Put simply our hormones are made from cholesterol within our bodies. The cascade of hormone production can sway from cortisol production to sex hormone production depending on our stress, diet, and toxic load (more on this in part 2). Cortisol production happens to be the mac daddy, and essentially gets first dibs on the available cholesterol, so when stress is ramped up, we may lose out on the production of some of our sex hormones like testosterone or estrogen. That does’t sound good… as it impacts periods, menopause, depression, thyroid function, fertility, and obesity to name a few.
As our bodies continually engage in this dance of keeping our hormones balanced and within optimal ranges we can experience mood changes, lack of energy, and undesirable symptoms that ultimately give us clues into what is going on with our endocrine, digestive, and nervous systems. Just as our hormones work together to find balance, these systems (endocrine, digestive and nervous) work together to achieve internal harmony, and to isolate one as an individual system working independently does not provide justice for the complexity and beauty of our bodies and the intricate and interconnectedness of how they function. Treating the WHOLE person or whole body embraces the idea that our bodies are one united system working together for our own good.
The derailment for optimal sex hormone production occurs with:
Stress: Our body produces cortisol to manage the stress response, which robs from our sex hormones. Stress reduction and meditation are key interventions that can make a big impact.
Genetic variations: Genetic SNP’s or alterations at specific DNA locations can slow or speed up ones ability to produce or metabolism certain hormones. The important thing to remember here is that we can turn on or off gene activity through diet and lifestyle choices.
Diet: Healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals are key in igniting preferred pathways in the endocrine cascade. Incorporating healthy fats into the diet, along with consuming nutrient dense foods like vegetables, fruits, and red meats can help ensure proper nutrients.
Dysbiosis: Gut issues and digestive complaints can be related to leaky gut or undigested food, and therefor unused nutrients, which results in slowed or compromised endocrine function. Eliminating food sensitivities or allergens is important as they increase inflammation and digestive complaints.
In part 2 we will dive deeper into foods and tips for minimizing the toxic load.