It’s inevitable. We all get old.
As we get on in years, our hormones take on a life of their own.
We all, for the most part, go through the stages of life including puberty for both girls and boys, and menopause for women.
However, men’s hormones do change as well when they age.
Our endocrine system, is comprised of all the glandular secretory cells and tissues of the body including the hypothalamus, pineal, pituitary, thyroid and parathyroid glands, thymus, heart, kidney, digestive glands, adrenal glands, pancreatic islets, and gonads.
Its primary function is to secrete hormones directly into the blood which then transports them to the appropriate organs and tissues.
The major processes controlled by these hormones includes:
- Growth and development
- Stress/defense response
- Water and electrolyte homeostasis
- Nutrient balance in our blood
- Regulation of cellular metabolism and energy balance
There are two main types of hormones; steroids and non-steroids:
These hormones consist of estrogens, progesterone, testosterone, aldosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and the corticosteroids. They are produced by the adrenal cortex, testes, ovaries, and placenta.
This type of hormone is divided into amine hormones, peptides, proteins, and glycoproteins.
There are two main types of amine hormones:
- Serotonin and melatonin derived from tryptophan,
- Dopa. Dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine, and thyroid hormone, are all derived from tyrosine.
Peptide hormones include ADH and oxytocin. Most non-steroid hormones are protein and include insulin, glucagon, somatotropin (growth hormone), parathyroid hormone, calcitonin, ACTH, prolactin, hypothalamic release hormones, and digestive hormones. Glycoprotein hormones include FSH, LH, and TSH.
Let’s take a look at some of the regulatory glands and how to support them from a nutrient perspective.
Considered the master gland of the endocrine system. It controls the distribution of hormones to other hormone secreting organs in the system such as the ovaries, pancreas, adrenals, thyroid, parathyroid, and pineal gland.
The hypothalamus (situated above the optic nerve) sends messages to the pituitary for functions including our body temperature, emotions, sleep, defence mechanisms, thirst, hunger, and so much more.
Effects of imbalance – stress is common with menopause and perimenopause so it’s important to support when needed through whole foods and essential fatty acids such as flaxseeds, and foods containing vitamin E and B complex.
Every person’s thyroid gland will vary in size. The role of the thyroid gland is the secretion of thyroid hormones and the regulation of thyroid secretion.
Thyroid hormones affect consumption of oxygen, rate of energy consumption, and any rises in body temperature. They increase heart rate, stimulate the formation of red blood cells, and accelerate the turnover of minerals in the bones.
Effects of imbalance (underactive thyroid) – very common and some theories is exposure to free radicals, soil deficiency, and even mercury in dental fillings. Consumption of iodine rich foods is recommended along with B complex foods.
Effects of imbalance (overactive thyroid) – usually pathological and requires the attention of a medical professional. It is advised to avoid nicotine and alcohol.
Adrenal hormone production adjusts in response to thoughts and conditions affecting cravings, sleep patterns, and metabolism.
Effects of imbalance – our adrenals are affected to our response from stress. The best approach to deal with underactive adrenals is to manage stress levels.
Hormones & Aging
For many women entering peri-menopause, the difference in the amount of hormones can grow wider. From age 45-50, there is a period of steep decrease of progesterone with a gradual decrease in estrogen.
By menopause, the total amount of progesterone made is extremely low while estrogen is still present in the body at about half its pre-menopausal level.
Menopause represents the end of reproductive function. The average age of onset is 51 years and it generally lasts 6-10 years. During this time, the ovaries being to slow down the production of estrogen and progesterone.
As the organs seek to re-establish a balance with less estrogen, many symptoms attributed to menopause are like to appear such as hot flashes, insomnia, night sweats, and nervous systems.
Prostate problems can arise in men generally after the age of 50. Commonly, the prostate begins to hypertrophy, or increase in size. This sometimes can be a result from estrogen dominance since men convert testosterone to estrogen when stressed (as a result of elevated cortisol levels).
Andropause (loss of testosterone) which is similar to women’s menopause, is when men can experience a drop in testosterone levels generally around the age of 50.
Hormone Boosting Smoothie Recipe
- 1 cup coconut water
- ½ cup of whole almonds
- 1 banana
- Soak the almonds in filtered water overnight. Rinse the almonds thoroughly and discard the water.
- Peel banana and slice up roughly.
- Add the coconut water
- Add all ingredients to the blender and blend until smooth and creamy!
Eat Well – Move Well – Live Well