In the November 2001 issue, I talked about environmental toxins, free radicals and parasites and how they affect optimal health, longevity and the aging process; another component is balanced hormones. As women, we are very complex. We produce
several hormones including estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. The term “estrogen” is used to collectively describe three hormones–estradiol, the most powerful, estrone and estriol. Estradiol can be converted into estrone and both can be converted into estriol. The estrogens play an important role in bone formation and to protect against osteoporosis, as well as protecting the heart from cardiovascular disease and influences behavior and mood.
As we age, our hormones change. By the time we reach our late thirties, early forties, we may be experiencing “perimenopause.” Perimenopause is the time leading up to and immediately following menopause. Subtle to dramatic physiological changes may result in symptoms such as hot flashes, insomnia, decreased libido, mood swings, fluid retention, increased blood clots, headaches and weight gain. These symptoms are the result of a rapid decline of the number of eggs in the ovaries and ovulation becomes irregular which causes erratic hormone levels. A balance between estrogen and progesterone will help decrease the fluctuating hormones as well as the physical and emotional symptoms.
A decreased production of progesterone contributes to many of the symptoms. Natural hormonal supplements will help balance the entire system. Progesterone cream applied to areas on the extremities and stomach will support normal functioning. Progesterone facilitates thyroid hormone action, restores libido, normalizes blood sugar levels and blood clots, helps use fat for energy and protects against breast and endometrial cancers.
Environmental estrogens is another detriment. These environmental toxins are structurally similar to estrogen and have the ability to mimic harmful estrogens in the body. These include aromatic hydrocarbons and organochlorines found in pesticides, herbicides, plastics, refrigerants and industrial solvents. Also, the hormones used to fatten livestock and promote milk production may be unknowingly ingested when consuming meat and milk products. These lifestyle and environmental factors do influence the hormone burden. Proper nutrition will help combat these risk factors.
A diet high in fiber with complex carbohydrates including fruits and vegetables with proper exercise is very beneficial to balanced hormones. Adequate protein and fat will combat hormone-dependent cancers. Vitamins such as E, magnesium, B6 and 12 and isoflavones including soy and lignans such as flaxseed and legumes are all very beneficial in reducing disease.
Optimizing our health by educating ourselves is the best medicine. Eliminating environmental toxins and parasites, combating free radicals and balancing our hormones will lead us to the “fountain of youth!”