5 Key Hormones With Major Influence

As we’ve emphasized in the past, hormones play a huge role in our overall health, wellbeing an happiness. This articled from Dailyburn.com outlines why these top five hormones are important to know and check as you age.

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You might not be able to see your hormones, but they play a constant role in how our bodies function; they’re the chemical messengers that travel, via our bloodstream, to every organ and tissue in the body. They influence fat storage, sex drive, energy levels, brain health and a host of other vital functions.  To help you get a better grip on your health and fitness, we’ve highlighted five hormones that have a powerful influence over your health and what you can do to control them.

Testosterone

Perhaps one of the most well-known and desired hormones in the weight room, testosterone isn’t just important for males. Females have it too, albeit at much lower levels. The hormone is secreted by the testes in males and in much smaller doses in the ovaries in females. In the right amounts, testosterone can help to increase muscle mass and strength and might increase brain function. Low T levels can be a decreased sex drive, a higher level of fat storage, and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Growth Hormone

If you’ve ever looked into gaining muscle or strength, chances are you’ve heard about growth hormone. This hormone, made by the pituitary gland, goes hand-in-hand with testosterone. In the right amounts, growth hormone helps to increase muscle mass and decrease body fat. Since aging males often suffer from exactly the opposite effect, growth hormone is thought of as the anti-aging hormone.

Estrogen

Eating properly and engaging in regular exercise are likely your best bets against estrogen imbalances. Normally thought of as a female-only hormone, estrogen is actually present in males as well (albeit at much lower levels). At regular levels, estrogen helps to regulate female reproductive cycles. In males, estrogen is important for sex drive. As it relates to exercise, some studies state that estrogen may affect muscle recovery and brain health. While those benefits aren’t confirmed, one thing we do know is that estrogen levels can impact how fat is stored in the body. And excess fat tissue can have a harmful side effect in both males and females. Excess fat in males helps to turn testosterone into estradial, a form of estrogen. In females, the same thing occurs. Excess fat levels convert androgens (a broad term for testosterone-like hormones) to estrogen. That’s not exactly the shift you want occurring when you’re trying to build muscle and maintain a lean physique. The resulting imbalance can lead to more fat storage in both males and females, creating a circular effect.

Insulin

Well-known for it’s role in diabetes, insulin often gets a bad rap. But it plays a huge role in metabolism. Insulin is an anabolic hormone, meaning it helps the body to build complex molecules. How it works: When you eat during the day, the carbohydrates in the food enter your blood stream. The body then releases insulin, which opens up your cells to uptake blood sugar (referred to as glucose). The cells, in turn, can build up their energy stores while keeping blood sugar in check. The danger comes with over-releasing insulin, which can happen with poor dietary habits. In that case, our bodies release can develop an insulin resistance, meaning cells aren’t as sensitive to insulin. To clear blood glucose after a meal, our bodies need to release even more insulin. This vicious cycle can lead to type II diabetes.

Cortisol

The issue is when cortisol levels are always high. This can be a symptom of overtraining or just a stressful week of work.

Cortisol controls energy levels in times of stress. A long time ago, those periods of “stress” may have involved outrunning a lion or fighting off a pack of wolves. Now, stress is usually a result of sitting in traffic or having a hard deadline to meet at work. Still, our bodies respond to cortisol in the same way. Periods of stress cause the body to break down proteins and release glucose into the blood stream. The increased amounts of energy are meant to help us escape danger or recover from extreme effort. Cortisol spikes can also be experienced during intense exercise, and continues to rise as the workout session goes on.

Short spikes of the hormone are necessary and not a cause of worry. The issue is when cortisol levels are always high. This can be a symptom of overtraining or just a stressful week of work. Chronically-elevated levels of cortisol have been shown to cause cardiovascular issues and also

Though small, hormones can have a powerful effect on your body. The great news is you aren’t powerless against them. Understanding how and why they affect your health can be a key factor in getting and maintaining the physique you want. Healthy behaviors like regular exercise (intervals in particular), proper nutrition and adequate sleep can go a long way in keeping hormone levels in check.


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