Symptoms of hormonal imbalance are more prevalent than ever before. Young ladies with PMS, women struggling through the mid-life transition of menopause, young men with no sex drive and older men with no motivation. These are all symptoms of hormonal imbalance. This condition is so common that clinics are popping up everywhere claiming to help balance hormones.
Why is there such a need for doctors to help re-balance hormones? Wait! Before you answer that question, you might want to ask, “Am I at risk of developing symptoms of hormonal imbalance?” With one deafening word I can answer this question. YES! You are going to develop symptoms. Most of the reason is because of the foods you are choosing. Once you learn what foods are causing your hormonal imbalances, visiting a doctor to help balance your hormones won’t be as necessary.
Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance
Symptoms of hormonal imbalance have a funny way of sneaking up on you. Your friends and coworkers start avoiding you because you seem more edgy all the time. Your spouse is noticing that you cannot remember things as well, and if you are honest with yourself, you notice it also. Your desire for the opposite sex is as present as a snow storm in the middle of the summer. Before you know it, you are in the full troughs of hormonal imbalance with no idea how you got there. The days of adequate energy and stable moods are nothing more than a memory. Does this sound like you? If it does, you are not alone. And the thought that it seemed to hit you all of a sudden . . . well it turns out there is some legitimacy to that. More on that to come.
What’s on Your Fork is Causing Your Hormonal Imbalances
It might not seem so obvious that the reason your hormones are out of balance could be because of the food choices you are making. Food is directly related to balancing hormones. In short, if you eat a Paleo Diet, full of vegetables and fruits and some nuts and lean meats, you are far less likely to have symptoms of hormonal imbalances. However, if you are eating foods that are refined, boxed, and look nothing like what you find in the produce section of the grocery store or at the local farmer’s market, it is almost certain that you are going to be labeled “the person that should get their hormones checked”. Unfortunately, if you are this person, I am going to be the barer of bad news and tell you that it is even worse.
The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
You know the story of the wolf in sheep’s clothing. The wolf pretends to be the sheep and part of the natural flock, only to surprise the flock by devastatingly attacking the sheep. Seems pretty gruesome, right. The truth is that it is not that different than the weed killer (herbicide) glyphosate that can be found in your foods. It is supposed to help grow better crops with no effect on humans. Supposedly! Turns out that assumption was wrong and it directly affects your hormones. In men, it can increase estrogen. In women, it can lead to an imbalance of the two primary female hormones, estrogen and progesterone. Simply, it is going to accelerate you toward the label of the “crazy hormone” person.
Glyphosate truly is the wolf in sheep’s clothing. It continues to be pushed as a safe product, even for routine use around your home. Excellent! Now you can get poisoned from the eating foods that are part of the standard American diet as well as taking care of your lawn. Turns out, ingestion in only one way that you can disrupt your hormones with glyphosate. It can also be inhaled. As a water soluble compound, it can easily blend in with your body tissues and become a real problem with hormone disruption being only the tip of the iceberg. Think I am exaggerating. Ask all the farmers and their families in central America that developed Chronic Kidney Disease of unknown origin what their opinion is. My guess is that the symptoms of hormonal imbalance are the least of the concerns they will tell you to worry about.
Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance from Out of Nowhere
You will recall earlier that I shared how symptoms of hormonal imbalance can seem to creep in without warning. Well turns out, in humans, that is the presentation of glyphosate. It continues to accumulate and cause undetectable levels of problems. However, at some point, the last drop of water is going to fall into the bucket causing it to begin to spill over. This is the same story for glyphosate. It continues to accumulate until at some point your body cannot clear it out fast enough. When this happens, here come the symptoms, including hormonal imbalances.
What Can You Do
Not all is hopeless. First and foremost, you need to acknowledge that glyphosate is a problem. There is a growing body of evidence casting a larger and larger shadow on glyphosate, and therefore the “foods” that are sprayed with glyphosate. It is rather logical to see why the legislation that was passed allowing for food manufactures to circumvent the necessity to label GMO foods was called the “Dark Act”. Once you accept this truth, you have taken the first step. Unfortunately, accepting that the most common foods in the standard American diet are the problem is not easy. However, before you question the legitimacy of the connection between these foods being sprayed with glyphosate and symptoms of hormone imbalances, you should ask yourself why all chronic diseases continue to be on the rise while our food supply drifts further and further away from what is our ideal diet.
