Hormones are chemicals manufactured by your body organs and cells. Raging hormones excite children and teens through the adventures to young adults. Declining hormones are found among those over 50, with a few at 35. Estrogen dominance becomes an issue when ovulating stops. At that point, progesterone – an associative hormone – level drops. There are numerous emotional and physical consequences with hormonal balance. It is not just women, hormone balance also affects men. Aging people can still have wonderful living opportunities. How do you keep hormones balanced?
There is life. There is living. Life is a solid state of being, like a cell. Living is a complex network of interactions that require sophistication and control. Among the many are a group of bio-tropic chemicals produced by glands that naturally occur and are essentials parts within our bodies. A dysfunction of one or more glands (by inheritance, environment, lifestyle, development) poses threats to delicate balances that living requires. Estrogen is a human hormone that exists in women and in men. Estrogen dominance, as part of aging, is a developing process that has taken scientists and people’s attention as the population life expectancy gets longer. Some of those new conditions that seem to crop-up after age 50 may actually be dependent in the levels of hormones, such as estrogen, progesterone, and several others.
There are many hormones throughout the body that act as regulators to maintain balance. Certain key hormones are monitored in blood tests taken at a routine medical exam. Each has a normal range, plus high or low. Beyond normal, a form of dominance shows up defining special conditions. Under variances, two specific hormones – estrogen and progesterone – change levels dramatically as women age. This process was recently identified with aging men. Neurotransmitters, endorphins, epinephrines, are also among hormones that vary with age. Estrogen dominance, excessive estrogen hormone, may lie as a key to many complaints through our aging bodies.
There are about 50 known hormones in your body as part of network that stimulate and inhibit hormone production.
In many senses, living makes use of a vast array of chemicals that may help make living possible – living better or worse. The next few pages list these hormones, although our discussion focuses on estrogen dominance and associations with aging:
Melatonin – Think of melatonin as your biological clock. This hormone is responsible for the way you feel throughout the day as far as alertness is concerned. All those drowsy feelings? Blame the melatonin.
Serotonin – This is the one you can blame for PMS and your moody teenager. Serotonin controls your mood, appetite, and your sleep cycles.
Thyroxin – A form of thyroid hormone, thyroxin increases the rate of your metabolism and also affects protein synthesis, which is the process that cells go through to build protein.
Epinephrine – This is one that you have most likely heard of; it’s also called adrenaline. Among a whole list of other things, epinephrine is responsible for what is known as the, “fight or flight” response. This is the hormone that tells you when to fight and when it’s best to run. Some of the bodily responses demonstrated when this hormone kicks in are dilated pupils, increased heart rate, and tensing of the muscles.
Norepinephrine – Also called noradrenaline, this hormone controls the heart and blood pressure. Norepinephrine also contributes to the control of sleep, arousal, and emotions. Obvious effects take place when there is too much or too little of this hormone. Too much gives you an anxious feeling while too little can leave you feeling depressed or sedated.
Dopamine – This controls the heart rate and also assists in perception; deciphering what is real and what is not.
Antimullerian Hormone – An inhibitor for the release of prolactin, the protein responsible mainly for lactation.
Adiponectin – This is a protein hormone, it regulates metabolic processes such as the regulation of glucose.
Adrenocorticotropic Hormone – This assists in synthesizing corticosteroids, which are responsible for stress response, blood electrolyte levels, and other physiologic systems.
Angiotensinogen – Responsible for the narrowing of blood vessels; a process known as vasoconstriction.
Antidiuretic Hormone – This hormone is also known by other names, but it is mainly responsible for retaining water within the kidneys.
Atrial Natriuretic Peptide – A peptide hormone secreted by the cells of the heart and other muscles, it’s mostly involved with the control of water, sodium, potassium, and fat within the body.
Calcitonin – Aids in constructing bone and reducing blood calcium.
