Tuesday, December 14, 2010

An Influx of Hormones

Written by Avena- http://avenaoriginals.com/

Do you ever feel your heart start pounding and your
blood rushing through your veins? Your senses seem
heightened - ready for whatever your body needs.
Your muscles contract, waiting for action. If you have
ever felt this way, most likely it is caused by the
hormone adrenaline running through your
veins. This hormone is just one of many
messengers used to send messages to
various organs to produce a desired
response. Hormones are often talked and
complained about, yet little is truly
understood about what roles they play, how
they work, and why they do what they do.
We should all take the initiative to discover why these
changes are happening and how to safely and naturally
work to prevent major hormonal issues.
Hormones are the body’s means of communicating
with and directing itself. By using a process known as
negative needback, the body has the ability to regulate
itself. This works because the body is constantly
monitoring itself for various levels of different
components. A well known example of this is the
regulation of blood sugar levels. If the blood glucose
levels are too high, the body produces and releases
insulin, a hormone that has amongst its many roles the
slowing down of the body’s conversion of blood
glucose. If it's the opposite, and the levels of blood
glucose are too low, glucagon is released, thereby
sending the signal for the body to create more glucose.
This negative feedback system is a great way for the
body to maintain balance and harmony, otherwise
known as homeostasis.
Hormones are created throughout our body in a variety
of areas. Most hormones are produced by an organ
that is part of the endocrine system (for
example, the thyroid and adrenal glands).
Once the signal has been sent for the body
to create a specific hormone, then the
search begins for the necessary ingredients
to make it. Products that should be in your
body ready to make hormones are amino
acids, minerals, vitamins, healthy bacteria,
healthy fats (like cholesterol) and water. Even with
your body having these raw ingredients, it still needs
enzymes to convert these supplies into the desired
hormone. All of these are requirements to make
hormones; if your body is low in any of these
nutrients, your hormone levels will be affected.
An easy way to tell if your hormones are in tune is
to imagine that each component of your body is an
instrument and together they all combine to form an
orchestra. If any of these instruments are not playing
correctly, the whole symphony will sound out of tune.
In much the same way that it can be hard to tell whichinstrument is out of tune, it is not always easy to
discern which area of the body is causing the
A hormone imbalance within the body can be
very hard to discover. This is essentially so because
much of hormone production relies on outside
factors such as stress, sleep, protein
(amino acid) levels, mineral balance
and production, and medications. Not
only do these outside factors impact the
hormones naturally found within our
bodies, they can also create situations
that deplete your hormone levels even
further. Side effects from a hormonal
imbalance often mimic other health
problems that many people associate
with something else. Two great
examples of this are headaches and acne. Both can
have multiple causes; yet, each one can also be
caused by hormonal disturbances.
A key point to remember is that everything in the
body comes from the food that we eat and the
lifestyle that we lead. Therefore, if your diet is high in
foods that are naturally high in estrogen (soy, some animal
flesh, dairy, flax, yams, and chickpeas to name just a few),
the estrogen levels in your body will naturally increase. In
the same way, if there are foods that are missing from
your diet, this can also affect the body in a negative way.
Foods that most people can directly see
affecting their hormone levels are those that
are high in sugar and have the effect of raising
their blood glucose levels. These foods can
cause reactions such as nervousness, jitters,
accelerated heart rate, short term memory
loss, and difficulty concentrating. This
response is then followed by a 'crash' which
can result in headaches, moodiness, dizziness
and a host of other symptoms.
There are two types of hormones that your
body manufactures -- peptide and steroid hormones.
While both are produced by the body, each type of
hormone has its own niche and role. The main differences
between the two types of hormones are that steroids have
the ability to enter into the cell and desired area, whereas
the peptides affect the surrounding region. Secondly,
peptide hormones can be manufactured in multiple areas
of the body (thyroid, liver, pituitary, pancreas, etc.) and
steroid hormones are created mainly through the adrenals
or sex organs (testes/ovaries).
