In Sync With Hormones: By Connie Cook A balance is required for all aspects of a healthy life..
Tingling sensation. Rapid heartbeat. Clammy skin. Hot flashes. Restless sleep. What seems reminiscent of a hot and steamy summer romance can actually be the start of a hormonal train wreck in your body.
As with most everything in life, though, balance is key. If your hormones are out of sync, then your body can become completely out of whack.
Having either too much or too little of an essential hormone throws things off kilter and can lead to a disaster (just like having too much or little money, sex, sunshine or even chocolate). If your hormones are not balanced your body will not function properly.
Finding out what's going on inside your body can sometimes be tricky to determine.
Consider a hormone a chemical messenger that transports a signal from one cell to another. Hormones are responsible for your body's growth, development and energy. Like a symphony, your hormones interact with each other and each must be at optimal levels.
The hormones most familiar to women and most often associated with muscle mass, libido and mood swings are testosterone and estrogen. When a body's regular dose of these hormones decreases, we can physically see and feel the changes. Decreasing muscle mass, lower metabolism, weight gain, decreased libido, osteoporosis, thin, saggy and dry skin are usually associated with aging. However, our hormones do not decline because we age, but rather we age because our hormones decline.
Dr. Darren Farnesi is an expert who has studied Anti-Aging medicine and Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy in San Diego for more than 10 years. He specializes in Anti-Aging and Functional/Regenerative medicine. He says there are no "quick fixes" for unbalanced hormones.
"This is not about just getting a prescription for estrogen or testosterone when your libido isn't what it used to be," he says.
Dr. Farnesi uses an individualized approach and begins with laboratory tests of hormone levels (a so-called "hormone panel"). Then he prescribes a precise dosage of bio-identical estrogens, progesterone, testosterone, and/or DHEA that is prepared at a registered compounding pharmacy. Each patient is then monitored carefully through regular follow-up hormone panels to ensure he or she gets symptom relief at the lowest possible dosage.
Bio-identical hormones have a chemical structure identical to the hormones the human body naturally produces. They are appealing because they are natural and your body can metabolize them as it was designed to do with very little, if any, side effects.
By contrast, synthetic hormones are intentionally different. Drug companies can't patent a bio-identical structure, so they invent synthetic hormones that are patentable (Premarin, Prempro, and Provera being the most widely used examples). Synthetic hormones are quite strong and often produce intolerable side effects such as the retention of water, bloating, headache, nausea and possibly even cancer, according to research performed by the Women's Health Initiative in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute. They found women taking a combination synthetic hormone, both estrogen and progestin, had an increased risk of developing breast cancer. This study found women taking synthetic hormones have a 24-percent increase in risk of breast cancer compared to those not taking synthetic hormones.
Wouldn't it be nice if our minds aged and we became wiser, but our bodies didn't age and we remained fit and trim? One of the reasons hormone balancing is so important is if your hormones are not optimized, your body will not respond to exercise the way it did when you were younger.
If you want optimal results in the gym and if you want to lose fat and build muscle, then you need optimal nutrition, sleep, stress reduction, exercise and optimal hormones.
If you've downgraded your definition of a good night's sleep to four hours, if you claim "the devil made you do it" when you break out in a hot flash and shout obscenities at the top of your lungs, or if you feel like doom and gloom have become your new best friends, then you should consider getting your hormones checked out so you can truly be in tune with the symphony of life.
(Connie Cook is the fitness director at Fit Athletic; fitathletic.com.)