Because menopause is defined as 12 months or more without a menstrual cycle, it's easy to assume that once you enter the Big M, hormonal activity - including the ups and downs - is pretty much over. For many women this is the case. But because there is always some level of reproductive hormones left in the body, fluctuations and at least some symptoms can continue for years beyond your last period.
Food allergies and gut issues: An expanding field of new research shows that your gut health plays a significant role in hormone regulation. If you have leaky gut syndrome or a lack of beneficial probiotic bacteria lining your intestinal wall, you’re more susceptible to hormonal problems, including diabetes and obesity. That’s because inflammation usually stems from your gut and then impacts nearly every aspect of your health. (1b)
And like the price of gold, hormones fluctuate. It's normal for hormone levels to shift from time to time. Think about the time before and after your period, as well as pregnancy and menopause. But sometimes, they get out of balance, throwing your body out of whack. Even a small shift can cause big problems. The ebb and flow of hormones can be the cause of weight gain or loss, mood highs or lows, and many other functions of your cells and organs like your kidneys, muscles and heart.
A decrease in estrogen levels during a woman's monthly cycle may trigger mood changes in some women. Some females may reach for comfort foods that are high in fat, calories, sugar, and salt in an effort to feel better. Sadly, eating these foods backfires and makes women feel worse. Sodium increases water retention and bloating.. Sugar, excess fat and calories will lead you to pack on the pounds. Falling estrogen levels also affect leptin, a hormone that inhibits hunger. Combat hormonal weight gain by adopting a healthy diet and exercise plan. Stick to lean meats, healthy fats, complex carbs, whole grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables to help prevent PMS and encourage healthy blood sugar levels and weight loss.
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Before we get into hormonal imbalance, it’s important to talk about what hormones actually are. According to Dr. Patricia Lo, an OB-GYN at MemorialCare Saddleback Medical Center in Laguna Hills, California, hormones are chemical messengers produced by glands in the endocrine system to help coordinate and dictate different body system functions. They also can regulate a whole host of functions, such as metabolism, appetite, sleep, reproductive cycles, sexual function, mood and stress, she tells SheKnows.
DHEA, black cohosh and don quai are all natural supplements which help balance hormone levels. DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is the steroidal precursor to the sex hormones. In men it is converted to testosterone, and in women to estrogen. It is normally produced by the adrenal glands, but can also be taken in supplement form. Black cohosh and don quai are herbs with naturally occurring estrogen, called phytoestrogen. According to Clayton College of Natural Health, black cohosh is used by herbalists to treat menopause, menstrual problems and balance hormones. It increases circulation to reproductive organs and encourages uterine contractions. It should not be taken during pregnancy. Don quai is a Chinese herb used to treat a variety of female hormone-related issues, including menopausal hot flashes, irregular periods, PMS, anxiety and anemia-related weakness. It also increases blood flow to the pelvic region, and should not be taken during pregnancy.
Feeling bloated, irritable, or just not your best? A hormone imbalance could be to blame. Hormones are chemical “messengers” that impact the way your cells and organs function. It’s normal for your levels to shift at different times of your life, such as before and during your period or a pregnancy, or during menopause. But some medications and health issues can cause them to go up or down, too.