Friday, September 14, 2012

Crazy Hormones?

We often joke about it being “that time of the month” so we have to be lazy or put up with symptoms such as bloating, pain, an headaches. Or we get out of gym class because we have cramps. Have you ever wondered if this is normal? It is certainly common, but it is actually not normal, nor do we have to experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

Hormones are the second great controlling system of the body, the first being the nervous system, and it coordinates and directs activity of the body’s cells. Where the nervous system’s speed of control is fast, and immediate via nerve impulses, the endocrine system is slow, widespread and non-immediate via hormones.

Although great, hormones in general control only some processes such as metabolism, growth and development, body defenses, and reproduction.

Two hormones the ovaries produce are estrogen and progesterone.
Estrogen dominance, or having excess estrogen in our bodies may have several different causes. One reason we may have higher estrogen is that during peri-menopause progesterone levels drop. Another is that we are often exposed to xenoestrogen from plastic, pollution in the water from man-made chemicals such as dioxins, paints, herbicides, and pesticides to name a few. Xenoestrogen’s affect estrogen levels in two ways, they may either stimulate estrogen production or they may fit in to estrogen receptors and stimulate the body to produce more estrogen. It is important to note that xenoestrogen’s also affect men, who are exposed in the same manner. Estrogen is found in meats from animals given estrogen and from dairy products and eggs where estrogen was given to the animals to fatten them.
Other causes include taking birth control, increased body fat increase levels, and an overloaded liver.

There are several ways through diet, exercise and stress reduction that we can help our hormones and relieve ourselves of the common, but not so normal, PMS symptoms we are all too familiar with. 

Eating fresh foods, and ideally organic whenever possible, and avoiding processed low nutrient foods is the key. Even following the 80/20 rule will certainly be a helpful tool (80% of your diet/meals should consist of legumes, whole grains, fresh veggies, nuts, seeds, and fruits). A plant based diet, regardless of whether you are a vegetarian, is high in fiber helping to clean out excess estrogen. Lots of clean water, 6-8 glasses, will also assist in cleansing your system of excess waste.

Exercising daily, even a short walk, will release endorphins and invigorate your system to keep blood flow and boosts your mood.

Lastly, supplements and herbs, such as Calcium, Magnesium, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B complex and Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) can be helpful in addition to a whole foods diet.

Now, no more crazy hormones or excuses for feeling less than great!

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