Today we’re talking about hormones basics.

First of all, what are hormones?

Hormones are chemical messengers that communicate with tissues and organs throughout your body via your bloodstream.

Every hormone is crucial to proper bodily function. There are upwards of fifty hormones that serve a unique function in our body, but today we’re focusing on just six that can make or break out day to day lives.

Those hormones are: cortisol, estrogen, insulin, progesterone, testosterone, and thyroid hormones.

CORTISOL


Cortisol can be best thought of as our stress hormone. When under stress, our adrenal glands start producing more cortisol, causing an adrenaline rush, to prepare your body for what is ahead. In doing so, our blood pressure rises, along with our glucose levels so we have expendable energy at disposal.

As you can imagine, this is useful short term, however sustained stress means your cortisol levels can’t regulate, leading to appetite and digestion issues, inflammation, insulin resistance, poor sleep, and loss of energy.

ESTROGEN


Estrogen is one of two sex hormones in women, although to be clear, men also have estrogen, just in lower amounts. Estrogen is produced primarily in the ovaries, with adrenal glands and fat tissues serving as secondary sources. The primary function for this hormone is to regulate menstrual cycles, while also impacting cholesterol levels, cognition, bone and cardiovascular health.

In addition to this, estrogen is responsible for managing physical changes including egg growth, vaginal wall and uterus mucous membrane, and breast tissue growth.

PROGESTERONE


Progesterone is the second sex hormone, produced similarly to estrogen, and also from the placenta during pregancy. This hormone is equally important for the regulation of menstrual cycles, secreting proteins to prepare the endometrium for egg growth and fertilization in the second half of the cycle. If conception does not happen, both progesterone and estrogen levels drop, triggering menstruation.

TESTOSTERONE


Testosterone is usually associated with men, however it is still produced and present in women. For men it is produced in the testicles, and for women it is produced in the ovaries, as well as adrenal glands, fat and skin cells.

While for men it has implications to body fat, bone density, hair growth, muscle growth, sex drive, and production of sperm and red blood cells, however, it acts differently in women, because some is actively converted to estrogen. For women contributes to regulation of bone and breast health, fertility, menstrual health, sex drive, and vaginal health.

THYROID HORMONE


There are two types of thyroid hormones, triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). Both are produced in the thyroid gland which is a 2 inch long, butterfly shaped gland in your neck. This is triggered by the hypothalamus and pituitary gland located in the brain.

When T3 and T4 levels drop, the hypothalamus signals the pituitary gland, which stimulates the thyroid gland to begin converting iodine to hormones.

These circulate through your bloodstream to every cell in your body and contribute to regulating heart rate and metabolism. As your levels drop, you can experience a reduced heart rate and rate of digestion, potentially leading to weight gain. As your levels rise, you can experience an increased or irregular heart rate and rapid digestion, which can lead to unhealthy weight loss.

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