Cholecystokinin – Aids in the release of digestive enzymes for the pancreas and acts as an appetite suppressant.
Corticotrophin-Releasing Hormone – Releases cortisol in response to stress.
Erythropoietin – Stimulates the production of erythrocytes, which are blood cells responsible for delivering oxygen.
Follicle-Stimulating Hormone – Stimulates the follicles within the sex organs of both males and females.
Gastrin – Secretes gastric acid.
Ghrelin – Hunger stimulant as well as aiding in the secretion of the growth hormone.
Glucagon – Helps to increase the blood glucose level.
Growth Hormone-Releasing Hormone – As its name clearly implies, this hormone releases the growth hormone.
Human Chorionic Gonadotropin – Keeps the immune system from attacking a forming embryo during pregnancy.
Growth Hormone – Helps to stimulate growth and the reproduction of cells.
Insulin – Responsible for several anabolic effects, primarily glucose intake.
Insulin-Like Growth Factor – Has the same effects as insulin while also regulating the growth and development of cells.
Leptin – Slows down the appetite while simultaneously speeding up metabolism.
Luteinizing Hormone – Aids ovulation in women and testosterone production in men.
Melanocyte Stimulating Hormone – Produce melanocytes, which are responsible for the pigment in skin and hair.
Orexin – Increases the appetite while also increasing your alertness and energy levels.
Oxytocin – A hormone that plays a major role in reproduction, it aids in orgasm and is also responsible for the release of breast milk.
Parathyroid Hormone – Among other functions, this hormone is mainly responsible for the activation of Vitamin D.
Prolactin – A major contributor in sexual satisfaction and the production of breast milk.
Secretin – Inhibits gastric acid production.
Aldosterone – Mainly responsible for absorbing sodium in the kidneys to increase the volume of blood within the body.
Testosterone – The major male hormone, testosterone is responsible for sex drive, development of the sex organs, and the changes that take place during puberty.
Androstenedione – Essentially estrogen.
Estradiol – In males, this hormone is responsible for preventing what is basically known as cell death of the germ cells. In females, this hormone is in overdrive. Among other things, estradiol accelerates height and metabolism, maintains the blood vessels and skin, aids in water retention, and even aids in hormone-sensitive cancers.
Progesterone – A major contributor to the body’s support of pregnancy.
Lipotropin – Stimulates the production of pigment by aiding in melanin production.
Brain natriuretic peptide – Aids in reducing blood pressure.
Histamine – A hormone based in the stomach, histamine aids in the secreting of gastric acid.
Endothelin – Controls muscle contractions within the stomach.
Enkephalin – Simply a pain regulator.
These are only examples of some of the 600 known hormones within the body; there are more complex hormones whose functions are not easily understood.
As people age, they often see their bodies change. Whether they eat responsibly and, regardless of activity, fat seems to accumulate and energy seems to drop. In a sense, it is your body’s way of alerting a possible imbalance as part of homeostasis. It’s a hormonal imbalance that comes at menopause. While estrogen may increase in women, progesterone levels may drop up to 70%.
In men and pre-menopausal women, too much estrogen — a condition called estrogen dominance — causes toxic fat gain, water retention, bloating, and a host of other health and wellness issues. As women age, there is a natural decline in testosterone and progesterone levels, leaving a relative excess of estrogen. This imbalance, this excess ratio of estrogen to progesterone makes dieting seem impossible as your sizes increase. The distribution of fat in women goes from young appearances to matronly, from a little overweight to obese. While genes may be involved, estrogen dominance over decreasing levels of progesterone may make normal dieting regimens impractical. Some might say estrogen is confusing because it is an essential
According to Dr. Christiane Northrup, the symptoms of estrogen dominance as women enter menopause are varied – from mild to severe. They may be:
Decreased sex drive
Irregular or otherwise abnormal menstrual periods
Bloating (water retention)
Breast swelling and tenderness
Headaches (especially premenstrually)
Mood swings (most often irritability and depression)
Weight and/or fat gain (particularly around the abdomen and hips)
Cold hands and feet (a symptom of thyroid dysfunction)
Foggy thinking, memory loss
Symptoms of low progesterone for women who aren’t pregnant include:
headaches or migraines.
mood changes, including anxiety or depression.
irregular menstrual cycle.
