(From Forever Health)
Hormone imbalances can occur in men and women of almost any age.(1) A variety of factors can be related to these imbalances, including high insulin levels from diets high in refined foods and sugar, exposure to environmental toxins (xenoestrogens), high consumption of hydrogenated fats, and lack of physical activity leading to weight gain.(2-5)
Age is also a factor in reduced levels of hormones, creating feelings of imbalance in everyday pursuits. For example, testosterone levels in women begin going down after age 20. By age 40 a woman’s testosterone level will be half of what it was when she was 20 years old. This is why getting hormone levels checked even while in your 20′s may be necessary if you aren’t feeling yourself. For women between the ages of 40–60, testosterone levels can remain pretty constant. After menopause testosterone declines once again.(1)
How can you help hormones maintain balance?
The food you choose to eat can have a major impact on your health. If your diet is high in sugar, processed carbohydrates, hydrogenated fats, genetically modified foods, and conventional beef, dairy, and poultry, then you are more susceptible to obesity and all the associated diseases, plus an increase in hormone imbalances.(6-11) It’s important to maintain a healthy weight, as storing excess fat can lead to hormone imbalances and an increase in stored environmental toxins. Toxins have a negative impact on overall health and should be avoided at all ages of life, especially during pregnancy where the developing baby can carry the negative impact the rest of its life.(12-15)
Physical activity is important to hormone balance, not to mention overall health and a good mental state. Exercise helps to keep cortisol levels low and also helps maintain hormone balance by reducing the level of cortisol in the body and sustaining serum insulin levels. Cortisol levels can become significantly high when the body is experiencing stress, either real or imagined.(17) Exercise helps counter the effects of stress and regular moderate exercise can lower cortisol levels.(18-20) Moderate exercise for 30 to 60 minutes each day can have a profound effect on hormone balance.(21-23)
Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) can balance hormone levels that become upset or deficient through lifestyle habits and aging. Unlike conventional HRT (HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY – that uses synthetic hormones that are not the same as the hormones that your body produces), BHRT is derived from plant sources and are exactly similar to the hormones your body secretes and circulates.(24-26) Since the bio-identical hormones are recognized in the body, they are effectively assimilated and used. BHRT replenishes the body with the healthy hormone levels your body needs to function optimally. Forms of BHRT include progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone.
Blood tests are taken to determine hormone levels. If there is a deficiency or imbalance, BHRT is recommended to safely balance hormone levels. Restoring hormone balance can provide greater protection from chronic diseases and alleviate menopausal symptoms. Saliva testing of hormonal levels is used by some practitioners, but peer-reviewed studies from saliva testing are not nearly as prevalent. Serum hormone studies show the ideal levels to reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers.
Compounding pharmacies specialize in producing BHRT. Doses are determined on an individual basis and available in different administrations (topical, oral, sublingual, etc.). A few studies show that topical BHRT has a better safety profile than the orthodox oral HRT.(27-29) It is important to note that most physicians are not trained in prescribing BHRT and they may be unfamiliar with the medical literature that supports this treatment. Fortunately, there are physicians specializing in age-management medicine who can help you determine which BHRT treatments are best for you.
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