Finally, while the steroid hormones can be affected by
weak or damaged adrenals, the peptide hormones require
greater amounts of amino acids for proper formation.
Steroids are hormones that work in many different areas
of the body, but they are most well known for their effectsthe body’s natural abilities. In some cases this is done
for health benefits, while in other circumstances
steroids can be misused and lead to harmful side
effects if done over a long term. Most people associate
the term steroids with athletes -- something that makes
the body run faster, stronger, harder
and overall better than your average
person and even in some cases better
than an above-average athlete.
Because of this, many competitive
sports leagues now have routine
testing done to ensure an even
playing field where only players’
natural abilities are showcased.
Although not all major sport leagues do this testing,
some sports such as bodybuilding actually have
designated fields for those who have chosen to use
steroids. There is such a vast array of hormones that
work in this area (even some that are not limited to
‘steroids’) that the developers of the technology to
discover them are continually challenged just to keep
up with those that are creating them.
One more steroid used commonly, and may have a
recognizable name, is cortisol, or cortisone. This
hormone has the ability to break down damaged tissue
so that it can be replaced. It is also a great antiinflammatory
agent. Cortisol is known as the stress
hormone because its production is increased during
times of stress. This is often the hormone that is
administered by way of a cortisone shot. This injection
can greatly reduce swelling and inflammation in the
affected area. Cortisol is also known to help lower the
incidence of pain. Therefore, these injections, when
combined with a mild anesthetic, can help reduce the
feeling of pain for a period of time. Some people find
that an injection of cortisone, while helpful, is a
temporary fix. Avena suggests that it is always
better to work with the body as a whole rather
than just to target isolated areas and instances
such as these cortisone injections do.
Probably the most recognizable hormones
for adults would be any one of the sex
hormones -- estrogen, progesterone, and
testosterone being the main three. Sex
hormones are secreted by the body at puberty
and continue to be created on a regular basis until
menopause/andropause. This new release of hormones
causes all sorts of confusion on the soon-to-be adult,
causing many uncomfortable moments for both males
and females. These hormones cause a variety of actions
each unique to the hormone. Sex hormone production is
responsible for the differences between boys and men,
and girls and women, both in appearance and body
chemistry. This change not only enhances the
differences within the same sex but increases the visual
differences between male to female. These hormones
play one of the biggest roles in every adult’s daily life.
This combination of hormones is what helps to make
reproduction possible.
While most would assume that after puberty the main
group of people affected by hormones are women, thisis not true in the least. The effects may be much more
prominent and visual in women (on a recurring,
monthly basis), but men are not immune to hormones.
The advantage that women have over men is that they
have a regular reminder as to how the hormones in
their body are working. The hormones men produce
are being made on a regular basis (daily or hourly,
compared to monthly in a woman). This is why it is
generally much easier to discover a (sex) hormone
problem in a women’s body compared to a man’s.
Sex hormones do play a major role in our daily lives.
Still, there are also many ‘unseen’ hormones that
have just as prominent duties, yet they go unnoticed
for the most part. These behind-the-scenes hormones
are the ones that do all the little things that we may
take for granted. This can include hormones like
dopamine, an important hormone in nerve function
and communication; serotonin, the ‘feel good’
hormone; and melatonin, the hormone relating to
proper sleep. All of these hormones are very important
for regulating how the body moves and functions, yet
are often ignored in favour of other higher profile
You need to treat your adrenal glands (and your
whole endocrine system) well. These small glands that
reside just above your kidneys pack a powerful
hormonal punch. The adrenal glands are responsible
for monitoring a lot of hormone function and are an
important part of your endocrine system. These glands
are also very susceptible to outside stimulation.
Caffeine is the most commonly used ‘drug’ that has a
major effect on the adrenal system. The effects of this
‘drug’ use are really amazing to consider in the light
of the fact that most of the steroid hormones are
produced by the adrenals. So many men and women
with hormonal issues could feel so much healthier and
improve their hormones naturally just by treating their
body’s adrenal glands better!
