Stress and Hormone Balance
Some of the hormones involved in adapting to stress are adrenaline, cortisol and DHA. Most people have heard of the “flight or fight” response to stressors and how this affects the body. Hormones are released in response to stressful situations or states of stress. Stress can cause your hormonal system to go haywire. This happens because when you are constantly under stress, you are literally wearing your body out! Prolonged stress is associated with speeding up the aging process, with a number of the diseases of digestion, and with hormone balance. A very profound statement is, “Any body system that is overstimulated will eventually malfunction.”
If you are living off of coffee, a high-sugar diet, or stress itself, you increase your risk of upsetting your thyroid balance ( which means you’re likely to gain weight) or calcium balance (resulting in arthritis) or of getting problems associated with sex-hormone imbalances and excessive cortisol. These are the long-term side effects of being stressed out all of the time. One way to reduce your stress levels is to reduce your intake of sugar and stimulants. The more dependent on stimulants you are, the more your blood sugar levels will fluctuate, with low blood sugar levels triggering the release of adrenal hormones. This means that just having a sugary diet and unbalanced blood sugar levels can put your body into the stress-response mode. Everyday stress plus coffee, and a high sugar diet is a recipe for ruining your hormonal system.
If your periods are either absent of irregular and you’re not in menopause or pregnant, it is worth checking out the cause. Absent or irregular periods are associated with low weight, strenuous exercise, anorexia nervosia, taking the contraceptive pill, or extreme stress. Extreme stress can lead to either missed periods or more frequent periods. (Follow the dietary recommendations given in this article).
Stress and Estrogen Dominance
The hormones that regulate your menstrual cycle estrogen and progesterone can be skewed by stress. The balance between estrogen and progesterone is critical. Stress can interfere with your ability to ovulate, thereby blocking progesterone function and pushing further into estrogen dominance. If a woman does not ovulate, no progesterone is produced during that cycle. This is because progesterone is produced in the sac that contains the ovum, once the ovum is released. If no progesterone is produced there is relative estrogen dominance. Estrogen dominance is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, fibroids, ovarian cysts, endometriosis and PMS.
Learn about how the pill eliminates ovulation at about.com under "Withdrawl bleeding."
Diet Tips for Hormonal Health:
• Keep animal fats very low in your diet.
• Choose organic vegetables and meat whenever possible to reduce pesticide and hormone exposure.
• Don’t eat fatty foods wrapped in PVC cling film.
• Use stimulants such as coffee, tea, chocolate, and sugar only on occasion, if at all. If you’re addicted to any of these, break the habit.
• Do not let stress become a habit in your life. Identify sources of stress and make some positive changes to your circumstances and the way you react to them.
• Make sure you’re getting enough essential fats from seeds, their oils, or supplements of evening primrose, borage or flax oil.
• Make sure your supplement program includes optimal levels of vitamins B3, and B6, biotin, magnesium and zinc. (see Wellness Resources Vitamins link on this page for a good quality multi-vitamin)
• If you have PMS or menopausal symptoms, consider taking a hormone –friendly supplement containing extra vitamins B3, B6, and C, and biotin, magnesium, and zinc, and/or the herbs agnus castus, dong quai, black cohosh, and St. John’s Wart.
• Natural Progesterone is available on prescription should a saliva test reveal a need for supplementation.
Balance Your Hormones Naturally by Kate Neil and Patrick Holford
The New Optimum Nutrition Bible by Patrick Holford
Dr. Susan Lark’s Hormone Revolution by Susan M. Lark, MD
The article presented here is for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended as medical advice. This information has not been approved by the FDA and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure any disease whether mental or physical. Please see a licensed health care practitioner for medical concerns. If you have medical concerns, you may consult your doctor before beginning a supplement program.