In recent times, hormones have taken center stage on topics of health and wellness. A number of studies have been made to understand the role these messengers play in our bodies.
To begin with, let us first start by understanding exactly what hormones are. In the simplest term, hormones can be defined as little chemical messengers of our body that pass valuable information with the help of neurons throughout the body. Hormones regulate the body’s physical, emotional, and metabolic functions.
There have been over 50 hormones discovered by researchers to date. Serotonin, insulin, melatonin, estrogen, testosterone, thyroid stimulating hormone, cortisol, etc. are just a few examples of the same.
These hormones work in close proximity with each other and external stimuli and bring about changes within the body.
Hormones have a wide range of physiological effects, including those on blood pressure, metabolism, sex drive, growth and fertility, and even sleep. They have a significant impact on how we think and behave every day. Hormones are unquestionably potent.
Below are some of the functions that are regulated by hormones and that impact the well being of humans.
Growth and development:
The Human Growth Hormone (HGH) also known as somatotropin, is responsible for the proper growth and development of the body. It controls body growth by boosting protein anabolism, intestinal calcium absorption, glucose conservation, and so on. It aids in the production and deposit of proteins, the formation of long bones, and the development of other skeleton components.
As HGH plays a part in protein production, it also directly helps and impacts muscle building. This feature of the hormone greatly helps in understanding the role of exercise and the better functioning of body processes. Post a workout, the hormone is better regulated and helps build lean muscle mass.
Lastly, somatotropin also improves the metabolic rate of the body and plays an essential role in building immunity.
Sleep is the most underrated blessing! Numerous studies have shown the connection between good sleep and improved health. Sleep helps our body rest, recover, eliminate toxins, and rejuvenate.
Melatonin is the hormone that controls our sleep cycle. It gradually starts building more as evening approaches, thereby signaling the body to slow down and prepare for rest.
The level of Melatonin is impacted by the use of blue screens such as Tv, Cellphone, laptop etc. It is for this very reason, that health experts strongly discourage the use of blue screens before bedtime. This habit reduces the levels of melatonin secreted, makes it difficult to sleep, and disrupts the sleep cycle.
Melatonin plays a part in the regulation of over 500 genes, one of which is the gene that controls the body’s immunity. Poor immunity makes th
e body weak and susceptible to frequent infections or diseases.
Estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, etc. are hormones that regulate the human reproductive system. In women, a slight fluctuation in hormone
s is experienced during menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause and is considered normal. However, at times, extreme hormonal variation occurs due to poor food and lifestyle choices. This imbalance causes serious ailments like PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), endometriosis, infertility, hormonal acne, low libido, etc.
In men, fluctuations of the male hormones testosterone and androgen affect the reproductive fat metabolism system and may often lead to infertility and visceral obesity.
To manage weight, one needs to understand the body’s cues, especially the hunger cues. Hunger can be either physical or emotional, and understanding the same helps to avoid overeating or weight gain. Dietitians and health coaches therefore encourage mindful eating practices. The hormones insulin, ghrelin, and leptin are the key hunger and satiety hormones that work in sync.
Due to various lifestyle reasons, many people have poor signaling of the hormones, especially leptin (the fullness hormone), and as a result, the fullness signal doesn’t reach the brain and leads to overeating. Also, the vagus nerve is the nerve that communicates between the gut and the brain. The gut is responsible for functions like immunity building, production of the happy hormone serotonin, absorption of nutrients, water, etc. If the gut isn’t healthy, the absorption of nutrients is impacted, resulting in poor health. Exercise and correct nutrition greatly aid in the better functioning of these hormones.
Hormones are regulated by the hypothalamus. Fluctuations in hormones due to various stimuli directly impact a person’s mood.
Women especially experience mood swings and PMS symptoms during menses, pregnancy, menopause, etc. as the reproductive hormone levels vary. Bloating, acne, and constipation are just some of the effects of it.
Patients with improper thyroid hormone functioning have been reported to experience irritation, tiredness, and restlessness. Increased cortisol, or the stress hormone, is known to induce a number of illnesses, such as anxiety, sadness, low energy, and irritability, which interfere with daily activities and quality of life.
Apart from the above-mentioned reasons, hormones greatly influence the cardiovascular system, gluconeogenesis, thyroid functio
ns, immunity building, bone density, and gut health of the body. Hence, for optimal hormone functioning, consistent and healthy practices are required to be followed. A well balanced diet with proper hydration provides the body with the essential nutrients and energy required for hormonal balance. Regular physical activity, a proper sleep cycle, and stress management help the body function better and maintain optimal health.
Numerous vital bodily functions are governed by hormones. The symptoms that arise from an imbalance in hormones can be very diverse.
According to research, various lifestyle choices can optimize these hormones’ levels. In general, maintaining a balanced diet, making sleep a priority, and engaging in regular exercise may improve your general health and lower your risk of developing chronic disease.