How Hormones Affect Your Body
Hormones are the chemical messengers of the body. Much in the same way that texting on a cell phone can relay a message, the secretion of a hormone into the bloodstream can also deliver a powerful stimulus to a particular area of function in the body. Understanding how hormones affect your body can help you determine if the use of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can hold a benefit in your life.
Hormones deliver their signals via target receptors. Each hormone has its own set of receptor cells located in the areas corresponding to their functions. For example, growth hormone is secreted by somatotropic cells in the anterior pituitary gland in pulsatile bursts during wake and sleep stages. GH then races through the bloodstream to its targeted receptor cells. These receptors are located in the brain, the liver, bones, muscles, and more. Once the targeted receptors receive the message, growth hormone disappears from the bloodstream until the next pulsatile burst.
Other hormones remain in the bloodstream all day. Some of these chemical messengers, such as insulin, glucagon, and gastrin have singular functions that they perform. The action of insulin is to lower blood glucose levels. Glucagon has the opposite effect of raising glucose levels. Gastrin promotes acid secretion in the stomach. Others, such as GH and testosterone, stimulate many different functions.
As you find out about hormones and their functions, it is easy to see how a deficiency in the production of any of these vital chemicals could cause problems for your health or well-being.
Hormones and Weight Gain
Anyone who has ever wondered why it becomes easier to gain weight the older you get, and harder to lose it, should look deep inside the body at hormone production. Once we reach the age of thirty, the body starts to sense that certain chemicals are not required in the higher amounts of our youth. That does not mean that they are no longer necessary – just in slightly lower supply. Unfortunately, the body does not always regulate the reduction properly, or it may respond adversely to the decline in hormone production. In the case of some of these crucial chemicals, metabolism is affected. This brings us to the connection between hormones and weight gain.
The following hormones that affect metabolism can all have an impact on how well the body utilizes the food it consumes:
- Growth hormone
- Insulin Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1)
As long as this list may seem, the interaction between many of these hormones is what helps narrow down the field for doctors searching for adult hormone deficiencies. Growth hormone is the stimulus for IGF-1, so treatment with HGH injections will take care of both types of deficiency. An interesting side note about ghrelin is that its release is stimulated by the stress hormone cortisol, which is also an inhibitor of growth hormone. A person dealing with GH deficiency will find that the body responds by increasing cortisol production, which, in turn, stimulates ghrelin to send hunger signals that result in overeating as the body searches for external sources of energy. The result – weight gain!
The Function of Hormones
Maintaining a high level of hormone functions is crucial for proper health. The brain is the body’s command center. Vital chemical messengers race through the bloodstream and along pathways in the brain to facilitate critical communications. The endocrine system has its hormones, and the nervous system has its own set of chemical signals – neurotransmitters.
Hormones control hunger, libido, cellular regeneration, immunity, sexual responses, energy, reproduction, mood, temperature sensitivity, hair growth, collagen production, sleep, cravings, organ functions, and much more. Receptors located in various glands, organs, and tissues help promote these activities.
The brain contains receptors for the six classes of steroid hormones synthesized from cholesterol, as well as thyroid hormones.
The steroid hormones fall into the following categories:
- Vitamin D
Some hormones can alter brain function, learning, and memory, such as the stress hormone cortisol. Severe, prolonged stress can influence this adverse effect, but the brain can recover as cortisol levels subside and chemicals such as growth hormone increase.
How to Maintain Proper Hormone Levels
The fact that some significant hormone levels start to decline when adults enter their thirties may seem unnerving. That does not need to be the case. Individuals who lead healthy lifestyles by getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night, exercising regularly, limiting stress, and watching what they eat may never notice any change in their daily functions. Their hormone levels are holding their own, even as they slowly decline.
Some people are genetically predisposed to severe hormonal deficiencies while others only escalate the problem by engaging in glutinous habits, reduced sleep, stressful actions, and sedentary lifestyles. In some cases, illness, medical treatments, or even brain injuries may play a role in chemical decline.
Doctors who are specialists in the field of hormone replacement therapy can run blood tests to determine if any of these vital chemical levels are too low for proper bodily functions to take place. If so, treatment with the corresponding treatment can be prescribed. The use of bioidentical hormone therapy can help restore proper functions in the body.