If you are not sure what your ideal diet should be, I have a resource that is going to make transitioning back to the foods that are going to help resolve your hormonal symptoms much easier. If you are a man and want to “be a man” again, or ladies, if you have the desire to return to your youthful, vibrant self again, you have to grab your copy of the Definitive Paleo Immersion Shopping Guide.
Diet is the core concept of health.
There are a lot of topics that I discuss with my patients but one of those topics I bring up most often. And I wouldn’t be surprised if I was driving them crazy with how much I discuss it. But it’s important, I keep bringing it up because it is for their benefit, their health. I feel it’s important they know. It would be on me if they don’t know, and I wouldn’t be doing my job if I weren’t telling them and reminding them. It is the core of their makeup and it determines how they feel and function on a daily basis. I am referring to none other than diet, the core concept of health. And when I say diet I don’t mean diet as in lose some weight diet, but rather diet as in the things you eat on a daily basis, your daily diet.
The Paleo diet and the media.
Recently I’m sure you have heard some things about the Paleo diet in the media. The thing that bothers me about that is that the Paleo Diet is being portrayed as a “diet” and being lumped together with Atkins, the sprinkles, Weight Watchers etc. Although those diets may or may not be effective, the Paleo Diet is not a diet. You don’t start eating Paleo to lose weight (although it is a nice side effect). The Paleo Diet is a diet as in a way of eating for the rest of your life. I often refer to the Paleo Diet as the Paleo Lifestyle, because that is what it is, it’s a lifestyle, it’s permanent. So while I do appreciate all of the attention the Paleo Diet is getting lately in the media, when seeing or hearing anything about it, keep in mind, it’s not a diet, it’s a way of eating and living.
The Paleo Diet
You may say to yourself, “this guy is on a crusade with this diet talk.” The truth is that I am really not. I am not the “banner carrier” for any particular movement or diet. I am a promoter of truth and like it or not, the Paleo Diet is truth. When I say that it is truth, what I am in fact saying is that the Paleo Diet is the closest dietary pattern that aligns with how our body functions. Routine consumption of the Paleo Diet is able to be maintained indefinitely without concern for any ill effects to health or difficulties in maintaining it. In fact, it does just the opposite. Those that transition to the Paleo diet see great improvements in their health as well as find it easy to maintain.
The Paleo diet and the media.
Recently I’m sure you have heard some things about the Paleo diet in the media. The thing that bothers me about that is that the Paleo Diet is being portrayed as a diet it is being lumped together with Atkins, the sprinkles, Weight Watchers etc. The Paleo Diet is not a diet, you don’t start eating Paleo to lose weight (although it is a nice side effect). The Paleo Diet is a diet as in a way of eating for the rest of your life. I often refer to the Paleo Diet as the Paleo Lifestyle, because that is what it is, it’s a lifestyle, it’s permanent. So while I do appreciate all of the attention the Paleo Diet is getting, when seeing or hearing anything about it, keep in mind, it’s not a diet, it’s a way of eating and living.
This is why the Paleo Diet is such a natural fit for functional medicine. The focus of functional medicine is restoring the normal function of the body with precursors that it needs. Nothing is more central to this idea than diet. Eat the wrong foods and your diet works against you damaging your health. However, if you eat the right foods, your body maintains its function and you stay youthful and vibrant.
The best foundation is getting the right nutrients
When working with my patients initially, I am placing significant emphasis on getting the right nutrients in them and modifying their diet to meet their needs. This is a core concept in functional medicine. After all, if my patients are not starting off with a good foundation, how can they expect to get better? That foundation centers on the Paleo Diet. It provides the basis from which everything else can improve. Once the foundation is established, healing can take place.
Traditional medicine overlooks diet.
Functional medicine is a far different mindset than traditional medicine. Traditional medicine has long neglected the concept of food being core to healthcare. You can see this in the way that it is practiced daily. In routine clinical care, food is not a part of the treatment model. At best, mention is given to changing the diet with little instruction as to what that actually is. I see patients coming into my clinic having realized that their diet is central to their health and needs to change, but not having an idea of where to start.
After years of medical evolution, here those of us that are on the cutting edge of healthcare find ourselves having come full circle using the best medical technology to reinforce the basics such as diet.
“If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.”
“An old-fashioned vegetable soup, without any enhancement, is a more powerful anti carcinogen than any known medicine.”