The main reason our hormones go out of balance is
our lifestyle. Living in a highly stressful environment
causes a major drain on the body as a whole, but
especially on our enzyme and hormone levels. If you
were to create a list of those people who have healthy
hormone levels, you would have to remove those who eat
diets full of highly cooked or over-processed foods with
little nutrition. Doing so would shrink this list by a
dramatic number. You can also subtract the people who
do not receive the recommended 8 hours of sleep each
night, or who do not exercise regularly and the list
dwindles. Those people going through puberty or through
a change of life will have an even greater demand on
their body’s hormone production and because of this,
they should be adjusting their diet and lifestyle to their
body’s changing hormonal needs.
For those who have found out that yes, they do have a
hormone deficiency, the question then becomes what to
do. There is now an ever-expanding market for Hormone
Replacement Therapy, or HRT. This is supplementation
specifically with an isolated hormone. The most common
hormones supplemented this way are sex hormones.Even women who are taking prescription
contraceptives are giving themselves synthetic
hormones. Often the sources of these hormone
supplements are questionable (pregnant horses). By
adding artificial hormones to one’s body you can
create an imbalance of the hormones already present.
Because the body works on the negative feedback
system, supplementing with hormones can create a
dependency. This is true for most, if not all
supplemented hormones, and not just the sex
hormones (insulin is another
example of a supplemented
hormone). If your body already
‘sees’ that the hormone is there, it
won’t try to produce it. Ideally,
you should aim to encourage your
body to produce the hormone on
its own, usually by supplying
better nutrition to ‘feed’ the
production of that hormone. This
is why at Avena we always
suggest to keep it simple and just to ‘Clean and Feed’
the body.
An often talked about hormone when it comes to
supplementation is Human Growth Hormone, or HGH.
This hormone is touted as being the fountain of youth,
something to make you look and feel ageless. (The
effects of HGH on ‘anti-aging’ are still being disputed
and have not been clinically proven through multiple
unbiased trials.) This hormone helps encourage your
body to grow muscles and bones. While this hormone
has many advantages, the problem in supplementing
with hormones like this (and others) is that it is very
easy to over-stimulate the glands. In the case
of a peptide hormone such as HGH, while in
the short term you may not notice any side
effects, in the long term there can be many. It
should always be looked at as a last resort
option to supplement with any hormone. It is
always better to help the whole body first and
use any hormone additions only as a temporary
fix. Working with the body as a whole to solve
hormonal issues may take longer, but it is the
far more natural and recommended method.
Products that over-stimulate the body can wreak
havoc on your hormones. Caffeine and alcohol are the
most common products that have a noticeable effect on
both your adrenals and liver (and thus, on hormone
production). Food and lifestyle choices like these will
put more stress on your body, and a body that has a high
stress level is one that has to work twice as hard to
produce anything. Sleep also plays a major factor in
hormone levels. Your body repairs itself while you sleep
(uninterrupted). Plus, some hormones can only be
produced in darkness (melatonin). Improving your
sleeping habits will create a noticeably big difference
not only in your hormones but in your overall health as
Avena can help to supply your body with the
required raw materials to create hormones. Enzymes,
combined with concentrated whole food products and
Electrically Formulated™ supplements, greatly enhance
your body’s natural ability to generate vital hormones.
Taking healthy supplements regularly will help to
ensure that when your body calls for any hormone to be
built you will have a sustainable supply of resources
from which to draw. Products that are especially important are Enzymes, Toco®, Avena Minerals, Herb
Cocktail and Friendly Flora. Avena’s Toco® carries
such potent hormonal building blocks as tyrosine and
tryptophan, two essential amino acids that are used to
create many hormones. The combination of these raw
amino acids with bio-available vitamins and high
levels of anti-oxidants makes Toco® an excellent
product, not only for assisting in hormone production
but for the health of the body as a whole.
