Each part of your body- from your brain to your skin, your heart, your kidneys, and your muscles has a specific job. They take directions from your endocrine system to get the work done.Hormones are vital to your health and well.
In this blog, we talk about the importance of health and hormones and we are going to uncover some facts that you may not know - especially the details about how they help you stay fit! Read on to know more…
What are hormones? Why are they important?
Hormones are your body’s chemical messenger. They are also known as the communication network made up of special glands to help them do their work. They work slowly and control many functions and processes, including bone density, sleep cycles, appetite, heart function, growth and reproduction, mood, metabolism, temperature control, fluid balance, blood sugar control, and more.
Hormones are important and required in a certain percentage but if there is an excess or deficiency in specific hormones, it can have a significant impact on an individual's normal daily functioning. For example, insulin deficiency leads to a decrease in the body's ability to synthesize and utilize the blood glucose absorbed from food, giving rise to diabetes and its associated complications.
Another issue is that excessive growth hormone can lead to acromegaly and gigantism or excessive height. Several other hormones such as thyroid hormones, cortisol, and insulin are also vital in growth and development.
Here are some examples of how your hormones influence your health – sometimes in surprising ways.
How do hormones affect sleep?
Sleep is an important requirement for the body to function properly.
Melatonin is a hormone that’s produced in your body that drives this function. The levels of Melatonin vary throughout the course of a day and are controlled by your body clock. Normally, the production ramps up at night, helping you slip into a slumber, and there is an automatic dial down in bright light, helping you to wake up. If you feel sluggish in the morning, step outside for a walk in the sunshine or flood your bedroom with natural light.
Do hormones adjust to changes in your body?
Many endocrinologists compare hormones to a thermostat on a heater that helps in altering heat production according to the temperature sensed. This simply refers to the fact that hormones have an inbuilt ‘feedback mechanism’. When any changes are noticed a message is triggered and sent back to the hormone-producing gland resulting in adjustments in its production levels.
How does fat influence hormones?
As amazing as the human body is, there are certain things that it needs, in order for it to function seamlessly. The female body needs a certain amount of body fat to be able to ovulate, menstruate, and get pregnant. If the fat levels are too low then all the above functions can stop. On the flip side, if the body fat levels are too high, the hormones, estrogen and oestrogen produced are high as well and this can increase the risk of hormone-related cancers such as breast cancer, etc.
The best way to keep the hormones in check is if you’re overweight, losing a few kilos may benefit your hormones levels and your body and the opposite applies for those who are underweight.
How can hormones affect your appetite?
Healthy eating is something everyone should follow but that being said we usually do give into cravings and there is a science behind it.
If you have battled with the urge to eat constantly when you know that you have had enough, the hormone cholecystokinin may have been responsible. This hormone is produced in the small intestine 20-30 minutes after a meal and once triggered, tells you it's time to stop eating. The trick to rein in over-eating would be to eat slowly as most of the health experts say.
After 4-5 hours of eating, a hormone called ghrelin is produced by the stomach to stimulate hunger and send you a message reminding you to eat again.
The important aspect here is to not ignore your hormones and skip meals. This kind of behaviour will lead to you craving higher in kilojoules later. The idea is to listen to what your body says and choose something to eat that is healthy and satisfying.
Estrogen and bone health, how are they linked?
According to experts in the field, it is proven that the hormone estrogen is essential for healthy bones. When the estrogen levels in the body decrease, such as in the case of menopause in older women, the bones are at a much higher risk of becoming brittle and breaking – this condition is known as osteoporosis.
One should check and maintain the health of your bones. Based on this, your doctor may suggest a bone density scan or recommend lifestyle changes, such as increasing the regularity of weight-bearing exercise (fast walking, skipping, tennis, aerobics and resistance training) and improving your diet.
How does testosterone aid both men and women?
There is a preconceived notion that testosterone is a male-only hormone, but this is not true. Testosterone plays a role in both men’s and women’s health. Testosterone is important for bone density, muscle mass, strength, and libido.
In men, it’s responsible for male sex organ development and characteristics such as facial and body hair, increased body size, and voice deepening. For women, testosterone plays a part in the female sex drive, energy, and motivation.
Other effects of hormones on bodily functions can include:
- Maintaining salt and water balance
- Mood swings and cognitive functions
- Regulation of metabolic pathways by thyroxine, insulin, and cortisol. These hormones aid the absorption and utilization of various nutrients in the body.
- Controlling programmed cell death or apoptosis.
For good health, we need our hormones to be produced in exact amounts required by the body. Too little or too much or inappropriate production of hormones will stop the body from functioning as well as it should, showing signs of imbalance.
To keep your hormones and health in check, experts recommend a healthy diet, regular exercise, and getting a good amount of sleep each night. If you’re feeling rundown, or have any ongoing medical issues, do not ignore the signs. Talk to your medical expert about your hormone health and ensure you correct imbalances to achieve better health for yourself.
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