You’ve probably heard this statement countless times: “Blame it on the hormones.” For many years, you considered your hormones as the main suspect for your mood swings, incessant food cravings, and the reason why you act up during your period. However, the question is, do you really understand why your hormones make you act that way?
Some women are able to deal with their hormones as if it’s simply a walk in the park. Sadly for many, though, their hormonal fluctuations mean they have to shout at whoever’s driving in front of them and blocking their way, or crying for no reason.
If you are one of these poor women, don’t worry. The bad news is, hormones have a nasty way of messing with your body. However, the good news is, you can do many things, just in case your hormones really do go berserk.
Here’s a closer look on how hormones wage war with your body, plus some helpful tips on how to deal with them effectively. Claim your sanity, ladies.
Hormone Horror No. 1: Cortisol
If you haven’t heard of cortisol, then maybe you haven’t been stressed out at any time in your whole life, which is good, by the way.
Triggered by your brain’s hypothalamus, cortisol is a stress hormone that shoots right into your bloodstream every time something goes wrong inside your body.
As a result, your heartbeat quickens and your brain takes in extra oxygen. This steals away your energy from your body’s fat and glucose stores. All of this happens when you put yourself under too much stress.
What You Can Do: Cardio or weight training can be your best friend for reducing the amount of cortisol in your body. Try to alternate jogging and sprinting for 60 seconds each. You can also lift weights and do the kind of weight training that tones your arms. However, make sure to keep your workouts short and sweaty. As much as possible, stick to less than 40 minutes of exercise, otherwise, the cortisol level may actually rise again.
Hormone Horror No. 2: Melatonin
Apparently, sleeping is not confined to lying down on your bed and closing your eyes. You need a sleep-promoting hormone in the form of melatonin to help you doze off.
It peaks during the wee hours in the morning and needs complete darkness to work, which explains why you get to sleep like a baby at night.
Did you know that low melatonin levels are linked to obesity, cancer and diabetes? It turns out that real or artificial lights can affect your melatonin production, which can spell bad news. Melatonin counteracts stress and changes its role from being a sleep-inducing hormone to a free radical busting antioxidant.
What You Can Do: Keep your room dark, at least during the nighttime. Get rid of any light-emitting devices, including mobile phones and tablets. If you have extra cash, invest on blackout curtains. If you are on a tight budget, wearing an eye mask will do just fine, instead. At the same time, make sure to wear comfortable clothes, since tight clothing is known to curb melatonin production.
Hormone Horror No. 3: Oxytocin
Have you heard of the love hormone? Believe it or not, your brain releases a love hormone called oxytocin every time you touch someone. When in the right state, oxytocin can boost your sex drive, lower your blood pressure, get rid of back stress and heighten your feelings of trust.
What You Can Do: As a love hormone, one effective way to boost this is to snuggle. There is something about simple human touch that can make you forget why you’re angry, anxious or sad. Aside from this, do you know the best way to release this hormone? Yes, have sex. It turns out that oxytocin are at its peak during and after the orgasmic release.
Hormone Horror No. 4: Thyroid Gland Hormones
First, let’s get down to basics. Thyroid gland is important because it regulates your body’s metabolism and energy levels.
At the same time, the hormones released by this part of your body acts as an internal thermostat. Unfortunately, not many people realize the importance of the thyroid gland hormones and often take them for granted.
When you don’t take care of your body by putting it under too much stress, or when you don’t eat in a healthy, nutritional way, the thyroid gland hormones, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), will go out of this world. As a result, you feel constipated and tired. In addition, you may always feel cold, to the point that you can’t leave home without putting a jacket or sweater on first.
What You Can Do: Eat healthy and stay away from stress as much as you possibly can. Also, environmental toxins, such as BPA, which is commonly found in plastic products, are known to disrupt thyroid function. To avoid this, check out plastic products before buying anything. Further, take note of what you eat. Heavy metals, such as mercury from fish, can result in a thyroid imbalance.
Hormone Horror No. 5: Female Hormones
If you think the first four hormones are crucial, wait until you read about female hormones, estrogen and progesterone. Apparently, these two have a seesaw relationship. When one goes up, the production of the other goes down.
If you are not careful, meaning you eat a lot of chocolate, no thanks to a recent breakup, or you’re under a lot of stress, you may experience an imbalance. Be careful not to continuously expose yourself to toxic chemicals, or you can expect these two hormones to act up, as well.
If you think you’ve had enough hormonal imbalances during your reproductive years, there are still stages called perimenopause and menopause. Where does this leave you? Lower sex drive, migraines, depression, irritability, extreme PMS and worse, making you at risk of reproductive disorders.
What You Can Do: Yes, the menopausal stage is normal, since all women will go through it in their lifetimes. However, don’t let hormonal imbalances take over your body – and moods. When it comes to fickle-minded estrogen and progesterone, the best things you can do are to maintain a healthy weight and eat nutritious meals. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are your best bet in regulating estrogen.
Aside from this, increase your omega-3 fatty acids and calcium intake. Exercise as much as you can, so you will be able to handle stress in a healthier way. Of course, get rid of sweets and processed food. They are all junk and will do nothing for your body.
Hormone Horror No. 6: Testosterone
Yes ladies, you’ve got testosterone, too, although not as dominant as in men. Even if it’s just 10 percent, testosterone helps pump up your libido, promotes muscle strength and bone density, and works well with your metabolism.
When you have too much T, you might experience acne, facial hair and other manly characteristics. On the other hand, too little of this hormone can make you feel depressed, sluggish and not in the mood for sex.
What You Can Do: The truth is, the men in white are still looking for ways to keep your testosterone at a healthy level. In the meantime, oral contraceptives can help boost estrogen and progesterone. This can also help address excessive hair issues. However, it is best to consult an ob-gyn for help, since too much testosterone can also be an indicator that you have a condition like polycystic ovarian syndrome.
Hormone Horror No. 7: Hunger Hormones
There are two types of hunger hormones: leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is a satiety hormone that is secreted by your fat cells and tells your brain you’re already full and it’s time to stop eating. In other words, it suppresses hunger.
On the other hand, ghrelin is the hunger hormone. Your stomach and pancreas produces this type of hormone and sends a message to your brain that you need food in your belly. Although there is a happy partnership between the two, too much sugar and lack of sleep signals the ghrelin to take over, making you eat even more.
What You Can Do: Get some sleep. An adequate amount of sleep will keep the ghrelin hormones at bay and make sure that they only take action only when needed. Also, reduce the amount of refined sugar you take. According to the American Heart Association, women are only allowed to have up to six teaspoons a day. If you are taking more than six, then you know what to do.
Hormone Horror No. 8: Serotonin
Did you know that serotonin is a feel-good hormone? Produced in the gut, this hormone is partly responsible for mood and memory. At the same time, it helps control your ability to multitask.
How can you reduce your serotonin levels? Depression is one. Also, getting rid of carbs in your diet, or if you often have an obsessive behavior, such as getting stuck in one idea, then serotonin levels will also be affected.
What You Can Do: Your body needs carbs to produce serotonin. If you want this feel-good hormone to take over your body, then at least make an effort to include carbs in your diet. At the same time, add yogurt and banana in your diet. Aside from the good bacteria, these two contains an amino acid called tryptophan, which is needed in making serotonin.
The next time your hormones decide to act up on you and give you an attitude, you know what do. Remember, you are stronger than they are, here are ways they won’t take over you.