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5 Things That Might be Messing up Your Hormones

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Your body produces over fifty different types of hormones that carry out countless essential functions to keep you alive and well. Making sure all fifty are produced, secreted, processed, and stored properly on a daily basis is, well, easier said than done. 

Imbalances happen. But with the right environment and resources, you can quickly bounce back. Unfortunately, an environment or lifestyle that consistently sabotages your hormones paves the way for stubborn hormone-related health issues.

The first step toward healthy hormone balance is understanding what causes an imbalance in the first place. Here are the top five things that disrupt hormone balance and how to set them right. 

5 Things that Affect Your Hormone Balance 

1. Toxins & Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals

While manufacturers use chemicals to make products more affordable and convenient, they take a toll on our health—especially when it comes to hormone balance. 

Many common toxins are considered EDCs, or endocrine-disrupting chemicals because they alter the way our hormones act. Some EDCs also mimic our natural hormones, sending the body into a state of confusion and imbalance. The most common EDCs are phthalates, pesticides, parabens, and plasticizers (like BPA).

While you can’t avoid all toxins all the time, there are some lifestyle habits you can adopt to reduce your toxic load. Limit your exposure to EDCs as much as possible by using natural products. Swap plastic products with metal or glass, artificial fragrances with essential oils, synthetic fabrics with linen or organic cotton, and conventional household cleaning products with non-toxic homemade alternatives.

2. Pollution  

Air pollution is a growing problem in many places, especially bustling cities. Most people know about the negative effects of pollution and smog on your lungs and skin, but did you know that pollution can impact your hormones, too?

Unfortunately, breathing this dirty air exposes your body to many EDCs that have been linked to a range of hormone issues, such as menstrual irregularities and poor sperm quality.

Pollution also alters how the body responds to stress. Studies show that increased exposure to pollution is linked to increased levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. If you live in a high-pollution area, this could mean that you’re more likely to experience high stress and more physical side effects (like pain, headaches, brain fog, sleep disturbances, systemic inflammation, and more).

Reduce your exposure to pollution by avoiding high-traffic areas and wearing a mask to reduce the amount of EDCs you inhale. Take the path less traveled on your way to work, school, or errands. Walk tree-lined neighborhoods and spend as much time as possible out in nature to breathe in the fresh air. 

3. Poor Sleep

Missing out on good quality sleep? Along with feeling groggy and grumpy, you could also be suffering from hormone imbalances.

Studies show that our circadian rhythm is closely linked to hormone balance. As our hormones fluctuate in response to light and dark, or stimulation and relaxation, the body activates different hormones. If you’re not sleeping well, your body will produce more of certain hormones, and less of others. Not only does this throw all your hormones off balance, but it also perpetuates the vicious cycle!

The simplest way to improve your sleep quality is to swap nighttime screen time with a screen-free wind-down routine. Our devices are one of the most elusive culprits preventing us from getting good quality sleep because screen time exposes the brain to high amounts of blue light. Blue light shuts down melatonin production and prevents sleep. Even if you wear blue light blockers, you are still subject to sleep-sabotaging stimulation from using your device.

Instead of relaxing with your favorite TV show or social media binge, do screen-free activities that naturally calm the mind and prepare the body for rest. 

4. Fad Diets & Extreme Exercise

Fad diets and extreme exercise regimens promise fast results—but at what cost? The truth is, these extreme measures may give you a quick win, but they wreck your hormone balance and sabotage your metabolism in the long run.

Studies show that nearly all types of restrictive diets have a damaging effect on proper hormone balance. Restricting calories or fat can damage your metabolic balance, which makes it harder for you to maintain a healthy weight in the future.

Extreme exercise has similar effects. High-intensity workouts increase stress hormone production and reduce sex hormone production. This causes reproductive issues in both men (poor sperm quality and low libido) and women (missing periods and infertility).

You can achieve a healthy weight without unsafe measures. Leave the fad diets and extreme workouts behind and follow a balanced, nutritious diet that provides your body with the nutrients it needs to maintain a healthy hormone balance. 

5. Stress

Hormones drive the stress response and vice versa, which is why high stress is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to hormone-related issues like infertility, menstrual irregularities, weight gain, thyroid conditions, and sleep trouble.

We release cortisol and adrenaline when we’re under stress. These hormones help us think smarter and act faster in a critical moment. After the stress passes, they should return to baseline levels so the body can continue functioning as normal.

With chronic stress, however, cortisol levels never fall back to baseline. The imbalance then throws off the normal regulation of other key hormones for health, like sex hormones, insulin, and thyroid hormone. This is why fertility and metabolic issues are so commonly linked to high-stress lifestyles.

Stress is a natural part of life. But without balance and stress release, this natural mental and physical response becomes problematic. Keeping your stress levels under control is an essential self-care habit for restoring a healthy hormone balance. Find your calm through meditation, exercise, evening baths, and CBD supplements.

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