4 Truths About Hormone Balance that Everyone Should Know August 14, 2017
If you are suffering from fatigue, depression, low sex drive, weight gain, or any type of PMS or menopause symptoms, you know that hormone imbalance can turn your world upside down. Feeling better may seem impossible! Your hormones are your body’s most potent chemical messengers, so when they are out of whack, your whole system (and your life!) suffers. Hormones are produced in your endocrine glands and affect you at the level of DNA, directing the cells of each system in your body. Hormone health is at the root of overall health. Take heart! You CAN feel better again. In this issue, we share four top truths about hormone health that you — and everyone — should know. Knowledge is power, and we can help you restore hormone balance so you truly feel good again.
1. Optimizing Your Hormones Heals Your Body at a Cellular Level
One of the absolute best things you can do to begin feeling better is optimize your hormones with the guidance of a knowledgeable clinician. Medical research has proven that when bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) is used to re-establish the body's optimum hormone levels, positive effects happen at a cellular level. Throughout your lifetime, your hormones have you on "remote control," communicating with all the tissues in your body, including your brain, bones, heart, digestive system, gut-brain axis, and more. When hormone production is optimal and your levels are balanced, you feel great, have energy, maintain a healthy weight, desire and enjoy sex, and handle stress well. Recommendations for BHRT must be based on specific criteria, including: age, hormone level changes, and established symptoms. Unlike synthetic pharmaceuticals, using bioidentical formulations will duplicate the physiology of the hormones your body naturally produces, and provide the most effective results — with no side effects! Check out our Hormone Imbalance Questionnaire and call us for an appointment if you need hormone help! If you live out of town and cannot find local hormone expertise, we also offer Personal Hormone Tele-Consultations.
2. Getting More Sleep Helps You Lose Weight
The release of hormones by the pituitary gland (the "master gland" of the endocrine system) is significantly affected by lack of sleep. Researchers have found that after several days of partial sleep loss, early evening cortisol ("stress hormone") levels are much higher, and take six times longer to decrease before bedtime.
There is a domino effect between hormone imbalance, lack of sleep, and the impaired production of "ghrelin" and "leptin," the hormones that work together to regulate your appetite.
After only one day of sleep restriction, studies have found that ghrelin ("hunger") levels are higher, while leptin (“satiety”, or satisfaction/fullness) levels are suppressed. When you are chronically tired, you often feel ravenously hungry because your body is playing tricks on your brain! When you have chronic lack of sleep, it also disrupts glucose and insulin metabolism, leading to a condition called "leptin resistance," when your brain can no longer "read" the signals of fullness from the leptin in your body. This leads you to overeat, since you are unable to recognize when your body feels full. More studies are proving that chronic sleep loss causes weight gain, and there is also evidence that sleep loss weakens the immune system. Believe it or not: 40 percent of American adults get less than seven hours of sleep! If you're having trouble sleeping, make sure to create a calm bedtime routine, keep lights low, avoid stimulants like caffeine, and turn off ALL your electronic devices (TV, phone, computer) at least half an hour before sleep. Go to bed early -- around 9pm or 10pm is ideal -- and aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep. If you are doing all the right things, but still experiencing chronic sleep issues, hormone imbalance is a likely culprit. Get your hormone levels checked to determine the root cause, and consider a melatonin supplement before bedtime, especially if you are over 50 or dealing with adrenal fatigue.
3. Eating Whole Foods Improves Your Gut — And Your Mental Health
The Standard American Diet (SAD) is notoriously deficient in nutrients. The "sad" fact is that most Americans are not getting all the nutrients they need from the foods they eat. Today, the average person eats as much as 22 teaspoons of sugar a day — two or three times the recommended amount! Hormones control our digestion, our moods, our energy, our libido, our metabolism, and more. When we do not eat food with the nutrients our bodies need, we cannot expect our bodies to effectively produce the hormones we need. The best solution is simply to increase the amount of whole foods, especially fruits and vegetables, that you eat. Dr. Randolph personally follows a whole-foods Mediterranean-style approach, but he emphasizes that instead of focusing on a particular "diet" type (such as Vegan or Paleo), focus on eating a variety of "whole foods" and eliminate processed foods as much as possible.
Our whole team believes that eating healthy food is an important act of self-care, a gift that you can give to yourself every day. Every bite of food you put into your body is either making you healthier -- or not!
Most processed foods are literally "designed" in a food science lab to elicit overwhelming biochemical signals compelling us to eat more. These nutrient-poor foods made with synthetic chemicals are cheap to manufacture; they overstimulate our taste buds and alter our hormones in surprisingly widespread ways. It is easy for our bodies to get "dazzled" by the "supernormal stimuli" in processed foods, and our brains get fooled into eating them again and again. Wondering where to begin? Shop the perimeter of the grocery store, where all the fresh foods are located, and skip the interior aisles. Check out websites such as Whole30, and 100 Days of Real Food for recipes and inspiration!
4. Pharmaceutical-Grade Supplements Succeed Where Others Fail
The body works hard to maintain hormonal equilibrium and very often, the right supplements can help to facilitate this process. In our clinical practice, we have tested and observed the beneficial effects of a wide variety of supplements. (The best of these are available in our Wellness Store in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, or online.) We recommend a select group to support healthy hormone balance and promote weight loss. Remember that vitamins and supplements are not regulated by the FDA like food and drugs. Unfortunately, many brands sold in chain health food stores, big box stores, and grocery stores do not contain the ingredients listed on the bottle. Since some vitamins and supplements can be highly effective to support the restoration of hormonal balance, the revitalization of energy, and the normalization of many important bodily functions, we choose to offer only "pharmaceutical-grade" products because they provide our patients and customers with the highest verifiable quality and efficacy. These are Dr. Randolph's criteria for every product we offer:
- Ingredients meet U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) standards. The USP establishes standards for medicines, food ingredients, and dietary supplement products that are used by regulatory agencies and manufacturers to help to ensure that these products are of the appropriate identity, as well as strength, quality, purity, and consistency. Don't settle for anything less!
- Manufacturer should perform extensive in-house testing. This means that they test all raw materials when they arrive for identity and purity, then test again when the finished product is complete. They should also do "stability testing" to ensure that products do not lose efficacy before the expiration date.
- Manufacturer uses a third-party verification system. This means that the manufacturer invites the FDA and third-party auditors to review their manufacturing processes. It is an added layer of security beyond any strict in-house procedures.
- Intended use of product is established in medical literature or current research. Historical use is one thing to consider, but a universally reliable basis for using any ingredient is well-controlled human clinical trials published in peer-reviewed medical journals.
Go to your medicine cabinet and look at the supplements you’re currently taking: are they from a manufacturer you know and trust and made with high-quality ingredients? If so, great! If you’re buying no-name big-box brands, you might be wasting your money. Call our team at the Wellness Store if you have any questions.
Take these truths to heart and get started now! You can be WELL on your way to feeling well again — faster than you might think!