– James Duke M.D.(U.S.D.A.)
The new wave of medicine
I’d be surprised if you haven’t heard of Functional Medicine. It’s quickly on the rise and becoming the preferred method for healthcare by more and more people. I have been practicing Functional Medicine for over 10 years now, and I am happy to say that all the attention it is finally getting is very well deserved. Finally people are starting to realize that treating the underlying problem, what is causing your symptoms, is better and more logical than just slapping a “band aid” on the problem. Functional medicine is the new wave of medicine, and it’s not just for internal issues but also for muscle and joint issues as well.
Time for change
Let me introduce you to the concept of functional medicine just in case you are not familiar with it. The concept is so simple it is hard to believe everyone does not think this way in healthcare. I bet if you ask a hundred people on the streets here in the Houston area, not one of them would know what you are talking about. How can that be? How is it that there is a changing paradigm in healthcare happening around you and you don’t know about it? It is not your fault, but rather ingrained models of healthcare that are ready for a change. You can imagine in a city with a medical center as well recognized as Houston, change might come slow.
What is Functional medicine?
Functional medicine is the idea of providing the body the constituents that it needs to allow it to function as God intended it to. When the necessary precursors are given to the body, the biological systems will work as they should. Such constituents might be as simple as antioxidants and minerals, but nonetheless they are what is required for normal physiologic function. The end result is that allowing the systems of the body to carry out their role provides a restoration of function. When function is restored, the symptoms that manifested are alleviated.
Medicine is usually just a band aid.
Functional medicine is a different mindset than traditional medicine. Patient symptoms and complaints drive the majority of healthcare. The burden on the healthcare system is not derived from acute injuries, but from chronic conditions. Chronic ailments are a manifestation of a change in function of the body. With this change come symptoms. Classic approaches to symptoms have revolved around masking the symptoms with medication or the use of surgery to remove the offending problem. These approaches to medicine, while necessary in some case, don’t often address the underlying issue.
Functional medicine gets to the root of the symptom. The underlying cause.
In contrast, functional medicine looks at the symptom in a much different manner. The symptom is the alarm. Something is wrong and action needs to be taken. When patients present with a symptom, as a practicing functional medicine doctor, I begin to ask why. Why does a person have joint pain? I may determine that it is due to dysfunctional muscles that need support. Why are the cholesterol levels going up? A possible explanation for my patient might be that their stress is on the rise causing an increased demand for cholesterol to support hormone production.
Functional medicine is the way healthcare should be.
Having decided to become a functional medicine doctor means that I have also decided to think out side of the box. It’s in my nature. I just have to know and determine why. Rather than being restricted and limited to the algorithms of traditional healthcare, I decided to brand myself as a doctor my patients can trust and rely on to get to the root of the problem, one that will take the time to look at the whole picture and listen carefully to what patients are telling me. I also spend a lot of time with each patient usually 45 minutes to an hour. It’s important to hear what patients are saying to me so that I can accurately test them, assess their needs them and design a comprehensive protocol that specifically fits their needs. One size does not fit all. So you see, the movement has already begun. Functional medicine, is being backed by more and more research, and will become increasingly established as part of the medical system, even in cities with medical traditions such as Houston.
Are you lacking in testosterone?
Discussion about testosterone appears to be everywhere in the news these days. Some of the information suggesting the benefits of testosterone while other reports vilifies the same substance. The data can be conflicting depending on the reports you read. How can this be? Is testosterone good or bad? Testosterone has come to light for a reason. The fact is that many individuals are low in testosterone. Typically the conversation is directed towards men. However, I often see women low in testosterone also. We will revisit this point later. Low testosterone tends to affect men more significantly and thus most of the attention is placed on them. However, with such varying opinions about the use of testosterone and what levels are adequate, we must ask, what do we really know about testosterone?
Why do we need testosterone?
It’s not just testosterone we have to think of
What you eat matters
The Paleo Diet
It’s shocking how many people complain of being fatigued.. I cannot tell you how many times my patients have told me that they are tired. And it’s not like thy are saying it because they exerted themselves and now they are tired, no they are indicating that this is ongoing from morning until night. The people that do not permanently feel lethargic, can at least pinpoint exactly in day day when they start feeling fatigued. And typically I will hear of these times being mid morning or mid afternoon. There are too many people complaining of fatigue for this not to be a real problem. there has to be a reason.
How is Fatigue categorized?
