Hormonal Balance - Why Does It Matter?
Updated: Dec 16, 2022
Everything in moderation, right? That includes your hormones. They must be in balance. With so many environmental factors, prescription medications, and genetics working against that concept, it’s important to know how to rebalance your hormonal system. What are these factors, you ask?
Diet. For one, we have way too much sugar in our foods. Look at the nutrition facts on those pre-packaged foods in the middle of the grocery store. Check out the amount of sugar (including added sugars) in these foods. How about fast food? Do you even know the nutrition facts for the foods you choose? Yeah, that chocolate shake with the burger and fries tastes good, but is it good for you? What happens in your body if you eat too much sugar:
So, the blood sugar levels go up and cause an increase in insulin levels in the body, eventually leading to insulin resistance and metabolic issues. The increase in insulin levels instructs the body to store any excess sugar as fat and fat cells produce estrogen. Fatty deposits form around organs like the liver, which makes the liver less efficient at breaking down estrogen (and other medications, toxins, etc.).
The increased sugar can also cause changes to the microbiome in the gut and cause overgrowth of the wrong kinds of microbes. Some beneficial microbes (called the estrobolome) can break down estrogens and help the body eliminate them, so by changing the gut flora and damaging the liver, more estrogens can find their way back into circulation. Insulin also triggers the body to convert testosterone to estrogen, which keeps increasing estrogen levels. This creates an imbalance with progesterone and leads to ESTROGEN DOMINANCE.
There are also environmental factors, too. Xenoestrogens can be found in makeup, lotions, cleaning supplies, plastic cup lids, new furniture, and even register receipt ink. They mimic natural estrogens and block their receptors. These xenoestrogens can also cause damage to the DNA in the receptor cells and since our body cannot break them down, they get stored in our fat cells. Some of these xenoestrogens include BPA, phthalates, and parabens. Many new products being manufactured recognize the dangers of these xenoestrogens, but they are still out there.
Another cause of estrogen dominance can be linked to genetic factors. These genes can be turned on or off by environmental factors, but some can lead to changes in estrogen levels. One is the MTHFR gene, which I have discussed in a previous article. MTHFR is an important part of our detoxification pathway, which marks the estrogen molecules for destruction. If there are changes in this gene, there is an increased risk for estrogen dominance. COMT is another gene that gives instructions to an enzyme that breaks down neurotransmitters (like epinephrine, dopamine, and norepinephrine). Increases in stress lead to increased levels of epinephrine and norepinephrine, which makes it harder for the enzyme to break down estrogens. Slow COMT enzymes can also contribute to estrogen dominance.
So, estrogen needs to be balanced with progesterone. What if estrogen levels are normal, but progesterone levels are low? How can that happen? A precursor to progesterone is pregnenolone. As you know, we live in a stressful world. The constant stressors we face lead to an increase in cortisol production. Guess what? A precursor to cortisol is…pregnenolone. If resources are being diverted to produce cortisol to deal with stress, those resources are not available to make progesterone. Low progesterone levels also lead to estrogen dominance (even if the estrogen levels are normal).
Low progesterone can lead to insomnia, waking in the middle of the night, infertility and miscarriages (especially in the first trimester), mid-cycle spotting, anxiety and restlessness, as well as mood swings.
Many women, especially in the United States are walking around with an Estrogen Dominance issue. Their estrogen levels are not balanced with progesterone. Why does it matter?
Estrogen dominance can be linked to many health conditions affecting women around the world. Endometriosis, PCOS, fibrocystic breasts, breast cancer, blood clot disorders, PMS, PMDD, chronic migraine headaches, gallbladder issues (like gallstones), autoimmune diseases, and low libido are just a few that are linked to estrogen dominance.
Stay tuned for what you can do about it...
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