Hormones – once relegated to discussions about ‘becoming a woman’, or during pregnancy, or when one goes through ‘The Change’. But recent research has uncovered that our hormones are so much more than that, and that hormonal imbalances can affect us in a number of ways. Most of which we’d never expect!
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Our hormones can actually affect everything from our skin and hair, to our weight and our sleep, but it can be hard to pinpoint whether or not your hormones are actually the cause. And once you do figure it out, it’s even harder to know how to fix it (or if you even can!).
We spoke to Dr Libby Weaver, nutritional biochemist and author of The Beauty Guide: Your Body, Biochemistry and Beliefs, to find out how our hormones can impact our health and the tell-tale signs that you’re experiencing a hormonal imbalance.
Q: What should all women know about their hormones?
Dr Libby:“There are over 50 different hormones, all working in harmony (or not!) to influence how we look, feel and experience each day. What many people don’t realise is that our hormones aren’t supposed to make us suffer! When someone says “Oh, it’s my hormones”, usually they’re not referring to something positive. But our hormones are actually wonderful substances that allow us to feel and look our best – when they’re in balance. The problem is, hormonal imbalances have become so common that their associated symptoms are being accepted as ‘normal’. I like to say that they’re common, but they’re not normal. There is much we can do to alleviate the symptoms, some of which are debilitating for too many individuals. It saddens me that there are so many people – women especially – suffering, so I want them to know that it doesn’t have to be this way.”
Q: How do our hormones affect us?
L: “They truly have an impact on so many aspects of our health and our experience of everyday life. There are hormones that influence our appetite and so if those are out of balance we may experience insatiable hunger, food cravings or inefficient body fat utilisation. Our thyroid hormones can significantly affect our energy as well as our body fat levels. A sex hormone imbalance might show up as recurring symptoms in the lead up to or during menstruation or a challenging transition through menopause. Elevated stress hormones might increase anxious feelings or impact on our ability to sleep.”
Q: What are some tell-tale signs of a hormonal imbalance?
L: “It really depends on which hormones and the stage of life you’re in. Elevated stress hormones may result in you feeling fatigued regardless of how well you slept, or you may feel tired but wired and unable to sleep restoratively. Imbalances in our sex hormones or thyroid hormones can result in changes in our skin, hair and body fat levels. Hot flushes, PMS and mood swings are also common signs of a sex hormone imbalance.”
Q: How can you correct a hormonal imbalance?
L: “The most important thing to identify is the road your body took to create the hormonal imbalance for this is the road you will need to take to correct the issue. For example, if you have an excess of estrogen due to a liver that is struggling to keep up with the load of problematic substances you are asking it to process on a daily basis, supporting your liver will be key to support efficient clearance of estrogen from the body. However, if estrogen is too high because you have low progesterone resulting from poor ovarian and/or adrenal gland production of this hormone, you’re probably not going to find the liver support as helpful as you would adrenal support or ensuring your body is getting the nutrients it needs to build progesterone.”
Q: What can we do to keep our hormones balanced?
L: “Our hormones can be extremely sensitive to the way we live our lives. In order to support our hormonal balance, we need to take great care of ourselves – not only physically in terms of nutrition, moving our body regularly and prioritising sleep, but also emotionally. Chronic stress can really disrupt our hormonal balance, and unfortunately this is very common these days.”
Dr Libby will be bringing her new event, The Hormone Factor around Australia during September to discuss ageing, hormones and beauty. For more information and tickets visit drlibby.com.
Have you experienced a hormonal imbalance?