The Power of Your Hormones: The Power of Balance
Hormones have a role in your body as chemical messengers. Like a tightrope walker, they function, optimally, like a balancing act. Hormones help determine your mood, energy level, ability to concentrate, weight and an array of other things. They also help to maintain such bodily functions as temperature, pulse, metabolism, immune function, appetite, and libido, as well as the ability to form memories. Hormones are powerful messengers. They are chemicals that flow through your bloodstream to deliver information from one set of cells to another. They are produced in your endocrine glands and then secreted directly into your circulation. Also, both women and men produce hormones in their reproductive organs. Too few hormones, too many, or an alteration of your hormonal structure can upset your metabolism and cause you to gain weight. Hormones are extremely potent, and very small amounts can upset the balance your system strives for. Your hormones strive to be in harmony in your body. Like a well-tuned orchestra, hormones function best when they are correctly balanced. In an orchestra, if one instrument over-powers or is missing or out of tune, it can throw off an entire performance. Many factors can upset the balance of your hormones. These include: poor diet, stress, food allergies or sensitivities, toxins and the environment. There is an upside to the mystery of your hormonal system. Your body has an elaborate system to maintain hormonal balance. Your brain continually samples different areas of your body to make sure its hormone levels are in the correct range. If your levels are too low, your brain signals a gland to increase production. Likewise, if your levels are too high, your brain sends a message to the appropriate gland to reduce production.
Steroid hormones are important pieces of the metabolism puzzle. It is important to learn about these basic points about hormones. Cortisone, the "fight or flight" hormone, is a stress hormone. Along with adrenalin, its main function is to help us handle emergencies. It does not define whether or not these emergencies are real or imagined. There are two main hormone building blocks, pregnenolone and progesterone. They produce cortisol, and come directly from cholesterol. Even though both men and women have it, testosterone is known as a "male sex hormone". Testosterone helps build strong bones and lean muscle mass, which help create energy and keep weight down. Estrogen, which is known as the "female sex hormone", is also found in both sexes and has over four hundred functions in our bodies. This includes shifts in metabolism, which effect bodyweight. Lastly, DHEA is a hormone that helps to build muscle and bone, and which helps to make insulin work. Both of these functions effect weight.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance produced in our bodies and found in our diets. It is an essential part in cell membranes, bile acids, steroid hormones and the fat-soluable vitamins A, E and K. The typical body produces 100mg of cholesterol a day. Because people tend to fear cholesterol, they often choose to eat a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet. This way of eating usually contains a lot of sugar, to compensate for flavor lost by fat reduction in foods. Due to insulin resistance, much of this sugar ends up being stored as fat. The increase in stored fat causes a release of cholesterol and triglycerides, which are markers for heart disease. So an increase of excess sugar, not excess cholesterol, then causes an increase in blood cholesterol.
Cholesterol serves many important purposes in your body, and is critical for the production of steroid hormones. You may not be making enough hormones if your total cholesterol is too low. Also, if you consistently high cholesterol and your diet and lifestyle are good, it may be a sign of hormone imbalance. Your body might be trying to make enough extra cholesterol to produce hormones.