How do hormones play a role in your health?
Hormones do not only affect the way we are feeling during adolescence, they play a continual role throughout our lives. Hormones affect our metabolism, stress levels and reproductive system. There are many hormones that influence our own health.
So how do these hormones affect our overall health?
A major hormone which is influenced by what we eat is insulin. It is one of the biggest influences for many health areas. Insulin is a hormone that is secreted by the pancreas after you eat carbohydrates. When you eat carbohydrates they are absorbed into the bloodstream, naturally causing your blood glucose levels to rise. The pancreas then secretes insulin in order to help the body process the blood glucose. Insulin helps to move glucose from the blood into the cells of the body so that the cells can use the glucose as an energy source. Insulin also helps to change any excess glucose that the body does not immediately need into a storable form of energy called glycogen found in the liver.
Leptin and ghrelin are hormones that tell us when to eat and when to stop eating.
Ghrelin is produced in the stomach and pancreas and alerts your brain when your stomach is empty. Leptin is secreted by fat cells and triggers appetite=suppressing hormones when you’ve eaten enough. These hormones are an evenly matched duo that can be affected by sugar. Too much sugar can obstruct leptin production which then leaves ghrelin to send out unnecessary hunger signals.
Cortisol is a stress hormone which is released from the brain into your bloodstream. In times of stress and anxiety, it accelerates your heartbeat, feeds your brain extra oxygen, and releases energy from your fat and glucose stores.
Our mood and memory are partly controlled by serotonin which is often produced in the gut. Serotonin is commonly known as the feel-good hormone or neurotransmitter.
Testosterone is the male sex hormone produced by the testes. Testosterone causes a young males voice to deepen and in grown men, it supports a healthy libido, builds muscle mass and helps maintain energy levels. Too little testosterone reduced sexual desire, performance and contributes to fertility problems.
Women’s ovaries also produce a minimal amount of testosterone which drives sexual desire, muscle strength, bone density, and metabolism. Too little testosterone can affect a woman’s energy level, libido and mood health. Too much testosterone in women can contribute to acne and facial hair.
Oestrogen and progesterone are female sex hormones found in the ovaries. Oestrogen is primarily a female sex hormone. Oestrogen enlarges breasts and widens the pelvis, and it is what gives women that curvy appearance. Oestrogen also stimulates a female’s instinct, increases alertness, lowers body fat levels, increases insulin sensitivity, and improved glucose tolerance. Symptoms of low oestrogen can occur at any age, but they are more prominent in menopause.
Progesterone increases sleepiness, helps to build and maintain bones, slows the digestive process, promotes appetite and helps breast tissue mature. It also stimulates the production of breast milk during pregnancy. Symptoms of low progesterone include premenstrual migraines, irregular or heavy periods, and anxiety.
Adele Graiche – Naturopath
B. App Sc (Naturopathic Studies)