Mon. Apr 15th, 2024

Hormonal imbalances can leave you feeling low energy and low mood (Image: Getty Images)

How long we live and our overall health is impacted by multiple factors. Many of us are aware that what we eat, how often we exercise and whether we smoke and drink alcohol can all affect this.

However, there is one aspect of our health that is frequently “overlooked”, according to one doctor. Speaking on his YouTube channel, physician Doctor Mark Hyman, advised “optimising” your hormone health as a way to live longer.

Hormones are chemical messengers secreted into the blood that coordinate different functions in your body. They affect things like our growth and development, metabolism, sexual and reproductive function and mood.

According to Dr Hyman, not properly taking care of your hormones could leave you feeling low in energy, motivation and concentration, as well as suffering from low cognitive function. This applies to your sex hormones, thyroid hormones and growth hormones, Dr Hyman explained.

But while this area of health may be “misunderstood”, there are steps we can all take to support our hormones. Speaking to his one million subscribers, Dr Hyman first focused on men and their testosterone levels.

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The founder and medical director of The UltraWellness Centre said: “I’m gonna start with you guys first, because they are more straightforward.

“Your testosterone is something that’s not just good to look at if you’re 90 years old, and, you know, are having trouble or if you’re 70 or 60.

“These are hormones that are things that you should know about your health, all through your life spectrum, and I’ve seen 30-year-olds with the hormone levels of a 90-year-old.”

“Typically” men should have a testosterone level of over 500 nanograms per decilitre (ng/dL). But probably it should be more like, six, seven, eight, even 900,” Dr Hyman said.

“If you don’t have adequate levels of testosterone, you will find your health diminished, you’ll have low energy, low motivation, low concentration, low cognitive function, low libido, low sexual function and erectile dysfunction.”

Your testosterone levels can be checked with a blood test. But there are ways to tell via your appearance.

Dr Hyman said: “So when you see men for example who have big bellies. They often have lots of hair on their body or they have, you know, more soft skin.

“So, what’s going on there? Well, they’re having high oestrogen and low testosterone and so, basically the bigger your belly the lower your testosterone, it’s easy to just look at the mirror but it’s better to know, your number is in, check your blood.”

To improve your testosterone levels there are a number of lifestyle changes you can make.

In your diet this includes cutting down on sugar and starch and eating more healthy fats, he said.

“Alcohol is not good,” he added. “So alcohol also increases oestrogen levels, it poisons your liver so you can’t metabolise it.”

Dr Hyman said having a proper exercise routine and working on your large muscle groups can also boost testosterone levels.

Looking at hormone health in women, he said: “Women have to suffer a lot more hormonal chaos than men, for a lot of reasons.

“Their hormones are changing all the time with menstrual cycles, with menopause, with puberty.

“They are much more sensitive to environmental toxins and how those impact hormonal function. They are much more affected by stress.

“They’re much more effective by alcohol, by dietary changes, by lack of exercise, by smoking. All these things mess up hormones.

“So it’s important for me to understand what their hormones are doing, how they’re affecting them, why they feel what they feel.”

He warned that having too much oestrogen – the sex and reproductive hormone – is a problem in women.

“If women are having something called oestrogen dominance this is a really common condition in the world because a lot of things we do causes you produce too much oestrogen in relation to our progesterone, particularly in menstruating women.”

Again, eating too much sugar and starch is a “problem”.

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“Too much sugar can start to raise insulin which causes more fat deposition and more fat leads to more oestrogen production.

“So when you have too much fat tissue atypically belly fat, you get higher levels of oestrogen.”

He also warned that drinking alcohol and not exercising can be an issue.

Dr Hyman said: “If you drink alcohol, it poisons your liver and you get higher levels of oestrogen.

“If you don’t exercise, you may have higher levels if your gut is not healthy and you don’t have enough healthy bacteria here in your gut and fibre, you might increase your oestrogen levels by re-circulating oestrogen that you excrete from your liver into your body. “

Aside from getting tested, an indicator of having too high oestrogen levels includes heavy bleeding and severe menstrual cramps, Dr Hyman added.

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