“To control your hormones is to control your life” – Dr Barry Sears.
Modern life is filled with hormone disruptors. Our chaotic lifestyles, poor dietary choices and toxic environment all contribute to throwing their meticulous dance off balance. While doctors can offer pills, creams and medication to
plaster over the symptoms of a hormonal imbalance, targeting disruptors in your daily life can do a great deal to get your body back to equilibrium.
Angelique Panagos, a South African-born nutritional therapist in London, says, ‘Most of us know nothing about how our hormones work, so we don’t work with them.’ Can you identify any hormone disruptors below?
- Nutrition. You might be tired of hearing that a balanced diet is the foundation for good health, but it’s the truth. What you put into your mouth and digestive system has a dramatic impact on how your body functions. ‘Optimum nutrition is an important first step in any hormone-rebalancing programme,’
explains Angelique. ‘The body needs specific vitamins, minerals and fatty acids to produce sex hormones as well as stress hormones.’ So don’t think you’ll lose weight by cutting out fat and carbohydrates, both are needed to keep your body in balance and to produce your all-important hormones.
- Toxins. Chemical disruptors are everywhere in our environment – your food, the products you lather on
your skin every day, in the air you breathe and the objects you use and surround yourself with. Many mimic hormones in your body and take their place in hormone receptors, permitting them from carrying
out fundamental actions. This can cause a variety of somatic disorders, including the development of learning disabilities, severe attention deficit disorder, cognitive development problems, development of
certain cancers, obesity, diabetes, and reproductive issues.
- Stress. Cortisol, or the stress hormone, is produced in moments of fight or flight and dictates what happens to the other hormones. ‘The body is constantly deciding whether to make more sex hormones like progesterone, testosterone and oestrogen, or more stress hormones like cortisol,’ says Angelique. ‘We are genetically programmed to allow stress to override any other message in the body, because it might signal an acute life or death situation. Yet we are not living the life that we are genetically programmed to live.
Instead, we are living in a state of chronic stress… [and] if a woman is stressed, whether emotionally or physically, her body favours the production of cortisol, which can lead to sub-optimal progesterone levels and in turn not enough raw material to make the other sex hormones.’ It’s no wonder stress is public health
enemy number one. ‘Stress continues to be the biggest crisis facing women’s health in the 21st century,’ says Angelique. Not only does existing in a constant state of stress and ‘switched on’ mode keep cortisol levels high, at the cost of the production of other hormones, but it affects brain function too. ‘One of the effects of over-exposure to cortisol is that it can affect the frontal cortex in your brain,’ says Angelique. ‘It can affect your memory and your ability to learn. So, if you’re having brain fog or feeling forgetful,
you could be succumbing to stress.’
Toxins to stay away from when trying to balance your hormones
Xeno-oestrogen and parabens
Mimics oestrogen in the body – can be found in plastic and metal food containers, toys, cosmetics, paint, lotions, sun creams, moisturisers.
Found in soft, flexible plastics and PVC (polyvinyl chloride) products, perfumes, soap and shampoo, hairspray, car interiors.
A plastic widely used for bottles, kitchen equipment, lining of food tins, toys, baby products (like bottles and dummies).
These can be found in many industrial processes that include pesticides and herbicides, the bleaching of pulp and paper.
Feature: Taryn Das Neves and photos from Fotolia.com