Hormones: The 411
Hi Namastshay tribe! ♥ If you follow me on Instagram, then you may already know this as I have hinted to it a few times, but for those of you that don’t: my hormones are WAY out of whack and I am on a mission to balance them. If you’re wondering why hormones are so important, what they control, what can imbalance them and how to get them balanced then you’ve arrived to the right place 🙂
Honestly not long ago I had no idea what hormones actually were or that the symptoms I was experiencing (easily skipping meals followed my binging, anxiety, sugar cravings, carb cravings, headaches, weight gain, bloating and water retention, acne, cystic acne, night sweats, mood swings, PMS, severe cramps, missed period, depression, lack of motivation, foggy brain, inability to focus- YIKES! ) could be a result of a hormonal imbalance. I will say I did have some intuitive feelings that things were not right which is why I got off the pill a few years ago.. but I truly didn’t connect the dots that the seemingly random symptoms I was experiencing were all connected and rooting from the same issue: imbalanced hormones. It wasn’t until recently that I started to put the pieces together and take action. From what I have learned so far there are a multitude of ways your hormones can become imbalanced (deodorant can do it- if you saw me frantically throw out the toxic old one I was using a month or so back on insta stories now you know why haha) but I think my personal main contributors were being on the pill (and for a loooong time, and when I say long I mean 10 years straight with no breaks) my toxic night job that I worked for 5 years (I was doing bottle service at night clubs and would work from 10pm-3am at least 4x a week and sometimes wouldn’t get to bed until 5am- that type of sleeping schedule can radically change your body for the worst), because I was sleeping for usually 4 hours a night (I am a natural early riser and could never sleep in) I was drinking copious amounts of coffee constantly, I was also in a very bad relationship for 4 years that was extremely stressful and upsetting (high cortisol levels ALL.THE.TIME.) and then on top of that I was trying to combat the symptoms I was experiencing with possibly toxic products that were most definitely not helping my situation…there may have been more things I was doing to cause the imbalance but those are just some of the things that come to mind now.. crazy right? All of my choices were literally making my body sick, and I was ignoring it completely. Before I get into this post I do want to mention that I talked a little bit about one of the symptoms I have been experiencing (severe hormonal acne) in a recent blog post, Healing My Skin Part 1 so be sure to check that post out to get all of my non-toxic skincare details! I break down my current daily skincare routine and share everything that has been helping me heal my hormonal acne 🙂 I am in the midst of working on a follow up skincare post and once I see what works I will be sharing more info!
ALRIGHT, back to today’s post- today I want to provide you with some more information.. some information that I wish I had sooner…I realized after sharing on my IG that a lot of you had questions about WTF hormones actually do, what to look out for etc. so I thought this post was well overdue. I am learning right along side with you, so don’t beat yourself up if this is new information to you, it’s new for me too! Also this may be obvious but I’ll just throw this in real quick: I am not a doctor and I am not suggesting ANYTHING! I am just sharing information I have gathered that I found helpful. When I learned about all of this it really resonated with me and I sought out professional help to find out if my suspicions were correct, which they were..and I am now receiving professional care- I highly suggest you do the same if you think you have a hormonal imbalance. Please consult your doctor before making any changes or doing anything drastic!!
What are hormones?
Hormones are chemical messengers in the body that are created in the endocrine glands. These chemical messengers control most major bodily functions!! For most of my life I thought that hormones only controlled sex drive/periods etc.. boy was I wrong. Hormones are created in and by glands that are a part of your overall endocrine system. The endocrine system is an organ of glands and each gland secretes a specific type of hormone that regulates a particular function in your body, but not just your monthly cycles… hormones affect your metabolism, the way your skin and nails look, your ability to think clearly, how hungry you are, your energy levels, your mood, and of course whether you’ll have a period or a baby, as well as your libido… so basically your whole body.
The main hormone-producing glands are:
- Hypothalamus: The hypothalamus is responsible for body temperature, hunger, moods and the release of hormones from other glands; and also controls thirst, sleep and sex drive.
- Parathyroid: This gland controls the amount of calcium in the body.
- Thymus: This gland plays a role in the function of the adaptive immune system and the maturity of the thymus, and produces T-cells.
- Pancreas: This gland produces the insulin that helps control blood sugar levels.
- Thyroid: The thyroid produces hormones associated with calorie burning and heart rate.
- Adrenal: Adrenal glands produce the hormones that control sex drive and cortisol, the stress hormone.