In reality, there are many reasons for fatigue. If you look at the symptoms for many diseases, fatigue is often in that list. The people walking around with fatigue don’t have a named condition. Named conditions often have medications associated with them. There is no medication for fatigue. As much marketing as pharmaceutical companies place on their product, they don’t advertise for a medication to address fatigue. Fatigue can be elusive. It falls into the gray area of healthcare as a subclinical condition. You know something is wrong, but standard methods can’t define it.
Functional medicine can help pin point fatigue
In situations such as this, functional medicine has its merit. The idea is that regardless of whether dysfunction has manifested into a named condition or not, the abnormal metabolic activity needs to be addressed. In doing so, normal function returns and symptoms abate. In the case of fatigue, functional medicine is the gold standard approach. When I apply functional medicine to patients looking for more energy, I am looking for what might be impediments to energy production. The more common findings include such things as nutrient deficiencies, increased inflammation, blood sugar disturbances and hormonal imbalances.
To get to the cause of fatigue, it has to be thought about in a functional manner, not as a symptom. When we trace energy production through specific pathways, breakdowns in these pathways are quickly isolated using functional medicine testing. Once testing isolates the area of concern, action can be taken to enhance metabolic function. A good example of this would be a nutrient deficiency. Let’s take B5 as our example. To push carbohydrates from our diet, in the form of glucose, to become an energy molecule, B5 is needed at many points. Repletion of B5 is necessary in cases such as this and often energy levels are regained. But how often would a non-functional medicine doctor order such tests? They probably would not. Furthermore, would they ask the question of why you had the B5 deficiency? It could be any number of reasons from infection to an increased need for hormone production.
What you are feeling is real, don’t ignore it.
The bottom line when it comes to addressing fatigue is that if you are not going to find the answers you seek without functional medicine. The standard approaches are going to leave you with more questions than answers. I see this with new patients routinely. Fatigue is a real thing. You are not imaging what you are feeling and have confidence when I tell you that there are many others out their dealing with the same exhaustion that you are feeling. However, take comfort, there is hope and there is a solution to feeling more energetic and it begins with functional medicine.
Assessing thyroid problems
Everywhere you go you hear someone talk about their thyroid problems, you may have them yourself. I bet if you asked some people you know, you would find quite a that are taking hormones for their thyroid. Usually you will hear about medications like; Synthroid and Levothyroxine. While checking patients charts and paperwork they bring in, I’ll see this particular class of medications the most. Because I was seeing this so often I started asking myself, if all of these people could really have hyperthyroidism? Or could there be a reason their thyroids are acting this way.. So I started asking my patients exactly how their thyroid dysfunction was being monitored. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the full complexity of the thyroids dysfunction was not being looked at or treated.
Diagnosis and treatment with traditional medicine
Standard approaches to thyroid management begin, and often end, with the hormone TSH. TSH influences the thyroid glands output of hormone, but provides no insight into how the gland itself is functioning. On occasion, thyroxine, also known as T4, is measured. This is the hormone produced by the gland. At this point, you may be thinking what else would you need? While this is not a bad start, it only scratches the surface of total thyroid function. In fact, active thyroid hormone is not considered when only looking at TSH and thyroxine. Yet, if traditional medicine is your choice of care, this is what you are limited to, even in some specialty clinics. Worse, the underlying causes of having abnormal TSH and thyroxine are ignored. The blanket solution becomes hormone.
The difference with Functional medicine
What are you supposed to do? Before you realized it you are tangled in the web of being told nothing is wrong when in reality thyroid dysfunction exists. Or maybe your story is different. Your levels are out of range and you are taking replacement thyroid hormone, yet feel no different. Know that if this is where you find yourself, you are not alone. You have received the standard of care. However, the standard of care ignores functional medicine.
Functional Medicine goes a step further
When functional medicine is employed in thyroid management, the assessment does not end at the gland or on a test report only looking at thyroxine. TSH and thyroxine are starting points. Understanding bodily function and biochemistry is a cornerstone of functional medicine and its ability to address underlying causes of dysfunction. In the case of the thyroid, many systems beyond the gland require consideration. These include the role of the liver in converting thyroxine to active thyroid hormone T3. There is also the effect of other glands such as the kidneys and gastrointestinal tract. Beyond this, other hormones and nutrients play a role as does the immune system. All of these areas interacting together constitute normal thyroid function, not the thyroid gland and the hormones TSH and thyroxine acting in isolation.
