I was recently blessed with an opportunity to give a presentation at a benefit for the NRO in Breckenridge, Colorado and would like to share this valuable information with those that were not able to attend (and for those that did and just want a refresher). Understanding how our hormones, stress and nutrition effect us and are are interrelated gives us the key to fresh, beautiful skin and great health in general.
Our bodies rely on hormones for communicating messages to our cells that initiate reactions in our bodies. Our hormones rely on our diet in order to function properly and efficiently. Aging is caused by and results from hormonal imbalances and miscommunication. There are two main concepts to understand if you wish to feel better, look better, and maintain optimal health: how affecting one hormone necessarily affects others and how important diet is for maintaining healthy communication channels.
Let’s start with healthy cell communication. Hormones communicate actions to our cells through our cell membranes. The integrity of our cell membranes is maintained by our diet and nutrition. Essential Fatty Acids (Omega 3’s and 6’s) are important because they not only keep the cell membranes, which are fatty in nature, intact but they also are responsible for Master Hormone Synthesis (meaning, they create the shape and size of the receptor sites for you hormones on the cell membrane). Some hormones sit on the cell membrane and fit into the receptor sites like a lock and key. From there they use a Second Messenger (EFA’s, Calcium, Protein and B Vitamins for example) to convey their message and initiate a reaction from that point. Some hormones as well as Vitamin A and D, pass through the cell membrane where they communicate directly with the nucleus of a cell to initiate a reaction.
Omega 3 and Omega 6 Fatty Acids are not made in our bodies. They must be added through supplements and our food. Once upon a long time ago, the soils that our foods were grown in had higher quantities of vitamins and minerals and therefore, so did our foods. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case. Even the healthiest of eaters will benefit from vitamin, mineral, and EFA supplementation. When you have increased quantities of these supplements, your hormones will again begin to be utilized efficiently and balance out leaving you looking and feeling better in general.
Now when it comes to your hormones, I cannot overemphasize their interconnectedness. Our hormones and body systems work best when they are in balance individually and in relation to one another. There are many things that we do that have a negative impact on this delicate balance. However, knowledge is key! With a basic understanding of how what we do affects our hormones we can elicit changes that will bring our bodies back into balance.
Cortisol is our body’s stress hormone. It is meant to be used in crisis situations to get us through but if used repeatedly over time, can be exhausted which throws us into a state of unhealth. Spikes in our cortisol can be caused by emotional and/or physical stress as well as caffeine and sugar consumption. When our cortisol is continually being spiked, our bodies no longer care about how supple our skin is, how well blood is circulating to non-essential body systems, or our metabolism. Our body only cares about getting us through the crisis of stress so that we can survive. When our cortisol is spiked, our insulin and estrogen are also spiked, which causes a drop in thyroid function.
Estrogen is another critical hormone for our health. It is a molecular shape shared by thousands of chemicals with “estrus” activity (endometrial proliferative). Unfortunately, there are many things in our world that share this molecular shape and can mimic estrogen in our bodies like phyto-estrogens (plant estrogens), xeno-estrogens (from pesticides, plastic residues, parabens, and some sunscreen ingredients), and pharma-estrogens (pharmaceutical compounds). When these “fake” estrogens sit in our receptor sites on our cells, the natural estrogen that our body makes is rejected because there is no room for them. This simultaneously causes our estrogen levels to spike because of the effects of the bombardment of “fake” estrogens on our systems, which then in turn causes our cortisol and insulin levels to spike and cause a drop in our thyroid function.
Insulin is a growth hormone. Controlling insulin is key to health and anti-aging. When we consume sugary foods (especially fructose and galactose) and simple carbohydrates that are converted to sugar we cause a spike in our insulin levels. Constant insulin spiking stress results in our bodies forming AGE’s (Advanced Glycolsilating End products) beyond normal levels. This results in inflammation and hardening of our collagen and elastin (AGE-ing). It also results in insulin resistance issues and growth such as skin tags, cysts, fibroids and weight gain. When our insulin is spiked, our estrogen and cortisol are also spiked, which causes a drop in thyroid function.
Lastly, our Thyroid (which manufactures Thyroxine) is responsible for our metabolism. The thyroid gland requires iodine in order to make thyroxine. Most packaged foods and table salt are completely deficient in iodine. If you combine a lack of nutritional iodine with spikes in our estrogen, insulin, and cortisol you end up with a malfunctioning thyroid. Over time, this lowered thyroid function can result in Hypothyroidism.
Sounds overwhelming right? Wrong!
If you take anything away from this article let it be this: You have control over your body and your hormones! Evaluating your diet, your stressors, and your supplements and making appropriate changes can result in a lifetime of happiness in your body. Making sure that you are getting plenty of EFA’s, vitamins (in the proper forms), minerals in your diet and avoiding false estrogens from pesticides, plastics, unfiltered water, and “health and beauty” products can have serious benefits to your overall health and hormonal balance. When your hormones are functioning properly and you are supplementing with things that help with cell communication your body will be able to devote more and more energy into other body functions like keeping your skin soft and supple, balancing out your skin’s oil production, reducing breakouts, and keeping your collagen and elastin from cross-linking and wrinkling. You are the master of your body and beautiful skin comes from within!
-Author, Karyn Blanco 2012