Hormones are produced in our bodies by various glands, and they have various functions — all of which are important to our health and well-being. When these glands malfunction or start to slow down with age and disease, the delicate balance of hormones is upset — leading to some serious health complications and challenges.
Medical personnel have been prescribing chemical hormone supplements for years as one way to combat the loss of essential hormones. While this is certainly a legitimate response to hormone imbalance, it may not be the best way to handle it in all cases. Chemical hormone supplements can have undesirable side effects, such as unwanted hair growth, gastric upset, insomnia, and muscle cramps.
Medical and nutritional science have teamed up recently to investigate the healing properties of diet and other natural, organic ways to handle hormone imbalance. Here are some of the most contemporary results:
This hormone is pretty well known, even by lay people, as the . It is essential for normal sexual functions in males and provides stimulus for bone and muscle growth in adolescents. Lack of testosterone in men can lead to erectile dysfunction, loss of athletic stamina, and is a precursor to adult onset diabetes and scoliosis.
According to the Journal of Medical Statistics, recent studies have found that certain foods can boost testosterone naturally without the use of supplements. They include pomegranates, tuna fish, non-GMO beef and pork, and the spices oregano and turmeric. If you’re a man and are feeling too run down after a bout of exercise, check with your medical professional to see if you could benefit from adding these foods to your diet.
Estrogen is essential for breast development in women, and helps maintain bone density in both sexes. It is seriously depleted in women who stay constantly underweight. Anorexic women are especially prone to estrogen depletion, and may suffer from osteoporosis at an early age, as well as dental caries. Dairy products and non-GMO whole grains are a good source of estrogen, as is cabbage and brussel sprouts.
This is the Jekyll and Hyde hormone. When it’s at regular levels it provides a feeling of well-being and increases the serotonin levels in our brain. But when we receive a sudden shock or perceive a threat our adrenaline output increases substantially, so we can either fight or take flight. Some competitive athletes have unwisely taken drugs that stimulate a constantly higher output of adrenaline — this has boosted their athletic prowess, but the cost has been irregular heartbeat and joint calcification.
A mildly caffeinated drink, such as a can of Mountain Dew cut with a can of plain soda water, can boost adrenaline for up to three hours at a time when you’re feeling a bit unfocused and sluggish.
Cortisol is the hormone most directly involved with maintaining healthy blood pressure levels. Too much of it will suppress blood pressure, depriving the body of much needed nutrients and oxygen, and too little of it will allow blood pressure to skyrocket to dangerous levels.
Dr. Macey Eldretch, a geriatric specialist at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, says “One of the easiest ways to insure constant cortisol levels is to include some capsicum in your diet. That means using chili peppers in your meals, or putting a few shakes of hot sauce on your eggs and meat.”
Photo by Evil Erin