Hormones affect everything, from blood sugar to blood pressure, growth/fertility, sex drive, metabolism, and even sleep. Their influence goes as far as changing the way we think and act day to day.
At least 80% of us will struggle with a hormone problem in our lifetimes, significant enough to cause disruption in our life quality, career, and overall health. A field of science called exposome science shows us how this interconnectedness shapes our neurobiology, endocrinology, immunology, microbiology, and more. This approach allows for individualized and personalized medicine.
At Empowered Health, we strive to uncover the root cause for imbalances that can prevent the potential long-term consequences of improperly treated health imbalances.
What are hormones?
Hormones are chemical messengers. We have hormone receptors all over the body. We need to balance and address all systems because they all communicate with one another. One of the most common misconceptions about hormones is that there is nothing we can do to improve them.
In fact, there are many lifestyle components that can be tailored to the individual’s unique condition. The important part is to determine hormone levels by checking these in lab work to be able to balance all the key areas. In turn, this will improve energy, metabolism, and overall health.
In considering the hormones, we are talking about the sex hormones, thyroid hormones, insulin, and cortisol secreted by the adrenal glands. There are many things that can contribute to hormone imbalance, such as imbalances in the gut microbiome, altered nutrition, insulin resistance, and nutrient levels.
How do we balance our hormones to improve energy and maintain a healthy weight?
- Food first. It is so important to remove all processed sugars and starches from your diet along with adding five to seven servings of phytonutrients (plant-based colorful foods) daily. These superfoods maximize the detoxification process in every cell. Foods that are rich in B vitamins, vitamin A, vitamin C, and antioxidants (phytonutrients) help boost these detox pathways. The important part is to feed your gut microbiome while removing the foods that can destroy or alter it. Alcohol is just sugar in a different form; moderation and limitation is important. Increasing fiber and eating whole, real foods is key for improving gut function and optimizing hormones.
- Avoid/remove toxins like plastics, pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, electronic waste, and food additives, which can play a part in disrupting the gut microbiome. These are called endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) for a reason; they disrupt the hormonal systems in place. Also, ensure your water is filtered.
- Improve sleep. Strive for seven to nine restorative hours (for adults). Sleep is the time that the body is cleaning up and repairing itself. The levels of several hormones fluctuate according to light and dark cycles. Sleep disturbance negatively impacts hormonal rhythms and metabolism. Under poor sleep conditions, you are at risk for becoming insulin resistant or having imbalances of hunger/satiety chemicals that can lead to overindulging and weight gain. You are also at increased risk of high blood pressure, having higher levels of inflammatory chemicals (increasing risk for heart disease), experiencing changes in mood that can lead to anxiety and/or depression, having a lowered libido, and developing a weakened immune system.
- Stress reduction. Stress can lead to changes in the levels of many hormones that can cause thyroid disorders, imbalanced sex hormones for men and women, increased levels of cortisol (fight or flight stress chemical), increased insulin and glucose levels, and strain on the cardiovascular system. Increasing yoga or meditation/breathwork daily — when paired with other improved lifestyle factors — can reset these imbalances.
- Intermittent fasting. The idea of eating dinner two to three hours prior to sleep and then not eating again until the morning and ‘fasting’ for 12 hours is the simple concept of intermittent fasting. This is the time that the body is repairing itself, regenerating new cells while cleaning up old cells. This drives down insulin and glucose levels, while improving the sex hormones, weight loss, and improving stamina/energy.
Haley Scellick is a board-certified Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner at Empowered Health Institute, a precision medicine clinic located in the Parkway in Richland. She has a wide berth of nursing experience that includes neurosurgery and orthopedics. She completed her Master’s of Science in Nursing at Gonzaga University and also has a Bachelor’s of Arts in Biology from Central Washington University.
Haley is passionate about treating each patient holistically and has pursued health and wellness in her own personal life. She is an avid outdoor enthusiast and has completed two marathons and the Seattle to Portland (STP) Bike Ride. Her hobbies also include spending time with her family, crafts and reading.