition and lifestyle supported, if needed, by relevant supplementation. It’s important to remember however that our bodies are all about balance. Oestrogen serves a number of beneficial roles in the body, however when the balance between progesterone and oestrogen are disrupted trouble is not far away. To develop a hormonal balancing program to suit your specific needs contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org
Passion 4 Health is a wellness clinic located in Browns Plains, Brisbane. At Passion 4 Health we focus on management and maintenance of optimum health through an integrated lifestyle approach.
I provide diet and nutritional advice, iridology and live blood analysis.
Find out how you can reduce chronic disease and maintain optimum health by calling us now on 07 3800 1993.