Hormones work together as key messengers that regulate the entire body's essential functions. Unbalanced hormones, however, often manifest in the body as noticeable symptoms — effects that can be felt in both the short term and long term. So, what are the signs of hormonal imbalance? Let's take a look at the most common symptoms and their possible underlying root causes.
Produced by the endocrine systems, including the thyroid, adrenal and pituitary glands as well as the ovaries and testes, hormones control how the body functions, from digestion, sleep, mood, and reproduction. When there is a hormonal imbalance, the body produces too little or too much of one or more hormones, throwing an innately efficient system out of whack. Even just one hormone — estrogen, cortisol or testosterone, for example — not at its optimal level can have a domino effect, where other organs, glands or systems produce unwanted symptoms.
While natural fluctuations in hormone levels occur throughout our lives as we age, it's important to pay attention when something in our body just doesn't feel right. Estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and cortisol, for example, play critical roles in functions like digestion, reproduction, metabolism, and body temperature. They're also a major factor in regulating stress and sleep cycles. If one or more is out of tune, you'll likely feel the effects.
The following signs may indicate you are experiencing a hormonal imbalance. Keep in mind that since hormones are closely interconnected, each of these symptoms may have more than one potential underlying root cause:
It is important to first understand how hormones may become unbalanced in the first place? Common causes can include persistent stress, poor diet, accumulated toxicity, poor sleep and too much or too little exercise. Taking certain medications, such as birth control, can also affect your hormones.
Some underlying health conditions, even if they can be related to hormone issues, can also lead to further hormonal imbalances. The thyroid, for example, is affected by stress, due to the impact on the adrenal glands and the production of the stress hormone cortisol. The common factor — stress — ends up producing a hormonal knock-on effect in the endocrine system, that can initiate further issues throughout the body.
The food we eat has a direct impact on our hormones, thus incorporating balanced, nutrient dense foods daily that are high in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein and healthy fats, plays an essential role in how we function and feel. When your hormones are in a state of imbalance, your body may have difficulty burning fat as intended. In the presence of estrogen dominance, for example, there is a skewed ratio between two key hormones: estrogen and progesterone, which can lead to symptoms such as weight gain, low mood and low libido.
Balancing your hormones can help your body to efficiently metabolize carbohydrates and support environmental and lifestyle factors that can make it more difficult to maintain a healthy weight. Managing stress, incorporating daily movement and weekly exercise, supporting efficient natural detoxification and ensuring you are getting restful sleep are all key factors that go a long way in promoting optimal hormone balance.
A key step is to identify possible underlying root causes behind the symptoms you are experiencing so that any imbalances can be corrected. You can do this by running a simple at-home lab test to find out your individual hormone levels. Working alongside a certified health coach and using appropriate diet and lifestyle recommendations can help restore nutrient deficiencies and remove accumulated toxicities to rebalance your hormones and support optimal overall function.
Losing weight is not just about eating less and moving more -- if your hormones are out of range, getting to a healthy body weight can be more challenging than it needs to be. Learn more about how to lose weight by balancing key hormones in this podcast.