Tired, moody or irritable? These simple lifestyle changes could help balance your hormones
Feeling overtired, bloated or just not your best? It could be down to hormone imbalance. We tend not to think about our hormones on a daily basis, but they play a vital role in our everyday life, affecting everything from our appetite to our libido. That means if any of our hormones are imbalanced, our body can suffer in a variety of ways.
What are hormones?
Hormones are chemical messengers that are produced in our endocrine glands and are sent around our blood stream. ‘Hormones help to control many body functions, such as growth, repair and reproduction, says Dr Aarti Narayan-Denning, NHS GP and hormone replacement specialist. ‘We reach various life stages when our hormones rise, and we age as our hormones decline.’
There are over 50 types of hormones in the body, and they each have a different role to play. Some of the major hormones are:
- Cortisol: the stress hormone
- Thyroid: this controls our metabolism
- Oestrogen: the female sex hormone
- Testosterone: the male sex hormone
- Leptin: this regulates body weight
- Insulin: this one looks after blood sugar levels
- Melatonin: the sleep hormone
Getty Images/JGI/Tom Grill
What is hormone imbalance?
Hormone imbalance means having too little or too much of a hormone. ‘It’s normal for hormone levels to fluctuate at different times in your life, or even at different times of the month,’ says Abbas Kanani, pharmacist at Chemist Click.
‘But a hormone imbalance is usually associated with levels that are unusually high or low, which can have a negative impact on certain aspects of your health. A hormone imbalance can affect your weight, sleep and mood.’
What are the signs of hormone imbalance?
Because hormones affect your overall health, the symptoms of hormonal imbalance can be broad, as it depends which type of hormone isn’t working properly. However, there are a few key symptoms to look out for, says Kanani:
? Change in weight – weight gain is more common with a hormone imbalance, but weight loss is also possible.
? Changes in mood – including depression, anxiety, loss of libido.
? Muscle weakness.
? Changes in skin, including outbreaks of acne, excessive stretch marks, dry skin.
? Changes in menstrual pattern, such as heavy periods, missed periods, irregular periods.
? Thinning of your hair.
? Chronic fatigue or changes to your regular sleep pattern.
How do you treat hormone imbalance?
‘Your GP can refer you for blood tests, which will provide an indication into how best to treat the imbalance in hormones,’ says Kanani. ‘There are certain medications that can have a direct impact on hormone levels, such as thyroid medication, contraceptive pills and oestrogen or progesterone therapy. These drugs can help to restore hormone levels, bringing them back into balance.’
However, there are plenty of natural remedies and easy lifestyle changes you can make to help redress hormone imbalance too. These include:
✔️ Maintain a healthy body weight
✔️ Exercise regularly
✔️ Minimise stress
✔️ Get enough sleep
✔️ Cut back on alcohol intake