Have you been feeling off lately, but you can’t put your finger on why? Or maybe you’ve been struggling to lose weight despite your attempts at exercising and eating healthier? Believe it or not, your hormones may be to blame. Your hormones travel through the bloodstream, and are responsible for making sure the organs, and other components of your body, are functioning properly. For instance, one’s emotional wellbeing, growth, sexual function, and metabolism are all controlled by hormones produced by the endocrine system.
When these hormones are in balance, then your body is in good health. However, hormones in the body can become unbalanced effecting your mental health, emotional health, physical health, or a combination of the three. Left unchecked a hormonal imbalance can even lead to long-term health issues (Hormone Health Network, 2021).
How hormones affect our general health
The hormones in your body naturally fluctuates over time as you age, but natural fluctuation is different than having a hormonal imbalance. For example, your metabolism the regulated by hormones such as insulin, and other hormones responsible for digesting food, and storing fat. Mood on the other hand, is regulated by the hormones: dopamine, serotonin, cortisol, and endorphins. If these hormones are in balance, then so is your mood. You can still experience some bad days with these hormones in balance, but your overall emotional health should remain stable (Raypole, 2019).
The sex hormones estrogen and testosterone can also play a part in mood regulation. Although, primarily they regulate sexual health and libido. Men and women produce both hormones, but at different levels as males prominently produce testosterone, and females predominantly produce estrogen. If these two hormones are at their required level, for men and women, then you can have a healthy sex drive. However, as you age it is only natural that these hormones decrease over time, especially in women after menopause (Hormone Health Network, 2021). Lastly, the one hormone not many know plays a major role in the human body is the human growth hormone (HGH).
Most know that it is a hormone responsible for growth when we’re children, but it does a lot more than that. HGH produced in the body stimulates protein synthesis while assisting in the breaking down of fat. This is important for when trying to lose weight, or increase muscle mass. Human growth hormone also has a role to play in the immune system, energy level, and having a healthy sex drive, even after the decrease of the sex hormones. All possible results are shown at the HGH timeline with a more detailed description of the dynamics of the results. (Utiger, 2021) (Body Logic MD, 2021).
Taking a closer look at hormones they can be separated by their primary functions. Understanding what hormones perform specific hormones can be a big help in realizing if you may have a hormonal imbalance.
Which hormones impact our emotional health?
The four hormones acknowledged as the ‘feel good’ hormones are epinephrine, serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins. These four hormones control: mood regulation, pleasure sensation, learning ability, memory, pain relief, and sleep (Raypole, 2019). Cortisol on the other hand is a hormone that triggers the fight-or-flight response during times of stress.
The longer you feel stressed, the more cortisol is released into your body. It is important to keep these five hormones in balance with each other. A sign that one, or more, of these hormones are no longer in balance is having feelings of depression, anxiety, fatigue, sudden weight loss, irritability, or difficulty sleeping (Osborn, 2020).
Which hormones impact our muscles and body shape
Most of you already know that estrogen and testosterone are what make our body shape. As stated earlier, men and women produce both hormones, but at different levels. Women primarily produce estrogen creating their physical curvatures as well as fat deposits in the: waist, hips, buttocks, and legs. Men mainly produce testosterone giving them a higher muscle mass and fat deposited primarily in the abdominal region (Erchonia, 2017).
What not many know though, is that human growth hormone has a significant impact on the body’s shape even in adulthood. It is true that HGH stimulates the growth of muscles, but it also aids in the burning of fat making it possible to maintain, or even lose weight. If the sex hormones estrogen or testosterone are off balance it can lead a list of sexual dysfunctions, including a reduction in libido. As for an imbalance in HGH, this can lead to: reduced muscle mass, difficulty losing weight, weight gain, decreased energy, lower bone density, and reduce sex drive in older adults (Utiger, 2021).
Which hormones impact our sexual desire and performance?
Naturally, the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone are the hormones that play a big role in libido, and sexual desire. Along with estrogen, females also produce progesterone and two other sex hormones for sexual functioning, and reproduction. Producing mainly testosterone, men are usually at their height in the morning.
Due to having four hormones that fluctuate every monthly cycle a woman can be at the height of her sexual desire can be at its highest around the time of ovulation, and the lowest at the beginning of the cycle. If a woman is on birth control this can affect natural hormone levels as well as negatively impact libido and sex drive. Lastly, hormone levels for men and women begin to decrease with age after the teenage years. This is especially true for women that after menopause (Morris, 2019) (Pietrangelo, 2019).
Most important hormones for everyday life
The one hormone that has a connection to almost every function in the human body is the human growth hormone. HGH is important for: bone health, metabolism, fat breakdown, muscle growth, and energy level. This is when this hormone is in balance. When not in balance HGH can cause: depressed mood, decreased muscle strength, and weight gain, and effect sexual health in older adults. Of all the hormones produced in the body, HGH is the one connected to most of the body’s functions making it the most important hormone in the body (Utiger, 2021).
How to keep normal hormone levels with age
There are many reasons why your hormones can become unbalanced, but there’s one in particular that can’t be balanced out easily if there is a deficiency. Human growth hormone is likely to become deficient for a list of reasons. Once this hormone is determined to be deficient one of the best ways to regain balance is through HGH therapy. HGH therapy can be a treatment of weekly, or even monthly, injections to normalize your human growth hormone levels.
The results of this therapy is thought to be controversial; however, it has been successfully proven to improve health. HGH therapy improves: bone health, energy levels, mood, cognitive functioning, strength, healing, joint mobility, and immune functioning. This therapy can also improve sexual health after menopause by restoring skin moisture retention and firmness in females (Body Logic MD, 2021).
Bad habits that harm our hormones and health in general
If you’re concerned about having a hormone imbalance, then know that there are ways to avoid and correct them by avoiding a few harmful habits. Not getting enough sleep can be detrimental to your health for a variety of reasons. In regards to hormones, getting less than the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep can reduce the production of the feel good hormones negatively impacting your mood. Allowing your stress to build up is also a dangerous habit to have.
Dealing with stressful events, especially long term, can cause dopamine and serotonin to drop. There will also be a big increase in cortisol leading to even more stress. In time this can lead to a vicious cycle that’s hard to break. Taking some time for yourself to destress from the situation can go a long way in balancing out your hormones (Raypole, 2019).
Lifestyle habits that help to live full and healthy life
If you are still concerned about developing a hormonal imbalance, then know that there are a few good habits you can adopt for a healthier life. The best part is, some of these habits may already be part of your everyday life. Keeping your hormones can be as simple as taking a walk outside in the sunlight. Exposure to direct sunlight for at least ten minutes a day can increase production of your feel good hormones drastically improving your mood.
If you’ve been thinking of adding exercise to your life, then knowing that this also increases the feel good hormones should serve as a motivator. With regular weekly physical activity for roughly half an hour you will see a difference in your overall mood. Lastly, don’t estimate the power of food. For people that like to cook, pay attention to your ingredients. A lot of foods are able to either inhibit or promote the release of the feel good hormones. It all depends on what you use to cook with (Raypole, 2019).