- Pituitary: Considered the “master control gland,” the pituitary gland controls other glands and makes the hormones that trigger growth.
- Pineal: Also called the thalamus, this gland produces serotonin derivatives of melatonin, which affects sleep.
- Ovaries: Only in women, the ovaries secrete estrogen, testosterone and progesterone, the female sex hormones.
- Testes: Only in men, the testes produce the male sex hormone, testosterone, and produce sperm.
All of these glands work together to create and manage the body’s major hormones.
Signs you may have a hormonal imbalance:
In order for your hormones to do their very important jobs they have to work in harmony to achieve balance, but they can’t get there if one or more is out of whack. This is why balanced hormones (in my opinion) are the basis for good health!!! Here are a few signs/symptoms as listed in the book Woman Code that will help you decode what your body might be telling you. When I read through this list initially I was shocked at how many I circled that I thought were totally unrelated.. just a note: our bodies are constantly giving us signs for how it is doing, we just have to pay attention and tune in! Write down any symptoms you are experiencing so you can see where your biggest imbalance is.. and just an FYI: I had multiple symptoms in each category.. so if you do too don’t worry, you’re not alone!
Metabolism and Stress Symptoms
sugar and chocolate cravings
reliance on coffee, soda and energy drinks
consuming mor than 3 alcoholic beverages per week
waking up during sleep
bloating and water retention
acne or cystic acne
diarrhea or loose stools
Hormonal disruptors | What to look out for:
There is a wide range of things that could be disrupting your hormones (scary right?) not to freak you out but the water you drink or the food you eat, your makeup or skincare products, your deodorant, a poor sleep schedule, toxic environment, prolonged extreme stress and/or a poor diet are just some of the ways you can f&^k with your hormones.. and once they are out of balance it’s no easy task to get them back in line.. with that being said hormonal balance is a daily effort, and we often times don’t even realize things are out of control until we start connecting the dots.. the dots being symptoms that start to eff with our lives (like me)
Here are some chemicals you might find in your body + skin + household + makeup products that you should STAY AWAY FROM!
- Formaldehyde: A known carcinogen and irritant found in nail products, hair dye, fake-eyelash adhesives and some shampoos. It has been banned in other countries.
- Fragrance: Has hormone-disrupting effects. Fragrance is also connected to headaches, dizziness, asthma and allergies. Instead, use products with natural fragrances only.
- Lead: A known carcinogen and hormone disruptor found in certain eyeliners, hair dye and lipsticks.
- Mercury: A known irritant and allergen that, with body accumulation over time, can impair the brain and nervous system.
- Parabens (Propyl-, Isopropyl-, Butyl- and Isobutyl-): Used as preservatives in many products. A study published in the Journal of Applied Toxicology in 2004 detected parabens in breast tumors and discussed their estrogen-like properties. While this doesn’t create a direct connection with cancer, I recommend avoiding these ingredients.
- Oxybenzone: An active ingredient in chemical sunscreens that accumulates in fatty tissues and is linked to allergies, hormone disruption and cellular damage. I recommend wearing skin-protective clothing and using natural minerals or zinc products.
- DEA/TEA/MEA (Ethanolamines): Used as emulsifiers and foaming agents for shampoos, body washes, soaps and topical application. It’s been associated with cancer in animal studies.
- Sodium lauryl (ether) sulfate (SLS, SLES): A former industrial degreaser now used to make soap foamy, it’s absorbed into the body.
- Diethylene glycol (or DEG): A central nervous system depressant and potent kidney and liver toxin. Sometimes found in fragrances. Glycerin and propylene glycol are sometimes contaminated with DEG, which are common ingredients in personal care products.
Here are some chemicals you might find in your food + beverage items that you should STAY AWAY FROM!
- Atrazine: An herbicide used to control weeds and grass. Found in drinking water.
- Bisphenol A (BPA): A chemical used to harden plastics. Found in plastic bottles, the inside lining of some canned foods, medical devices, dental sealants and in the water, dust and air.
- Dioxins: A family of toxic chemicals. Found in the environment as a byproduct of industrial processing; mainly in fish, seafood, meats, eggs and cheese.
- Flame Retardants: A group of chemicals added to many manufactured items. Found in fabrics, plastics, surface coatings, furniture and baby products.
- Parabens: A preservative. Found in personal care products, such as deodorants and lotions to stop bacterial growth.
