Hormones are chemicals that are produced by glands in the endocrine system. They travel through the bloodstream to tissues and organs, telling them what to do. Hormones help control many of your body’s major processes, including metabolism and reproduction. When there is an imbalance of hormones, there may be too much or too little of a hormone in the bloodstream. Even the smallest imbalance can cause side effects throughout the entire body.
Hormone levels will normally fluctuate throughout your lifetime and may be the result of natural aging. Other changes may occur, however, when your endocrine glands are not working properly to produce the hormones. Men and women can be affected by imbalances in insulin, steroids, growth hormones, and adrenaline. Women may also experience an imbalance in estrogen and progesterone levels, while men may experience imbalances in testosterone.
Many things can throw your endocrine system for a loop and disrupt the hormone balance and function. Identifying and correcting the cause of a hormone imbalance early will help maintain your health and prevent the onset of chronic disease. Here are some of the most common signs or symptoms of hormonal conditions affecting both men and women:
- unexplained weight gain or loss
- unexplained or excessive sweating
- difficulty sleeping
- changes in sensitivity to cold and heat
- changes in heart rate
- irritability and anxiety
- unexplained and long-term fatigue
If you think that you may have a hormonal imbalance, you should consult with a healthcare professional about your symptoms and potential underlying causes. While there is no single test available to diagnose a hormone imbalance, doctors can narrow down the cause based on the symptoms and timeline you present.
While working with a healthcare professional can help resolve the underlying cause of a hormonal imbalance, there are some steps you can take to balance your hormones naturally on your own.
- Get enough sleep – Sleep may be one of the most important factors for hormonal balance. Adverse effects of sleep disturbances on hormones can contribute to obesity and diabetes.
- Manage stress – There have been many studies that link stress, the endocrine system, and hormone levels. Stress can lead to an increase in adrenaline and cortisol which may disrupt the overall balance of hormones and contribute to obesity, changes in mood, and even cardiovascular issues.
- Avoid sugar – Sugar plays a big role in issues such as metabolic disease and insulin resistance. By eliminating sugar from your diet, you are better able to keep levels of hormones in check.
- Exercise – A major benefit of exercise is its ability to reduce insulin levels and increase insulin sensitivity. Many different types of exercise have been found to have this effect, such as aerobic, strength training, and endurance exercise.
- Avoid too much light at night – Exposure to blue light at night can confuse the body, causing it to suppress the hormone melatonin, which can negatively affect many different functions. By avoiding artificial lights as much as possible, you can help regulate hormones and restore a natural circadian rhythm.
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