When choosing functional medicine you can find what is really making your thyroid dysfunctional. It’s time to stop using a band aid and start getting to the root of the problem, so that you can honestly find out how to get your thyroid physiology functions back to normal with out just focusing on the gland itself. f you are like so the so many people I see in my practice, that always have to have their hormone levels manipulated, then your main problem is probably not just your thyroid, but a secondary problem that is making your thyroid act the way it does. If this is you, it’s time to turn to functional medicine and treat the root of the problem and not just the symptoms!
The Affordable Care Act
For a long time now we have known that we need a change in Healthcare. It seems more people are getting sicker, and that increases the demand on services and its getting harder to pay for these services. And now we have the the Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare, which promises to insure a new paradigm in medicine. The one thing the new healthcare law has in common with the current administration of medicines, is that they are both designed to alleviate symptoms rather than treating the underlying problem.
Sick care or Wellness??
Our state of healthcare has many many problems, the the problem that stands out the most is that people are treated for being sick. “Sick care”. When we need to be focused on “Wellness”. This is just one of the reasons that the new healthcare system will do very little to fix you health problems. The idea of the new legislation is to make care available to everyone. In theory, this is a good idea, but follows the way of socialized medicine, which by all accounts is a system patients do not want to be seen in. Moreover, clinicians are limited in their ability to deliver care in such a system due to restrictive guidelines. The question must be asked, “What kind of care are we talking about delivering?” The emphasis of a doctor visit is to attend to your immediate needs, not guide your health down a path of wellness. How is this acceptable?
The focus of medicine has to change if we expect the burden of healthcare that each of us shares to go away. Medicine needs to take on a new image. That image is functional medicine. Functional medicine is based on the idea that if all aspects of the body are functioning as intended, health abounds and sickness is subdued. The body is an integral system with all areas dependent on each other. To understand how to support health, a doctor must have the time to listen to your concerns and procure a better understanding of your health limitations. This is not our current model. The current model, even with the new legislative oversight, limits the doctor-patient interaction to insure that everyone is seen. Everyone may be seen, but at what cost?? Both financially and as it relates to your health.
Your ailment is just the starting point to find out whats really wrong with you.
Finally people are starting to recognize Functional Medicine, people are starting to understand how functional medicine can keep you away from the Doctor. Wellness is the future. Taking care of yourself, getting tested eating correctly instead of “dieting” this is the future. To prevent sickness. It is the only way to limit or remove what we spend on sick care. If we use it less, it costs us less. If you keep thinking that you should only see a Doctor when you are sick, or ailing, the wellness message will continue to be lost. Functional medicine points out a different path. We need to focusing on wellness from before time of conception until passing.
If you could imagine having a Doctor focus on every aspect of your life, how you feel inside and out, what you eat, what is your outlook on life, are you satisfied, how much do you exercise. That is Functional Medicine, this is the future. Most people still view Functional Medicine as something new and unusual, but less so now. People are educating themselves more, they are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Literally. The reason it’s changing is because people want someone to care about the way they feel. Someone that will really listen to them and look a little deeper. One size does not fit all, antidepressants do not heal everyone. Not everyone that cannot sleep needs medicine. What are the reasons? Why does this person feel this way? These are the questions that need to be asked. You don’t have to be a prisoner to the constraints of limited, system oriented care. You don’t have to wait until Functional Medicine is popular, you can do something now. You can see a Functional Medicine Doctor, and find out why you feel the way you do, and how to fix it forever naturally.
Window into our bodies
Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to just look in to how your body functions through a window? Or even better, if we could just visually see how our bodies are affected by what we do and eat? Then we could see how certain actions are healthy and will make our organs and tissues last longer, or maybe we will see how smoking and eating the wrong things weakens our bodies. At one time these questions were theoretical. But now in this modern day things are different, what we once could only imagine, we are now very capable of.
What age are you really?
How are you aging? That is the question. Are you aging fast or slow? To answer this question, you have to know your chronological age vs. your biological age. Chronological age is easily determined. It is your age. The missing variable has been determining biological age. There was no standardization to suggest how your body was functioning as a product of age. Traditional lab markers gave at best insinuations about your biological age, but nothing definitive. Yet, with the upsurge of research in the field of genomics, we began to learn about telomeres. If you are not familiar with Telomeres, you are going to want to know them.