- Perchlorate: An industrial chemical. Used in rocket propellant, fireworks and road flares, and can end up in drinking water.
- Perfluorinated Compounds (PFCs): A family of chemicals. Found in food packaging and non-stick cookware.
- Pesticides: Substances used to destroy insects and other harmful organisms. Used in farming and food production.
- Phthalates: Chemicals widely used in production. Found in plastics, scented beauty products and household cleaners—and also many other everyday items, including nail polish, carpeting and even your car’s steering wheel.
- Zeranol: A naturally occurring mycoestrogen (estrogen made by fungi). Used as a growth promoter in the meat industry, which has been banned in the European Union.
- Others include: Arsenic, DDT, glycol ethers, lead, mercury, PCBs (banned in 1980, but still present in the food supply), polybrominated biphenyl (PBB) and phytoestrogens (naturally occurring plant estrogens found in greatest quantities in soybeans and flax seeds, although these have also been shown to lower breast cancer risk).
Tips for avoiding hormonal disruptors:
If you’re feeling overwhelmed know that you are not alone.. this whole process has been overwhelming for me too. The best advice I can give you is to try not to stress about it (keep that cortisol low bb!!) and don’t try to tackle everything at once. Instead, start by making some simple household and lifestyle decisions that can accumulate over time. Here are few good places to start, I have included clickable links to everything I am using!
- Check your deodorant if there is aluminum in it or any of the chemicals listed above THROW IT OUT! I recently switched to type:A and I LOVE IT! I know natural deodorants get a bad rep, but this one works great!
- Buy less plastics in general. Opt for reusable water bottles and Stasher bags for food storage!
- Get a water filter for your tap (or you can order water jugs from Milk & Eggs like me! and if you’ve never used Milk & Eggs before you can use NAMASTSHAY at check out for $20 off an order of $40 or more!) and for your shower- I ordered my shower filter on Amazon!
- Buy organic whenever possible and avoid some of the worst offending carcinogens. I always buy organic foods (it’s really not that much more in cost and to me it’s worth it to avoid screwing with my body more, which can cause poor health, which will cost me more later!) and recently I have been trying to go organic in other areas of my life too. I only use organic cotton pads for my face that I order on amazon, and I recently swapped out my regular possibly toxic towels for organic towels from Grund America (PS: you can use NAMASTSHAY15 at checkout for 15% off your Grund America order!)
- Look for “fragrance free” and “paraben free” on your next bottle of shampoo, body wash, laundry detergent and household cleaners. I am still working on the household cleaners and detergent, but I switched my body wash, shampoo , and conditioner to Rahua and LOVE IT! Beyond the fact that it is non-toxic it smells amazing!
- Go vegan! or at least try meatless Monday, and consider reducing your meat consumption across the board.
- Stick to a regular sleep schedule
- Lower Stress & cortisol levels
- Quit Coffee If you are a coffee lover like me I know this sounds scary but if it means balancing your body it’s worth it! I am doing a whole blog post on how I quit coffee so look out for that!!
- Eat a balanced diet and eat regularly: don’t skip meals!!!!
- Consider seeing an Acupuncturist and taking Chinese Herbs to support hormonal balance I started getting regular weekly acupuncture treatments to balance my body, increase circulation and balance my hormones. You can get in touch with my amazing acupuncturist and herbalist Mona Dan at (310) 902-0240 or on IG @viehealing
- Educate yourself you must must MUST read Woman Code by Alissa Vitti.. the information she provides in this book is invaluable. I also love Kelly LeVeque’s book Body Love as she breaks down how food can affect your hormones and how to balance your hormones and blood sugar at every meal! I also touch on this a little in my Vegan FabFour Smoothie blog post which is definitely worth the read 🙂
- Switch to non-toxic makeup I have switched some products over but I plan to take a trip to The Detox Market soon to replace some of the possibly toxic makeup items I am still using because I do not want to take any more risks with this- hormonal imbalance is NO JOKE 🙁 I’ll do a whole blog post and Youtube video for ya so make sure you’re subscribed to my blog and Youtube so you don’t miss out!
Ok, hopefully you’re not on information overload now lol I hope that this blog post helps shed light on your hormones and I really hope that this helps you! Know that you are not alone in fighting this battle, I am right there with you. As always feel free to leave me a comment if you have any questions, and be sure to follow me on Instagram for day to day updates and info! LOVE YOU ALL!