Most of us would likely associate the word “hormone” with women.
This is interesting given that hormones exist in all multicellular beings regardless of gender!
Because it is Men’s Health Month, we wanted to dedicate this blog to educating you on three hormones present in male bodies, and to also give you some tips on how to keep those hormones in balance!.
Hormones are secreted directly into the bloodstream from the body’s endocrine glands. Hormones are signaling molecules, essentially chemical messengers, which relay directives between different organs and tissues of the body that order them to function properly.
Some of these functions include:
Let’s start our discussion of specific hormones with the one that people are probably most familiar with…
To call back to our opening statement, while testosterone is primarily associated with men, women actually produce testosterone as well, though not nearly as much. It’s also present in some animals.
As the name suggests, testosterone is produced by the testicles. It makes sense then, that this hormone plays a big part in sperm production.
However, it shouldn’t just be associated with our sex drive as it also affects our red blood cell count, how men store fat, the growth of body hair, and increased muscle and bone mass.
While testosterone levels naturally start to dip as men age, irregularly low levels can have quite the effect on a man’s wellbeing including:
If you’ve been following our blogs recently, you’ll already be familiar with this hormone!
Cortisol is a stress hormone, otherwise known as the “fight-or-flight hormone.”
When our body perceives itself to be under threat, it releases cortisol. This hormone then sends messages all over the body to help it prepare for a potential engagement with the threat.
Our muscles tense, to protect ourselves from impact. Our breathing starts to quicken, providing our cells with much more oxygen. Blood flow is directed away from the surface area of the body, and toward the muscles, brain, arms and legs.
However, chronic stress can lead to significant cortisol imbalance, which can manifest itself in a number of physical symptoms, including:
Also known as somatotropin, this does exactly what you’d expect. It is made as a small protein by the pituitary gland and secreted directly into the bloodstream, where it stimulates our growth, cell reproduction and cell regeneration.
Of course, most growth will happen when we are younger. Levels of GH rise and lower throughout the day, but if we analyze the lifetime trend we typically see levels rising during childhood, peaking during puberty, and declining after middle-age.
GH is still important for adults, as it can promote a healthy utilization of fats in the body, and also boost our protein production.
If our GH gets too low we will definitely start to feel it. Some common symptoms include:
First, if you suspect that you may be suffering from hormonal imbalance, you must consult your doctor. Depending on your personal situation, there may be specific medical help that you need to prioritize.
If you are simply looking to keep your hormones where they are, or potentially boost them, we have some practical advice below.
Engaging in regular exercise is very beneficial for your Growth Hormone. Weight-lifting can offer a boost to your testosterone, while aerobic exercise can benefit cortisol levels.
What does eating “well” mean? Eating good food, and food that is good for us can have an immediate effect on releasing stress. Growth hormones benefit from consuming enough protein, while testosterone levels can also receive a boost from cage-free eggs, spinach, pumpkin seeds and pomegranate.
It’s not just what you eat, but how much of it you consume. Many of us may not realize it, but both overeating and undereating can contribute to poor hormonal levels which lead to weight gain. Depending on your needs you can calculate your personal calorie range, and work from there.
It doesn’t matter what else you do… if you don’t get enough sleep, you are fighting a losing battle. Sleep has a huge impact on our hormones. You want to aim for between 7-8 hours of uninterrupted, high-quality sleep each night.
Stress plays such a huge role in hormonal imbalance. Finding activities that provide a stress release is incredibly important! A meditation practice, therapeutic journaling, or a self-improvement hobby can go a long way toward balancing hormones.