What are Telomeres?
In short telomeres are the tips of your chromosomes, or genetic material. They are predictive of biological age. The longer they are the better your biological age. In contrast, shorter equals faster aging. You can now literally determine if your body is older than what the calendar says, or if you are younger.
Without question, everyone wants to be younger biologically than chronologically. If you are younger than your chronological age, you want to maintain. If you are older than your chronological age, you will want to make changes. But how do you know you are doing the right things to help you age slowly.
This is where functional medicine finds its role. At the center of anti-aging and rejuvenation is functional medicine. Functional medicine as the name implies centers on restoring function to the body. As it relates to telomeres, better function equals longer telomeres. Vice versa, longer telomeres equal better function. As an example, take blood sugar. When blood sugar rises routinely, secondary inflammation is created and telomeres are damaged. The prolonged shortening of telomeres also makes it more difficult to control blood sugar. It becomes a vicious circle. Cycles such as this are not broken by a single intervention aimed at symptoms, but rather a comprehensive approach targeting all possible areas of contribution.
Balance is the key
Many things are known to influence the length of the telomere. These include hormone balance, low levels of inflammation, proper exercise, sleep, a good diet, and a balanced nutritional state. The focus of functional medicine is to realign the health of the body. To illustrate this point, a good diet with proper exercise at some point will become limited in its ability to support long term health if you are not getting adequate sleep. The key to preserving your telomere length is balance. Yet to achieve balance, you must equally manage all aspects of your life and understand the interplay that they have. As a paradigm focused on creating synchrony between all aspects of health, functional medicine is well poised to help you protect your delicate telomeres.
Getting a handle on fatigue
The most common complaint a healthcare professional hears is Fatigue. A quick glance through the Merck Manual, a multi-edition text that details most clinical conditions, you will see that fatigue is a symptom to most of them. Fatigue has several causes. However, taking steps to narrow down these causes can lead to an accurate diagnosis and deliver good results. Since some causes may be related to each other, it makes sense to have the appropriate tests to help you find which ones are relevant to you. Finally, a realistic treatment approach must be taken that does not follow common conceptions about how to deal with fatigue and which probably don’t apply. With the following steps, getting a handle on fatigue can become very real.
So why is fatigue so common? The easy answer is that we are rarely consistent about taking the actions necessary to promote an energetic state. One such cause of fatigue is lack of sleep. Most people when asked consider 5-6 hr of sleep sufficient. This is inaccurate. The old adage of 8 hours of sleep is the amount needed, maybe even a little more. It is not enough to get just 8 hours of sleep, rather you must get 8 hours of sleep during times of darkness. This is important because many hormones are dependent on the circadian, or 24 hour, rhythm. Therefore, ideal sleep is estimated between the times of 10 pm and 6 am. This is the time in which the body is to rest. The energy systems of the body are so efficient during daylight hours at providing us energy for activity. Yet during nighttime hours they support rest and recuperation. If this is not allowed to take place, then the body does not adequately recover from the previous day. When this occurs often enough, the body becomes rundown and fatigue begins to onset. One additional note to consider with sleep is that it needs to be restful. For many, sleep is very light and the deeper stages of sleep are not achieved. Reaching the deeper stages of sleep has proven the most restful and allows for the refreshed feeling in the morning as opposed to waking tired. Attempting to overcome fatigue without quality sleep is a futile effort that will lead to disappointing results.
While lack of sleep can negatively affect the hormones, hormones in their own right when imbalanced can result in fatigue. The most common hormone associated with fatigued states is cortisol. Cortisol is a survival hormone. It is often nicknamed the stress hormone as it is the hormone that has the greatest fluctuation in times of stress. The predominant role of cortisol is to maintain stable glucose levels. Glucose is the primary energy source for the body. Either we have adequate glucose for energy, or we convert other components like fat and protein into glucose for energy. When our glucose levels drop too low in blood, it is cortisol that stimulates release of stored glucose from the liver to provide energy. However, with repetitive stress, the glands that produce cortisol lose the ability to continually manufacture it. When this occurs, there is not enough glucose available to continually fuel the cells with energy. This is like trying to run your car without gas. This state is most commonly noted by episodes of hypoglycemia. Examples of being hypoglycemic would be less energy in between meals, roughly mid-morning or afternoon and/or irritability if you go too long without food. This is a problematic scenario since being hypoglycemic taxes the cortisol producing adrenal gland over time making it more difficult to respond to low states of glucose. If this scenario progress long enough or often enough, the cells become less responsive even when glucose is present. Correction of cortisol dysfunction to address low energy is dependent on many things. .
