When your hormonal balance is off, you can go through a wide range of intense emotions. It’s not at all uncommon to feel tired, moody, and frustrated. You may also experience physical changes, such as weight gain. What you’re going through is real, and you’re by no means alone.
How Hormones Work
The thyroid gland, among other glands in the body, produce hormones, which control key bodily functions, such as hunger and reproduction. Even a slight hormonal imbalance can lead to many issues involving both your mental and physical health1
Several factors can contribute to hormonal imbalance, both physical factors such as menopause and thyroid issues, and lifestyle factors, such as a lack of exercise, insufficient sleep, and being overweight.
What are the signs of a hormonal imbalance? Here are seven signs to look out for:
1. Anxiety/Mood Issues
This classic symptom is often associated with hormone problems. For women, mood issues may be especially noticeable before menstruation, or during menopause. When estrogen levels fluctuate, emotions can run high. Research also suggests this estrogen drop could prompt cognition problems, like memory loss.2
Studies show other hormones may play a role in contributing to mood-related problems. Researchers in one study found a lack of cortisol can lead to a host of issues. These included a low mood, a lack of energy, and an increased sensitivity to pain signals.3
If you experience any of the above symptoms, it is recommended you consult with your medical professional, as heading off symptoms of an imbalance is key to keeping yourself healthy and happy in the long term.
2. Weight Gain
When you’re stressed, you’re more likely to overeat. And when you’re dealing with hormone issues, you’ll be more susceptible to stress. This vicious cycle is a common consequence of a hormone imbalance. If you have abnormal levels of certain hormones, such as insulin, cortisol, and estrogen, you may find it harder to lose weight.4 A lack of hormones produced by the thyroid gland may also lead to weight gain due to a slowing of the body’s metabolism.5
Hormonal imbalance may also cause hunger pangs.
When you eat a satisfying meal, a hormone known as leptin decreases your appetite. This way, you aren’t as prone to overeating. Another hormone, known as ghrelin, can increase appetite – even if you’ve just eaten. Too much ghrelin could increase your risk of weight gain.6
Green tea extract (featured in ActivatedYou Morning Complete) also lower the risk of weight gain. It inhibits the development of an enzyme that, in turn, inhibits the production of norepinephrine. This hormone sends a signal to fat cells, instructing them to break down fats. This may help reduce the risk of obesity.7
3. Excessive Sweating
Sweating more than usual is another sign of a hormone problem. Hormones help control the temperature of the body. When hormones aren’t balanced, your body temperature can rise, causing excessive sweating.8
Hot flashes are also commonplace in women suffering from hormone problems. Estrogen imbalance can cause a flushed feeling throughout the body, especially in the neck, chest, and face. This may trigger sweating.
According to one study, flaxseed may help reduce hot flashes, and offer other benefits as well. Subjects in the study reported noticeable reduction in hot flashes. They also noted a reduction in muscle and joint pain, and improvements in mood.9
4. Digestive Issues
While you know that stress is bad for you, do you know why? You know that churning sensation you get in your gut when you’re stressed? Hormones have a great deal to do with that feeling.
According to researchers, a hormone imbalance contributes to a disruption of bacteria and other microbes in the gut. Following a healthy diet and taking steps to increase healthy gut bacteria may lessen the stress reactions. 10
Probiotic supplements containing Lactobacillus (such as Advanced Restorative Probiotic) can help reduce the severity of abdominal discomfort.11
5. Sleep Problems and Fatigue
Too much or too little progesterone can make it tougher to fall asleep, and stay asleep.12 Low or elevated levels of progesterone and estrogen are also associated with post-pregnancy mood issues.13
Everyone suffers from fatigue from time to time. But, if you’re tired all the time, that could be a sign of a hormonal imbalance.
If you have hypothyroidism, you have a lack of the hormone thyroxin. This can cause feelings of fatigue on a regular basis.14 Eating more foods that contain selenium may help reduce fatigue. Foods containing selenium include brown rice, Brazil nuts, and pinto beans.15
Of course, as with any health issue, we recommend consulting a medical professional before using diet alone to mitigate hormone issues.
If you tend to have more headaches, particularly during menstruation, hormone fluctuations may be why. Estrogen dominance can increase the chemicals leading to headaches. Stabilizing estrogen levels, according to research, can decrease this estrogen dominance. This may help reduce hormone-related headaches.16, 17
7. Physical Changes
Hormones produced by the pituitary gland affect tissue growth, which could impact your muscle mass, and even the texture of your body tissue.18
A hormonal imbalance can also lead to breasts that are not only sore to the touch but also develop lumps. Most of the time these lumps are harmless, but they should always prompt a visit to the doctor to make sure.
Another problem associated with hormones is the development of acne. Low levels of the hormone androgen can make acne symptoms worse.19
Another physical change associated with a hormone imbalance is known as PCOS, or polycystic ovary syndrome. PCOS results in an increase in the male sex hormone testosterone. This can lead not only to an imbalance, but also the growth of dark hairs on the face and stomach.20
Insulin resistance is one of the root causes of PCOS. Insulin is a substance we use to help make sure our blood sugar levels are safe. But, over time, the glucose in our cells can build to a level where they become resistant to insulin. When this happens, insulin resistance occurs – and that can lead to high blood sugar.
If you notice the signs of a hormonal imbalance, talk to your doctor. They may refer you to a specialist who can perform tests to see if your symptoms are hormone related. If they are, that specialist can then help you come up with a plan of action to address the problem.
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