How to Age Gracefully: A Lesson on Hormones

We’ve all got ‘em, and they’re a super important part of health and wellness.

Yep, your hormones are coursing through your body, put there to regulate all of its functions.

Think of the various hormones like keys. These keys only fit into certain “locks,” or organs, to ensure their proper function.

For example, as the pancreas secretes the insulin hormone, it moves through the bloodstream and its “key” fits into a muscle cell’s receptors. This action unlocks the muscle, so that glucose can exit the muscle, travel over to the liver and provide energy.

However, if you’re like most women, your hormones, or endocrine system, is way out of whack.

If your body’s unbalanced, you’ll feel the effects. Stress on the body, from too much on your to do list, lack of sleep, to a lack of nutrients, not enough physical activity, and health issues puts it out of homeostasis. Homeostasis is when you  body is in complete balance, you are calm, energized, cope well and fight illness and disease like a champion,

Your body is desperate for balance, and its 50 or so hormones are designed to function so that you reach homeostasis.

Here’s how some of the hormones work when your body is balanced, along with a few tips for reaching homeostasis.

Cortisol

This is the stress hormone that would give our ancestors a surge of energy, through increasing blood sugar, in fight-or-flight situations. Today we produce a lot of cortisol. In fact, most of our bodies are in a constant state of stress and cortisol production. Having your cortisol “on” all the time causes blood sugar to be constantly elevated in the fight-or-flight response, and since we are neither fleeing or flighting (and thus burning that sugar up for energy) that sugar ends up getting stored as fat, unfortunately, around our midlines! Stress is everywhere, and the constant production of cortisol creates a vicious cycle of poor sleep, lack of energy, a suppressed immune system and internal inflammation. You can break this cycle  with good nutrition, adequate sleep, exposure to nature, moderate activity, which will help you lose belly fat and restore your cortisol balance. 

Dopamine

Our bodies love this feel-good hormone! In fact, it makes us feel so good that we can become addicted to it! That’s one way that you can get caught in a cycle of eating for comfort, because this hormone sends your brain a signal, which you’ll eventually associate with the food, and you’ll feel good. You can only stop this cycle by creating new neural pathways, swapping out foods you eat when stressed for healthier options.

Ghrelin

This hormone tells your brain when your body needs nutrients. The combination of dopamine and ghrelin is a recipe for disaster. By feeding your hunger with a milkshake, you’ll start to crave these bad foods when ghrelin signals your body that it’s ready for food  –  instead of giving your body the nutrients it needs to satiate hunger. The only way to quiet the ghrelin in your body is to fill it with nutrients and help it make new associations with foods that promote optimal wellness –  not nutrient-poor junk.

Growth hormone

The pituitary gland produces the human growth hormone, or HGH, which is designed to stimulate cell growth and regeneration, repair your skin, and metabolize fat. So, this is a great hormone to have in your body; however, as you age and engage in certain bad habits, your HGH level will decrease. HGH is generated while you sleep, so if you’re sleep deprived  –  you guessed it  –  your body’s HGH levels go down. Engaging in lots of medium-intensity, medium-duration exercise also decreases HGH. So instead of walking for 45 minutes on the treadmill, vary your intensity levels and the length of time you exercise.

With the right knowledge about how your body’s hormones work, you can ensure that it’s in balance. So don’t hate on your hormones. They’re designed to do great things!

For more great tips about your body’s natural functions and how you can reach homeostasis (or balance), visit The Well Path today!