Another group of research studies seem to infer that estrogen dominance levels might lead to breast or uterine cancer. The overall problem of treating estrogen dominance in menopausal and post-menopausal women is that the pharmaceutical hormone replacement treatments demonstrated associative links to cancer. Admittedly, more recent studies seemed to infer that positive breast cancer diagnoses were false positives by around 30%.
Hormonal imbalances and aging aren’t just secluded for women. Men, in recent years, seem to also pass a menopause-like phase. It is called Andropause. Age-related decline in testosterone levels is also called testosterone deficiency, androgen decline in the aging male (ADAM) or late onset hypogonadism (LOH). Andropause is different from the menopause women experience. In menopause, the production of female hormone drops suddenly.Men may experience a more gradual loss.
According to Healthline, Male menopause can cause physical, sexual, and psychological problems. They typically worsen as you get older. They can include:
depression or sadness
insomnia or difficulty sleeping
increased body fat
reduced muscle mass and feelings of physical weakness
gynecomastia, or development of breasts
decreased bone density
It’s kind of neat that these symptoms are often diagnosed in response to individual complaints and treated as such. Yet, estrogen dominance and the changes of mood, energy, and blood changes with new alarming indicators may actually be a part of modulating estrogen dominance in your body.
One of the problems in dealing with estrogen dominance and other hormonal issues are treatments. While you may deal with each symptom as it appears, those treatments may still be counter-productive within the entire context of male and female menopause. It is suggested that frequent, routine treatments and testing be done with either a urologist or an OB/GYN. An estrogen test measures the level of the most important estrogen hormones in a blood or urine sample.
Generally, after menopause, once the menstrual cycle stops, the ovaries no longer produce progesterone. However, the body still needs progesterone and does continue producing it in the adrenal glands and nerve cells. Is it enough?
So…at a point to mediate estrogen during menopause, physicians began prescribing lab-produced estrogen – estradiol and Premarin. Premarin was produced by Pfizer. Responsibly, over the years, Pfizer has been adding cautions on Premarin, this drug designed to only reduce hot flashes gave many women causes of concern:
Using estrogen-alone may increase your chance of getting cancer of the uterus (womb). Report any unusual vaginal bleeding right away while you are using PREMARIN. Vaginal bleeding after menopause may be a warning sign of cancer of the uterus (womb). Your healthcare provider should check any unusual vaginal bleeding to find out the cause.
Do not use estrogens with or without progestins to prevent heart disease, heart attacks, strokes or dementia (decline in brain function).
Using estrogen-alone may increase your chances of getting strokes or blood clots. Using estrogens with progestins may increase your chances of getting heart attacks, strokes, breast cancer, or blood clots.
According to Healthline, sponsored by the USA government, using Premarin may help develop some common side effects that might include:
breast changes and pain
depression or mood changes
high blood pressure
increased heart rate
Taking Premarin may cause these additional common side effects:
partial or complete vision loss
Risks and interactions
Use of either estradiol or Premarin may also increase your risk of:
But at postmenopausal years, when hot flashes subside, and the symptoms of estrogen dominance prevail, you wonder how to increase progesterone. Prometrium is another prescription drug for that. That sounded great when it was introduced over a decade ago. Are there side effects?
Common Side Effects of Progesterone
Painful or tender breasts
Greater risk for viral infections
Serious Side Effects of Progesterone
Dementia in post-menopausal women who are more than 65 years of age
Swelling in the feet, ankles, and lower legs
Heart attack, stroke, or blood clots in the lungs
Missed periods or breakthrough bleeding
Breast cancer (most common in women between ages 50 and 79)
Rare Side Effects of Progesterone
Some patients may notice mood swings and feel tired or nauseated while taking progesterone.
