Healthy Routes Column: Keeping our hormonal balance healthy

by Gladys Kublik, co-owner Neighbours Vitamin Shop

We all have them; we wouldn’t be here without them (really), and we load blame on them for a myriad of troubles.
The first month of school is a perfect of example of the problems hormones can cause. Many teens and preteens seem to change personalities on a daily basis. The excitement and optimism of first day ‘back to school jitters’ can often plummet dramatically by the end of the first week, sometimes soaring again unrealistically before stabilizing somewhere closer to reality. This balance is easily swayed by anything from an eruption of acne to a certain look or word from a parent, teacher, friend or new heartthrob. If you have survived the rearing of teenagers, you can verify that this balance looks more like a teeter totter at times.

The good news is that as hormones balance themselves so do teenagers. The reality is that hormones are an integral part of our make up for life. The bad news is that they can become unbalanced at any time throughout our life. Even though the pubescent flood of hormonal activity levels off and changes through the years and we learn to recognize and deal with it, the hormonal balance is an ever changing point influenced by nutrition, stress, health, exercise and age.

Our hormones are chemicals secreted by glands of the Endocrine system that includes the testes, ovaries, pancreas, adrenal, thymus, thyroid, hypothalamus, pineal and pituitary glands. Acting together with various other glands and organs, this is an interactive system where each gland produces a unique hormone to regulate a certain aspect of physiology which also affects the other organs, glands and hormones within this system. Hormones have the following effects on the body: stimulation or inhibition of growth; wake-sleep cycle and other circadian rhythms; mood swings; induction or suppression of apoptosis (programmed cell death); activation or inhibition of the immune system; regulation of metabolism; preparation of the body for mating, fighting, fleeing, and other activity; preparation of the body for a new phase of life, such as puberty, parenting, and menopause; control of the reproductive cycle; hunger cravings; sexual arousal.

A hormone may also regulate the production and release of other hormones. Hormone signals control the internal environment of the body through homeostasis. A variety of exogenous chemical compounds, both natural and synthetic, have hormone-like effects on both humans and wildlife. Their interference with the synthesis, secretion, transport, binding, action, or elimination of natural hormones in the body can change the homeostasis, reproduction, development, and/or behavior, similar to endogenously produced hormones. Pollutants in our food, air and water commonly leached from the plastic containers so commonly used to store our foods and drinks are a common source of these disruptive chemicals. This is a significant cause of modern ailments.

A few of the most common Endocrine Disruptors on the “must avoid” list include: BPA (bisphenol-A), parabens, phthalates, PBDE’s (polybrominated diphenyl ethers), mercury, lead, pesticides and herbicides. The problem is, avoiding them is easier said than done as EDs are all over the place, lurking in many everyday items such as food, personal care products, sunscreen, perfume, antibacterial washes, household cleaners, laundry products, vinyl shower curtains, plastic toys, electronics, household dust, bug sprays – the list goes on and on!

In addition to avoiding these endocrine/hormone disruptors by choosing your food, toiletries, makeup and household products intelligently, it is important to eliminate them from the body. A frequent moderate detoxification program has be shown to decrease blood levels of many EDs. Quercitin, Alpha-Lipoic Acid and Milk Thistle all support the body in its detoxification and elimination processes. Extra fibre such as ground flax meal or psyllium husk is an essential component in the detoxification process, absorbing and binding toxins drawn from the cells and eliminating them.

A refrigerated, concentrated probiotic supplement helps. Bifidobacterium breve and Lactobacillus casei were found to extract BPA from the blood of mammals and aid its excretion out through the bowels. That is very good news! Beneficial bacteria strengthen the gut and help to eliminate other chemicals like BPA so they can be cleared out. Probiotics are becoming well known for breaking down endocrine-disruptors in the body in addition to their numerous other benefits.

The next time you blame your hormones for symptoms such as adult onset acne, mood swings, weight gain, anxiety or infertility, consider the hormone disruptors in your life and get them out of your house, out of your body, out of your life. We can help, stop in at Neighbors Vitamin Shop to speak to one of our staff.

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