How Stress Harms Your Hormones & Quick Tips to Reignite Your Drive and Passion for Life

Estrogen and TestosteroneWith spring in the air (finally), our little furry and feathery friends are coming out of hiding. Spring fever and pheromone levels are now on the rise amongst our woodland friends great and small.

Are you feeling the excitement?

Or, are the playful little squirrels and happy birds a reminder that your passion for life isn’t what it used to be?

A few weeks ago, I was enjoying reading through my various newsletters and journals in my geeked-out fashion. I came across a wonderful interview by Dr. Mercola with Dr. Hertoghe discussing the power of positive lifestyle choices (diet, exercise, stress modulation) to alleviate many symptoms or diseases and re-balance hormones (1).

“Wow, great blog topic in alignment with empowering my BreakFree friends to better health,” I thought.

So, I bookmarked his article and started brainstorming and collecting some examples of how the choices we make daily have a profound effect on our health.

Below is a quick review of some basic factors that affect hormonal output. Following that is a checklist of tips to put into play before you move into more invasive protocols.

Hormonal Balance Impact 101

1. The Booty Move and Shut Eye Effect

The importance of movement, sleep, and the fountain of youth hormone is paramount.

Exercise and sleep increase the release of human growth hormone (HGH). HGH levels naturally decline with age. Optimal levels are associated with maintaining optimal weight and vitality (2).

2. Stress-Gotta Go Now!

stress or relaxStress impacts your body and hormones in a lot of ways

A. The bathroom break and “Pillsbury Doughboy” phenomenon

Did you know that stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline have an effect on the bladder and fluid balance? Before I go into some direct hormonal links, I wanted to talk about this common condition of urinary health and fluid balance that is often glazed over.

There exists a complex feedback between stress and the release of the hormones aldosterone and vasopressin, which regulate water balance and blood pressure.  Initially, blood pressure can increase and cause fluid retention. The result is that uncomfortable “pop me with a pin to release these swollen ankles” feeling.

However, the depletion of minerals with long-term stress can also cause urinary frequency and low blood pressure making you feel dizzy as you run to the bathroom for the umpteenth time (3).

B. Hormonal Harmony

Stress negatively impacts thyroid, estrogen, and progesterone levels and contributes to hypothyroidism, and a lowering of estrogen and testosterone. It can also result in a higher estrogen-progesterone ratio.

This causes:

1. a lot of uncomfortable menstrual issues for women and decreases libido in men and women alike.

2. poor memory and an increased risk for dementia in women (7)

By the way, stress also makes everyone feel stupid by interacting with the memory region of our brain. So guys, you don’t escape this one.

3. an increase in blood sugar, which can cause insulin resistance, cravings, and weight gain with or without a food binge. Think “muffin top.”

C. Mood Regulation and Bonding

Long term stress can cause depression and anxiety disorders. Besides depleting progesterone and interfering with its calming impact on the neurotransmitter GABA, the stimulation of stress receptors can directly impact mood. In fact, a recent study proposed the potential role of biochemically manipulating certain stress receptors as a new treatment prescription for depression (4). Another recent study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, demonstrated that increased levels of the hormone cortisol in saliva samples were linked to a higher risk for depression in young teenage boys (5).

Furthermore, lowered levels of hormones as a result of stress can deplete oxytocin. Oxytocin mediates bonding, sexual behavior, and social connection in females. This means a high stress day for a woman will make her want to push her honey away (8-9).

Hopefully, many of you have taken advantage of my FREE 12 page guide to harmonizing hormones when you subscribed to our BreakFree Medicine community. It goes into more detail about how our hormones impact all our body’s functions. This is why caring for your body with the simple foundations of health can have implications on hormonal balance and your overall wellness.

sub_btnIf you missed out, I’ve provided some of the tips to keep our hormones healthy for as long as possible. Click here to read how.

References:

(1) Mercola, J. The Links Between Your Diet and Hormone Levels, and How Estrogen May Protect You Against Dementia. mercola.com.February 23, 2014.

(2) Godfrey, R, Madgwick, Z, Whyte, GP. The exercise-induced growth hormone response in athletes (abstract). Sports Med. 2003;33(8):599-613. PMID: 12797841

(3) Randall, M. The Physiology of Stress: Cortisol and the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis. Dartmouth Undergraduate Journal of Science. Fall 2010. February 3, 2011

(4) Mackin, P, Young, A. The Role of Cortisol and Depression: Exploring New Opportunities for Treatments. Psychiatric Times. May 4, 2010.

(5) Whitwman, H. First Biomarker for Depression Discovered in Young Boys. Medical News Today. February 18, 2014.

(6) McCarthy MM. Estrogen modulation of oxytocin and its relation to behavior. Adv Exp Med Biol. 1995;395:235-45.

(7) University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. Study helps deconstruct estrogen’s role in memory. ScienceDaily. Accessed March 10, 2014

(8) Ellis, M. Oxytocin-The Monogamy Hormone? Medical News Today. November 26, 2013.

(9) M. I. Boulware, J. D. Heisler, K. M. Frick. The Memory-Enhancing Effects of Hippocampal Estrogen Receptor Activation Involve Metabotropic Glutamate Receptor Signaling. Journal of Neuroscience, 2013; 33 (38): 15184 DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1716-13.2013

Images courtesy of istockphotos: istockphoto.com