Progesterone Interactions – If you are taking any of the following, ask your doctor about other possible options before taking progesterone:
Cancer drugs like Gilotrif (afatinib), Zydelig (idelasalib), and Tafinlar (dabrafenib)
HIV/AIDS medications like Stribild (eltivagravir/cobicistat/emtricitabine/tenofovir)
Afrezza (inhaled insulin)
Of course many drugs have side effects because they tend to mimic our natural chemicals but are not specific clones. They do not interact fully in opening and closing the body’s many doors and windows well.
So…as with many articles on Lifedoc Lifetime, we discuss how acts of living – diet, activity, nutrition, and other natural ways might just help make living easier under an umbrella of wellness.
Perhaps one of the more predominant gripes of entering the mid-fifties may be noticeable size changes from Medium to Extra Large (or plus sizes) may be life and living threatening to many.
To achieve weight loss or to prevent weight gain during menopause, stay active and eat a healthy diet. If your lifestyle begins to change as you age, try to keep physical activity and portion control at the top of your priority list. Here estrogen dominance is not a clear issue. There may be dietary components along with reduction of activities that increase depression. So, though, estrogen dominance may not be present, certain foods may reduce estrogen’s role in your metabolic rate to use foods. Lack of estrogen may also cause the body to use starches and blood sugar less effectively, which would increase fat storage and make it harder to lose.
Weight loss diets of postmenopausal people are not really fat-dependent. The consensus of most physicians seems to negate low-fat diets with hormonal balance. Reducing sugars and starches and focusing on healthy fats may be a route to weight loss. Fat-free or reduced-fat foods are bad news for postmenopausal women for a few reasons. One, they keep you from eating the healthy fats your body needs to combat heart disease, which postmenopausal women may be at increased risk of due to a combination of , poor diet, and lack of exercise.
Part of the real culprit of weight gain in women is age and muscle loss. Women generally become less physically active as they pass through their 40s, 50s, and 60s. At any age, burning fewer calories because we are less active increases weight and fat mass. With decreased activity, muscle mass decreases.
Hormonal imbalances are multi-factorial disorders, meaning they are caused by a combination of factors such as your diet, medical history, genetics, stress levels and exposure to toxins from your environment. For example, most food storage containers are BPA-Free. BPA stands for bisphenol A. BPA is an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960s. They are thought to cause endocrine disruption (of hormone activities). Continued exposure to BPA has been linked to estrogen dominance. While many containers and plastic cans may be BPA-Free, do you think those take-out plastic containers are BPA-Free?
Basically, once you get your hormone levels checked, you may want to add the help of a licensed, competent nutritionist. A nutritionist professional can help guide you through supplements (not approved by FDA) and dietary choices. Supplements and foods use ingredients that may mimic hormones like estrogen and progesterone. Xenoestrogens are a type of xenohormone that imitates estrogen. They can be either synthetic or natural chemical compounds. Because the primary route of exposure to these compounds is by consumption of phytoestrogenic plants, they are sometimes called “dietary estrogens”.
For example, certain foods deemed reasonably healthy in normal situations have been shown to promote estrogen dominance:
Seeds: flaxseeds and sesame seeds.
Fruit: apricots, oranges, strawberries, peaches, many dried fruits.
Vegetables: yams, carrots, alfalfa sprouts, kale, celery.
Soy products: tofu, miso soup, soy yogurt.
Dark rye bread.
Legumes: lentils, peas, pinto beans.
Olives and olive oil.
Foods that reduce estrogen dominance include higher fiber and cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage, lettuces, spinach, kale, and collard greens.