By naturally increasing the amounts of usable
amino acids, vitamins and minerals in your diet, you
can really help regulate hormone production.
However, most importantly, when looking at your diet
as a whole, it’s not the foods that you add or increase
that make the greatest difference, but rather the nonnutritious
foods that you eliminate. You can improve
your lifestyle and health by providing your body with
a vast array of the necessary nutrients that it requires
not only to function on a daily level but also to
provide you with adequate amounts of hormones.
Simply eating enough raw proteins (amino acids),
vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and water in your diet
will give you a significant improvement. A good clean
diet that is full of fresh and raw foods will give your
body maximum nutritional benefits. If you combine
this diet with a lifestyle full of whole food
supplements to cover all areas of ‘cleaning and
feeding your body,’ you are well on your way to good
overall health and good hormone health as well.
As most hormone imbalances are not easy to discover, it
is best to take a balanced and whole body approach to
improving your levels naturally. Also, a little bit of
exercise is never a bad thing! Keeping your body moving
and in shape is a great way to stay healthy, and as an
added perk, exercise has been shown to increase your
endorphins, the body’s natural ‘feel good hormones’!
One factor often overlooked in the area of health is sleep.
Try to make sure you are getting adequate levels of sleep
in a darkened room to both recharge your body and help
your body produce melatonin (which your body only
makes during the 'dark hours'). Melatonin is just another
of the important hormones your body manufactures to
help keep you healthy.
Everyone should recognize how important hormones
are to health. The big job now is to do what we know we
need to do, instead of just knowing what to do. Make
today, not tomorrow, the day you are going to make your
change for a healthier life! Hormones are a major part of
everyone’s life and need to be just as understood and
accepted as the need for healthy vitamins and minerals.As stated earlier, it is usually what you eliminate from your diet or lifestyle that can have the greatest impact on your health.
An important area to look at is the quality of the food you are eating. If you are aware, or have a suspicion, that you may have
a hormonal imbalance, a close inspection of the food you eat is a great place to begin. Foods which are high in sugar can affect
your blood glucose. Becoming familiar with a food’s Glycemic Index or Glycemic Load can help you regulate your blood sugar
with better efficiency. You may even notice that eating good foods at regular intervals (every 2-4 hours) will also help you
naturally balance blood glucose levels.
Next to insulin, the other hormones most affected by the food we eat are, surprisingly, the sex hormones. There are plenty
of foods that are naturally high in Estrogen (a female sex hormone), in the form of phytoestrogens. The most recognized of
these foods is soy. There are many people who experience adverse reactions to eating soy and don’t even realize it. Symptoms
can be something as mild as sweating, hot flashes, mild fever, jitters and more.
(For more information on soy, Avena suggests the book, The Whole Soy Story, by Kaayla T. Daniel)
After soy and sugar, the largest area of impact for food hormones is in meat products in all forms. Factory farming and high
consumer demand for larger portions has resulted in animals being fed a continuous diet of hormones. Chickens are given
growth hormones so that they mature much more quickly and grow larger breasts (the most desirable part of the chicken). This
mentality has also resulted in the need to mass-produce eggs to meet consumer demand. Even cows are not immune. Many
dairy cows are fed large amounts of hormones to boost milk supply so that more milk can be produced for the everyday
consumer. (Two great documentaries for more information about food and food quality are “Food Inc.” and “Food Matters.”)
To help make sure you are getting food that isn’t full of hormones, it is important to carefully read the labels and know
where your food is coming from. Organic meat and dairy products are highly recommended. If you eat meat or dairy products
on a regular basis, it may be advisable to switch to organic or, at the very least, to hormone-free products. A key area to watch
for is labeling. Organic meat does not mean that the product is hormone-free. The ‘organic’ label only refers to the feeding and
processing aspects of meat production. Always read labels carefully, and if you are unsure, ask! The cost of organic and
hormone-free foods may be higher, but it is always better to have a higher quality food going into your body to help keep it
running at a higher quality level!

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