Balancing Hormones & Oxidative Damage
Hormones are complicated. It's not that we cannot achieve balance, but that it's not as black and white as it may seem. There is relativity that we have to consider from case to case and there is no quick fix to balancing hormones. But, the good thing is, that there is a lot that we can do to help!
Hormone imbalance is very common. There are so many factors that play a role in hormone balancing.
We have our thyroid gland, which is responsible for producing our thyroid hormones upon signaling from our brain. We have our reproductive hormones: estrogen, progesterone and testosterone and we have our stress hormone - cortisol, which is produced in our adrenal glands. We also have insulin, a hormone that responds to all of the above and especially, stress and diet.
The above are only to name a few big players. All of our hormones have metabolites and all of those metabolites contribute to the bigger picture of hormone imbalance.
The short of it is, that what we do in our daily lives really matters. Oxidative stress can potentiate oxidative damage to our hormones and how they cycle and affect one another. Here are a few things to look out for to give your hormones the best chance in preventing oxidative damage:
1) Limit alcohol and caffeine consumption. Both are a source of reactive oxygen species but also affect the organs in the bodies that produce and transmit signals for hormone regulation.
2) Eat good quality meats - organic, grass-fed, hormone free to reduce toxic burden in the body overall.
3) Physical activity is a great way to work off a stressful day! Focus and work into your gym routine, what we call in Chinese medicine, to be YIN building exercises like Yoga, Tai chi and Pilates which are restorative to our bodies.
4) Eat a wholesome diet! As they say, eat the rainbow. Nourish your cells and your body. Avoid high sugar foods which spike insulin (another hormone), which can then affect cortisol, which can then affect the thyroid and reproductive hormones.
5) Avoid BPA containers - Bisphenols are toxic. In general, avoid heating up plastic. Use glass to avoid toxic chemicals form leaching into foods!
All of these (and so much more) can help get rid of the oxidative damage, harmful processes of hormone metabolism and also support your healthy hormones.
We all have hormones. And we can really help ourselves in the long run if we can implement coping mechanisms and prevent hormone imbalance in the first place.
Hormone testing is a great place to start for prevention or treatment. Hormones and their metabolites are best tested in the urine with the exception of our thyroid hormones, which are best tested in the blood. The metabolites of our hormones give us a ton of useful information!
Can we measure oxidative stress related to our hormones? YES. 8-OHdG is a product of DNA oxidation and therefore a marker of oxidative stress. This metabolite can be tested in the urine.
Ask your Naturopathic doctor for more information on advanced hormone testing, interpretation and subsequent treatments!