I love learning as much about the human body without actually becoming a doctor. I go to seminars, workshops, and lectures. I recently attended a full weekend workshop on the endocrine system. Endocrine is a fancy word for the glands that make hormones. Hormones are the body’s chemical messengers that carry keys to help unlock the next process. They help control nearly every physiological process in the body.
And what I learned was that most of the endocrine problems out there are not from hormone deficiency. Most of them are due to impaired hormone transformation and clearance, disruptions and feedback loops.
What it comes down to is a lot of inflammation gunking up the system.
Manage your blood sugar. Increase your oxygen (this one will surprise you). And we need to go inflammation hunting and let the body do what it naturally wants to do.
BLOOD SUGAR REGULATION
The human body wants blood glucose (blood sugar) maintained in a very narrow range. Insulin and glucagon are the hormones that make this happen. Both insulin and glucagon are secreted from the pancreas and thus are referred to as pancreatic endocrine hormones.
Our cells need oxygen to work properly. So how do we get them what they need: breathing and proper circulation! Exercise can have a big effect on your blood sugar levels because blood sugar is used for energy. When you use your muscles, your cells absorb sugar from the blood for energy.
Depending on the intensity or duration of exercise, physical activity can help lower your blood sugar for many hours after you stop moving. If you exercise regularly, the cells in your body may be more sensitive to insulin. This will help keep blood sugar levels within normal ranges.
People wake up from their sleep at night because of either oxygen or blood sugar issues. This triggers elevated cortisol and an inflammation response. The domino effect is big and long-lasting. A ridiculous amount of people aren’t sleeping well because of sleep apnea. And a lot are sleeping because they’re stressed out or have sugar imbalances. If you think you or your partner has sleep apnea, go get a sleep test and figure that out!
And if you’re not moving around, you’re not taking in increased oxygen levels or circulating the blood in your body to its fullest. Some obvious signs are cold hands and cold feet.
Your omega-3 and omega-6 levels should be close to 1:1. The Standard American Diet is 1:20 or worse because of the high levels of industrial seed oils we eat (corn, soy, canola, etc.) and plenty of meat.
Omega-3s are needed for hormonal balance because they are used in hormone production and function. Because your body needs these important building blocks to prevent hormone conditions, research is finding that supplementation with omega-3 is effective in the prevention and treatment of hormone-related disease, especially in women.
Additionally, omega-3s are very effective against inflammation, which often accompanies hormone-related conditions. Omega-3s are powerful anti-inflammatory agents, so much so they have even been found to be more effective than NSAIDs in pain treatment of arthritis.
The three most common hormonal related conditions that benefit from omega-3 supplementation include:
Menopause symptoms – Omega-3s supply the necessary building blocks for hormone production and function, which helps reduce frustrating menopause symptoms. Research has found omega-3s help with hot flashes and post-menopausal depression.
Thyroid dysfunction – Since most hypothyroidism is actually caused by the autoimmune condition, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, inflammation is usually a contributing factor. Omega-3s are very effective in fighting autoimmune disease-related inflammation. Studies have found that patients with autoimmune disease who supplement with omega-3s experience decreased disease activity, a reduced need for anti-inflammatory drugs, and significant benefits overall.
Adrenal deficiency – Most women with adrenal problems are highly inflamed, which fish oils help alleviate. Research also shows that EPA can help regulate the dysfunction of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and restore homeostasis. Though we could use more studies on the specific effects of omega-3s on adrenal deficiency, these two mechanisms are promising.
DETOX THE LIVER
Your liver is like Amazon.com. Your brain orders something and your liver delivers it. But if it’s busy filtering out a bunch of other junk, it gets backlogged. It’s vital for a healthy working system to have a working, healthy liver. Drinking lots of water, detoxifying teas and avoiding heavy metals are good for you. Talk to your doctor about how to better take care of your liver.
GET A GOOD GUT
And 9 times out of 10, when we do the careful detective work to find the real root cause behind hormone imbalance, it’s actually related to gut health.
The gut and our hormones are meant to be in communication. They support each other and work together to make our bodies run smoothly. In fact, our intestinal cells have special receptors for hormones that allow them to detect hormonal shifts.
It’s intuitive that our hormones and gut interact, too – even women with symptom-free periods will report noticing slight changes in their bowel patterns before and during their menstrual cycle.
As a side note: no one works harder than American women. We’re dealing with chronic stress and tension, working, caretaking—all of this wipes the adrenal glands. Ladies are in a thyroid epidemic right now.
NET-NET HOW IT ALL WORKS:
- Blood glucose levels need to be kept in a very narrow “safe” range for our bodies to function correctly
- Hormones glucagon and insulin regulate blood sugar levels
- Glucagon is produced by the pancreas and stimulates glucose to be released from glycogen in the liver
- Insulin is produced by the pancreas and allows cells to absorb glucose from the bloodstream