Hormones and Health

In response to a signal from the brain, hormones are directly secreted into the blood stream by the glands that produce and store them. These glands collectively make up the endocrine system. Hormones in simple terms are chemical messengers that travel throughout the body through blood and coordinate complex functions such as growth, fertility and metabolism. They are closely linked to your immune system, too, and influence behavior as well. Even before birth, they directly affect the development of the brain and the reproductive system.

So to understand their functioning in a nutshell, let’s read through what happens when there is presence of too less or too much of a particular core hormone in your body.

Oestrogen: Oestrogen is the dominant female hormone, which is secreted by the ovaries and is responsible for reproduction, menstruation and menopause. In rare case, this hormone can be generated in excess in your body, and can occur through the use of oral contraceptives. Low oestrogen is an imbalance that can occur as a result of poor diet or even excessive exercise. Pituitary gland disorders can also trigger this imbalance.

Signs to detect this imbalance are acne, hair fall, thinning skin and skin lesions. Excess levels of the hormone can also lead to constipation, depression and musculoskeletal aches, while low levels can lead to osteoporosis.

Testosterone: This dominant male hormone is the main sex hormone in men and women both, and is an anabolic steroid naturally present in the body to help build muscle. Lifestyle affects the production and regulation of this hormone, and experts suggest that eating meat in excess, living a sedentary lifestyle or even excessive smoking and drinking can lead to an imbalance and even andropause or male menopause.

Weight gain, decreased libido, insomnia, depression, poor memory are a few signs of imbalance. Low levels can lead to erectile dysfunction in men and excess hair growth, deepening of voice or acne in women.

Serotonin: Also known as the happy hormone, serotonin regulates mood, sleep, memory, muscular function as well as appetite. An imbalance of this hormone can be attributed to the brain not being able to produce enough of it to balance out the stress levels.

Low levels of this hormone can cause depression. Other signs to watch out for are weight gain, carbohydrate cravings, anxiety attacks and insomnia. Excess levels often cause agitation, decreased libido and confusion.

Cortisol: Cortisol is produced by adrenal glands and is responsible for your energy levels. It regulates physical as well as psychological stress. When your mind is going through a stressful phase, the body automatically responds by boosting cortisol levels for you to cope. While there is a decline soon after, for many people the levels continue to remain high.

If you are facing health issues such as stomach ulcers, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or even fatigue, chances are this hormone level needs to be brought down. Low levels of cortisol can cause chronic fatigue.

Keep your lifestyle and overall health in check and your hormones will thank you!

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