Some foods work at both reducing estrogen levels while increasing progesterone levels. Over a few months, adding these to your diet may help suppress estrogen dominance. They are: Russet potatoes, salmon, tuna, bananas, spinach, walnuts, beef, chicken, sweet potato, beans and prunes.
Some obstetrics offices offer or can recommend competent nutritional counseling. Try to find someone that does. Associations of food have been studies and reviewed with powerful links to hormone balancing.
Herbal supplements for controlling menopause symptoms are very available. They may have ancient roots in alchemy and may be used as treatments around the world. They are not considered traditional medicine in the USA. Effectiveness and proper dosing have not been tested for use. Popular supplements include:
Black Cohosh – Studies on the benefits of black cohosh are mixed, but there have been some encouraging findings about the herb’s ability to decrease hot flashes, sweating, insomnia, and depression. A 2010 review by researchers found that black cohosh provided a 26% reduction in hot flashes and night sweats. According to WebMD, “It is used to treat women’s hormone-related symptoms, including premenstrual syndrome (PMS), menstrual cramps, and menopausal symptoms”. Not FDA approved in USA.
Dong Quai is an ancient Chinese remedy for menopausal and postmenopausal primary and secondary symptoms. Nutritionists claim Dong Quai is very beneficial. Again, though sold alone or in menopause supplement formulas in the USA, it is not FDA approved.
Another popular ingredient added to these supplements goes on the brand name Vitex. Vitex (chasteberry) is the most popular herbal remedy for premenstrual syndrome (PMS). It does not supply hormones but acts directly on the hypothalamus and pituitary glands. Vitex increases luteinizing hormone (LH) and modulates prolactin, resulting in a balance of estrogen and progesterone levels. This supplement has no FDA approval. There are also scientific questions how this herb functions and whether it is effective for all claims West coast health guru Dr. Axe disusses Vitex and cites some studies that claim both male and female symptom relief.
Supplements really should be discussed with a certified nutritionist. They are chemicals and may interact with areas that aren’t related but somehow have a secondary effect on hormone balancing. What may go well in Europe and Asia may not apply in the United States.
Controlling hormones isn’t dietary exclusively. Activity – walking, running or cycling – help restore hormone balance as well. While routine diet and activity are, by many, a word that is often censored, they help you create health holistically. Creating health and wellness is a bit different than the traditional medical problem that deals with a diagnosis of a specific problem, Dr. Eric Berg outlines why creating health through diet and activity as aids to balance hormones through the aging process:
Subsequently, traditional medicine and routine exams (at least once per year) are very effective methods that help isolate hormonal imbalances or, rather, conditions that arise when the symbiosis of those hundreds of hormones are changing.
Life has value but living is priceless. Estrogen dominance and progesterone deficiency partner with many symptoms that occur with aging. The key to understanding a quest for wellness and longevity is that hormonal balance is important, even though our endocrine system also deteriorates with age. Trying to escape those symptoms means diet, activity, and recovery by controlling stress and other values.
Recent research at Columbia University expresses that neurons continue to grow among older individuals. Barring chronic, disabling illnesses, they observed that (based on protein markers such as BDNF – Brain Derived Neurotropic Factors) within the hippocampus, neuron development did not yield neuronal network development. These protein factors are derived from hormones. Able social and physical activity, with aging, may offer potential development of neuronal networks. “It does appear to be the case that neurogenesis in the hippocampus is remarkably preserved in human beings,” says one of the researchers.
Life or living well. Are they choices? Well, you can sit, eat what you want, and minimize movement, other than taking racks of prescribed pills. Or you can use responsible methods of dieting and (social,physical) activities to grow better with age and aiding hormone balance.. Perhaps the best ways to mediate and control estrogen dominance and hormone imbalances is to become dominant yourself. Establish new wellness habits. Is it a gamble? Everything has side effects. It depends on who and what you want to bet. Living is an activity and, with awareness, you can control your hormone balances to help get rid of the symptoms derived from possible hormone imbalances.