What are hormones?
Hormones are basically chemicals that carry messages from your glands to the cells of tissues and organs in your body. They are also responsible for achieving a state of balance or stability in your body by maintaining proper chemical levels in your bloodstream. The brain creates a signal that causes hormones to be secreted into the bloodstream by the glands that produce and store them. These glands make up what is known as the endocrine system. There are over 30 different hormones that your body produces, and they influence the function of the immune system, and even alter behavior. Before you are born, they guide development of your brain as well as your reproductive system.
What role do hormones play in your body?
Many people associate human growth hormone and DHEA with the aging process, but estrogen, progesterone and testosterone play a major role as well. If the delicate balance of any one of these is disrupted or destroyed, it can take a serious toll on your body…and worst of all, it can mistakenly be attributed as a normal part of aging!
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Let’s look at the main hormones that affect your aging and your health:
Changes in estrogen levels, even as early as peri-menopause causes a disruption in chemicals in our brain. These chemicals include Seratonin, Dopamine and Gaba and are all diminished when estrogen levels decline. These chemicals are critical in maintaining mood, energy levels, sexual function, improving sleep…and decrease stress.
Estrogen’s effect on mood is due to its ability to decreased seratonin levels and endorphins when levels are low. When estrogen levels are balanced women experience a dramatic improvement in mood. Estrogen protects nerves in your brain and encourages the formation of new communications between nerves.
The primary role of estrogen for women is to stimulate growth, sexual characteristics and reproduction. Estrogen is responsible for hundreds of functions in a women’s body, including the very critical role of protecting them from heart disease, colon cancer and strokes. It also is involved with bone growth and cholesterol.
But estrogen is also important for men, now only is it responsible for changes in puberty, including facial and chest hair, but also muscle development…and as men age it helps protect their bones and brain.
Having trouble sleeping? It could be your progesterone levels. Progesterone is vital for regulating sleep for both men and women, as well as boosting the immune system and increasing brain function.
Many women will experience a fluctuation of progesterone levels and these changes lead to the classic aging symptoms, including insomnia, mood swings, and brain fog.
An imbalance of progesterone and estrogen versus a deficiency could be the problem. Progesterone, like estrogen, has causes multiple effects throughout the body. Many of the effects of progesterone can be credited to its ability to counter-balance the action of estrogen. Multiple physical and psychological problems at midlife are often caused by an imbalance between progesterone and estrogen, rather than a specific deficiency.
Known as the male hormone, testosterone imbalances can wreck havoc with both men and women as they age. Testosterone is the principle hormone in a group of hormones called androgens. In men, testosterone stimulates facial and body hair, deepens the voice, increases sex drive and is responsible for sperm production. Regarding aging in men, testosterone contributes energy, memory, muscle mass, strength, mood and sexual stamina and performance.
But women need to keep testosterone balances in check as well. Testosterone in women plays a key role in energy, weight gain, sex drive and mood. Without testosterone, keeping a lean body can be difficult.
DHEA is produced from cholesterol by the adrenal glands. This hormone plays an important role in the creating of the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone, as well as helps the transformation of the body as it grows and matures.
Why DHEA gets so much attention, is because beginning in you late twenties DHEA starts to decline which contributes to the aging process in both men and women. Bye the age of 70 you have lost over 80% of your DHEA. Balancing your DHEA levels can help with obesity, brain fog, dementia, osteoporosis, loss of energy and chronic fatigue.
Why do hormone levels decrease as you age?
To put it bluntly, aging is not supposed to be good for us! Aging is a pre-programmed and genetic process to get us out of the picture, and the reduction of hormones is one of those processes. The truth is, in this day and age, we outlive our hormone supply.
And eating right and exercising helps maintain better levels of some hormones, but it cannot stop age-related hormone loss. Our productions of essential hormones starts to diminish as early as the age 25, and by 80 we have lost 50%-80%. By the age of 50 we have had over 20 years of hormone deficiencies.