Hormones are made in the body by a special group of cells called endocrine glands like pituitary gland, thyroid and adrenal glands. They are the chemical messengers that travel to various organs and tissues through the bloodstream. Hormones are strong in nature and only a very small amount of them is required to bring about considerable changes in the body. Any change in the level of production of hormones in the glands can cause the wrong messages to be sent to the other parts of the body. This will have unintended results within the body. Such a situation is called hormone imbalance. It is not to be associated with a particular gender or age. It can happen in anyone from birth till death. But as we age, these changes are more pronounced and results in significant differences in our physical and mental health. Causes of such hormone imbalances are varied. In men, diet and nutrition is one important cause. Hormone levels in men are usually influenced by the level of fat and fiber content. High levels of saturated fats which come from sources like red meat, processed food, refined sugar products and hydrogenated oils result in hormonal imbalance.
When the diet does not contain the right amounts of minerals like zinc, copper and selenium, it can cause such imbalance as these minerals play an important part in hormone production in men. Substance abuse involving cigarettes, drugs and alcohol and stress are the other factors influencing the production of key hormones in men. In women it is caused by estrogen dominance, usage of birth control pills, overuse of non organic animal products and cosmetics, pregnancy and lactation. Some medical causes like tumors, obesity and genetics also cause such imbalances in women. Some of the symptoms of hormone imbalance are common to both men and women. They include skin problems like acne, fatigue, mood swings, diminished libido and memory, persistent weight gains and insomnia. Hormonal imbalances can result in loss of muscle mass and can cause irritability, anxiety and depression. It can also increase dryness in the mouth, genitalia and eyes and cause abnormal heartbeat in women. When the imbalance becomes more severe, serious disorders like arthritis, fibromyalgia, anxiety attacks and chronic fatigue syndrome can occur.
In modern medicine, this type of imbalance can be treated by hormone replacement therapy or HRT. This treatment has side effects attributed to it It is essential for us to understand the benefits, risks and impacts of this treatment before we undergo them.