Did you know that over 80% of women will experience a hormonal imbalance at some point in their lives? If you are a man, you are also not getting away too easy as research shows that 1 in 4 men over the age of 30 has low levels of testosterone.
Hormones rule our entire lives. There are many types of hormones that control our behavior, characteristics, body temperature, and the ability to sleep. They are also responsible for sexual reproduction, digestion, weight loss, metabolism, and growth and development.
Unfortunately, because of the lack of knowledge about hormones, many people do not find out that they have a hormonal imbalance until it’s too late. You must know a bit about the major hormones so that you are more aware of the signs of imbalances.
Thankfully, that is exactly what we will be covering in this article. Keep on reading for a comprehensive guide to the major hormones that rule your body.
What Are Hormones?
Within your body, you have many different systems with different functions such as the cardiovascular system, nervous system, muscular system, and endocrine system.
While the nervous system creates signals by neurotransmitters and nerve impulses, the endocrine system creates signals via chemical messages, which are hormones. The endocrine system is comprised of multiple glands that secrete different hormones, all of which have their own specific function.
Some of the main bodily functions that are controlled by hormones are:
- Heart rate
- Sleeping and waking (melatonin)
- Energy levels
- Sexual drive
- Growth and development
- Hunger and satiation
- Body temperature
- Blood pressure
- Mood balancing and well-being
Now that you understand the functioning of the endocrine system, we will now cover the main types of hormones. While there are many different hormones, there are only a few dominating hormones that, if they become unbalanced, can create havoc within the endocrine system functions.
While many people associate serotonin as the “feel-good” hormone, it also controls much more. Serotonin affects specific functions including:
- Bone health
- Stimulates wound healing
- Controls anxiety
- Reduces depression
- Controls motor functions
- Helps with sleeping and waking
- Bowel functions
- Controls nausea
- Blood clotting
- Sexual Function
- Reduces symptoms of stress
- Creates feelings of happiness, calming, and helps with focus
Serotonin is produced in the digestive system and is formed from the amino acid Tryptophan. In other words, you can only get serotonin from your nutrition, so if you do not optimally nourish your body, you could be lacking in serotonin levels.
If you are low in serotonin levels, you could experience symptoms including nausea, fatigue, depression, cognitive decline, hunger, and poor sleeping habits.
On the other hand, if you have abnormally high levels of serotonin, this could be a sign of a condition called serotonin syndrome. This could be life-threatening if left untreated and is typically caused by medications that cause an influx of serotonin.
Noradrenaline, also known as norepinephrine, is a stress hormone produced in the adrenal glands. Its main function is to provide safety responses like fight or flight. Noradrenaline, adrenaline, and dopamine are all part of the catecholamine family that controls your concentration and mood.
In conjunction with other types of hormones, such as cortisol, adrenocortical hormone, and corticotropin, noradrenaline’s main functions are:
- Increase heart rate
- Improves alertness
- Raises blood sugar levels to produce more energy
- Breaks down fat to produce more energy
- Increases blood pressure
- Memory storage
- Mood and emotional regulation
If noradrenaline levels are low, the symptoms include difficulty concentrating (ADHD symptoms), depression, and low energy. if noradrenaline levels are too high, it could lead to anxiety, panic attacks, or the sensations of euphoria.
Together, both serotonin and noradrenaline can combat mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, motivation, focus, and accomplishing new tasks.
Cortisol is a steroid hormone that helps your body adjust to and regulate stress levels. Cortisol is also known as the stress hormone because the levels of cortisol spike when your body is under physiological or psychological stress.
Cortisol helps the body convert carbohydrates, fats, and proteins into energy as a “fight or flight” defense response to danger. Unfortunately, if you are constantly under stress and not in actual danger, this response can lead to type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance.
If your body is producing too much cortisol, this could develop into Cushing’s disease, which has symptoms including:
- Facial swelling
- High blood pressure
- Weight gain
- Brain fog
With constant stress, your body could eventually stop producing cortisol which leads to adrenal fatigue. This leads to depression, little to no energy, headaches, and weight gain.
If your body is not producing enough cortisol, it could lead to adrenal insufficiency (AI). The symptoms of AI include low blood sugar, painful joints, weight loss, and dizziness.
Melatonin is a hormone that your brain produces in response to darkness, as it plays a primary role in sleep regulation. Its main function is to control your circadian rhythm and help you to have an internal sleeping schedule.
Unfortunately, melatonin production declines as we age, which is why 40% of the older population suffers from insomnia. In addition to that, poor bedtime routines can also affect your body’s ability to produce melatonin. Poor habits such as using electronics with bright lights can affect your brain’s signaling to produce more melatonin, causing you to have a poor night’s sleep.
Melatonin affects more than your ability to sleep, as it can also help with digestion, reduces oxidative stress (antioxidant), improves eyesight, improves cognitive function, and improves cellular function.
A 2004 study discovered that melatonin can also be used to therapeutically treat and prevent certain types of cancers such as breast, colorectal, and prostate cancer. It is also widely used in nursing homes to reduce the sundowning effects in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
There are some natural ways to boost your melatonin, the most important would be taking a melatonin supplement until you can create a normal sleeping pattern.
You can also consume more foods that contain melatonin including:
- Sweet potato
By ensuring your melatonin levels are adequate, you are not only able to sleep better, but you will also improve your heart health, boost immunity, reduce acid reflux, and improve your digestive health.
Learn More About the Different Types of Hormones
It is essential that you understand the different types of hormones so that you can ensure you are living a healthy lifestyle and taking proper care of your body. If you neglect your hormonal health, you could develop conditions such as diabetes, thyroid disorders, Cushing syndrome, and other health problems.
It is important to consult with your physician if you feel you have a hormonal imbalance, or before starting any new health program.To learn more about hormonal health, feel free to contact us with any questions or inquiries.