Messengers of life

By Dr. Chelsea Gronick

Dr. Chelsea Gronick is a naturopathic doctor with expertise in helping patients with thyroid and hormone imbalances and weight loss resistance. She has a medical practice in downtown Kelowna.

If our hormones, which carry messages between cells and organs, are out of balance, so are we.

Hormones affect everything.

In my last column, I discussed the first three pillars of hormonal balance; here are the remaining three areas, which can contribute to better hormonal balance and overall health.

4. Boost your nutrient levels

  • I commonly see nutrient deficiencies and borderline anemias in a majority of my patients with hormonal imbalance. A few key vitamins and minerals needed for optimal hormonal balance include vitamins A, C, and D, the B family of vitamins, especially B5, B6, folate, as well as methylcobalamin and minerals such as magnesium, zinc, selenium, and iron. There can be many reasons for poor nutrient levels, but the most common ones I see are mal-absorption from digestive system imbalances and food sensitivities (especially wheat/gluten and dairy), chronic stress, use of birth control, long term NSAID use (Advil, Tylenol, etc), acid blockers medications, excess caffeine and alcohol consumption and low stomach acid.
  • Tip: A high-quality multivitamin-mineral is always a good place to start to ensure you are getting adequate levels. Better still, Vitamin IV Therapy is an amazing way to boost levels of all these vitamins and minerals by saturating your cells in nutrients.

5. Deal with your stress

  • Chronic stressors come from a range of unhealthy lifestyle habits including poor diet and food sensitivities, too much or too little exercise, poor sleep, environmental toxins and heavy metals, chronic low-grade infections, the need for rest and relaxation and internalizing emotional stress.
  • Under chronic stress, the adrenal glands increase their output of cortisol, our stress hormone. This increase in cortisol requires the production of large levels of pregnenolone, our master hormone, in order to keep up. Chronic stressors and cortisol steal away pregnelonone from areas needed to produce our sex hormones including estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Overtime, not only do our sex hormones become depleted and imbalanced, but so does the body’s cortisol levels, resulting in fatigue, aches, pains, stubborn weight gain, anxiety, depression, low sex drive and weak immunity.
  • Tip: What I’ve just described is often referred to as the beginnings of “adrenal fatigue,” which exists in three stages. In order to assess cortisol levels and adrenal function, I recommended saliva or urine testing.

6. Improve your digestion and elimination

  • Excess hormones are eliminated through our digestive system so having regular bowel movements and a healthy digestive system is crucial to proper hormonal function. New research shows the make up of the bacteria in the digestive tract (often referred to as the gut microbiome) has a major impact on hormonal balance.
  • Imbalances in the flora in your gut and/or an increased permeability (aka leaky gut) activates the immune system, drives up insulin levels, disrupts blood sugar balance and can lead to hormonal imbalances and low thyroid function. Digestive system imbalances and food allergies also impair nutrient absorption, which further leads to hormonal imbalance.
  • Avoid or moderate things known to disrupt  optimal hormonal balance including caffeine, alcohol, hormonal contraceptives (ie. birth control) and sugar.

In case you missed it in the last column, I’ve created a hormone quiz that you can take to see if hormonal imbalance might be the cause of your health concerns.

You can access the quiz here.

If you’ve been struggling with a thyroid, adrenal, weight loss resistance or hormone issue, a great first step would be to have your hormones tested with a naturopathic doctor.

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