Another common cause of fatigue is nutrient deficiencies. Nutrient deficiencies were once thought to be rare, however valid clinical testing now allows us to see that the average person has 4-5 nutrient deficiencies, sometimes many more. Even those that are taking supplemental vitamins and minerals are not immune from deficient states. This can be related to poor forms of nutrients, improper combinations of nutrients and lack of assimilation after taking. Vitamins and minerals are most analogous to spark plugs in your care. They are not the main source of energy, but they keep all the cylinders firing. Vitamins and minerals don’t supply energy to the body. That is the role of glucose and oxygen. What vitamins and minerals do among there many functions is to act as cofactors to support the metabolic workings of the body. They allow glucose to go through all the energy production cycles of the body so that it may be used for energy, but they don’t give you energy. This is a false assumption. The only way a vitamin or mineral can provide energy is by making the pathways of the body that generate energy more efficient. Likewise, vitamins and minerals are also needed to produce healthy red blood cells, which transport oxygen. Without oxygen, energy cannot be made. In fact all of the energy production cycles can run effectively, but if you cannot supply oxygen, you will not produce energy. Making sure that you have adequate supplies of nutrients on a daily basis depends on several factors, but some of the most important include a quality diet that focuses on Paleolithic principles as well as targeted nutritional supplementation to address your specific needs as identified through testing.
While these are not all the causes of fatigue, they are the most common. Giving attention to fatigue in a systematic manner allows you a better understanding of what you may need and how to treat it. Unfortunately, a lot of people deal with fatigue related issues simply because they have many times not had their basic needs met like I was mentioning above.
What are Hormones?
What are hormones? This may be a question you have asked yourself. Your doctor may mention your thyroid or your sex hormones like estrogen and testosterone. Occasionally they will even refer to the stress hormone cortisol. But if you have not had any previous association with hormones, the discussion of hormones can leave you baffled. However, it is important to know that hormones are vital components to your health and that adequate assessment of them can be the difference between feeling good or dragging through the day.
In short, hormones are chemical messengers. They are produced within our body from specific hormone secreting glands, where they then proceed to enter the blood stream and influence activity in various tissues. They have a very distinct role in the body. This is the primary reason that many symptoms can be associated with a specific hormone. When hormones are imbalanced, they lead to a multitude of symptoms that can make life seem miserable. Just ask any female that deals with PMS if she enjoys this time of the month. PMS is an indication of imbalanced hormones, but it is also a testament to the power of hormones.
Clearly no one wants to feel hormonal or like their hormones are out of balance. Hormone balance is critical to life. There are many proposed ways in which to support hormones, but all of these should have a similar starting point. This point should be assessment of hormone levels. Hormone level assessment is critical due to the need to have a measure of the success of intervention. I often see patients in my Houston clinics that have undergone no form of hormone level assessment, only to be placed on a replacement regimen without first being sure of their particular needs. Such actions can be detrimental long term as hormone levels can build up in the system. Many times this leads to low hormone symptoms. This can seem paradoxical until you realize that often low and high hormone levels symptoms overlap each other.
There is a better way and that is through testing. Testing hormone levels is a critical step in the balancing of hormones. Hormone levels can be tested through saliva, urine and blood. Each method has its benefits and weaknesses. The critical aspect however is that with testing you are able to outline a specific repletion program based on your individual needs rather than simply applying a hormone to a particular symptom or state of dysfunction. I am still amazed at the amount of estrogen I see recommended in light of the evidence suggesting that estrogen therapy alone is not a good idea, at least not without proper hormone level assessment to know that it is being balanced with progesterone. Women commonly tell me of symptoms such as chronically itching skin, weight gain, a full feeling in the legs and increased irritability. All of these are indications of excess estrogen. The important point is that they could all have been avoided if proper hormone level assessment had been considered.
Hormones are vital to life. We need them. However, we need them in adequate amounts. The application of hormone replacement therapy is a viable method to reestablish adequate levels, yet if it is not guided by hormone level assessment, overshooting the level of hormones administered can easily take place. Nevertheless, when properly guided by hormone level assessment, application of hormones can be a difference maker in your life offering you a sense of health and wellness.