Chronic inflammation negatively effects every aspect of your health and it’s the root cause of arthritis, type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and most other chronic diseases.[i] There are many factors that contribute to chronic inflammation in the body, some of the most obvious of which include environmental toxins, poor diet, drugs, excess body weight, and stress. A less well-known but equally significant cause of chronic inflammation is hormone imbalances. Many hormones naturally decline with age, and a lot of the ‘old age’ diseases are inflammatory diseases. Below is a list of the top 4 hormone imbalances responsible for inflammation and a detailed guide on how to reverse them.
Estrogen has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body and a decrease in estrogen corresponds with a rise in the pro-inflammatory chemicals — cytokines interleukin-1 and interleukin-6. Estrogen helps quiet inflammation down in the joints, and it protects against many types of debilitating arthritis. When estrogen declines, chronic inflammation symptoms often occur for the first time, or if they already existed, the symptoms dramatically worsen. The natural decline of estrogen that occurs in menopause is the reason why many women experience joint pain for the first time at the onset of menopause.[ii]
Testosterone helps inhibit the expression and release of inflammatory cytokines and chemokines and thereby reduces inflammation.[iii] The increased risk for inflammatory diseases that occurs with aging is caused in part by the natural decline of testosterone that occurs. And studies indicate that testosterone supplementation reduces inflammatory markers in both young and old males with a testosterone deficiency.[iv] The fact that women have substantially lower testosterone levels, explains why woman are more susceptible then men to inflammatory diseases such as asthma, psoriasis and arthritis.[v]
Thyroid Hormone Deficiency
Hypothyroidism is a common, under-diagnosed condition that causes a deficiency of thyroid hormones. This can lead to inflammation because thyroid hormones help to prevent oxidative stress in the body, and oxidative stress is a major cause of inflammation.[vi] Inflammation also causes poor thyroid function, and there is a vicious cycle where inflammation reduces thyroid hormone production, and the reduced hormones increases inflammation.[vii] Worth noting is the fact that most conventional doctors only measure TSH levels when testing for hypothyroidism but this test fails to diagnose the majority of hypothyroid cases. If you have hypothyroid symptoms such as fatigue, cold hands, slow metabolism and constipation, we therefore recommend that you have a complete thyroid panel test done.
Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is produced by the adrenal glands and its primary role is to help your body deal with stress. Cortisol helps to reduce inflammation, and a deficiency can lead to chronic inflammation. A surplus of cortisol can also cause inflammation in a few different ways. Long-term elevated cortisol levels caused by things such as chronic stress damages your body and inflammation levels rise in effort to repair the damage. Elevated cortisol also causes an increase in blood sugar levels, which leads to more inflammation. Finally, elevated cortisol leads to weight gain, and excess fat cells increase inflammation.[viii] [ix]
Safe and Effective Solutions:
Take Herbs and/or Nutraceuticals
There are many useful herbs (Maca, Saw palmetto, Ashwagandha etc.) when it comes to balancing hormones, and an herbalist, functional medicine practitioner, or Naturopath can help you choose the best one for your hormonal condition. Nutraceutical supplements that target specific hormonal imbalances can also be tremendously helpful, and there are many wholefoods based, physician-formulated ones available here: https://delgadoprotocol.com/shop-home/
Consume a Hormone Balancing Diet
Consume a whole-foods based diet high in deeply-pigmented fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices. Animal products are loaded with hormones and consuming them can throw your own hormonal balance out of whack. You should therefore eliminate or vastly reduce your intake of meat and dairy. You should also eliminate flour products, sugar, alcohol and packaged and fried foods, as well as oils, and trans fats. Don’t avoid all fats though – healthy fats are the building blocks of hormones, and you should consume 15 to 30 grams of them a day. Good sources of healthy fats include: nuts, seeds, avocadoes, coconuts, and olives.
Dietary Recommendations for Specific Hormones Imbalances
If you have low estrogen, consume plant-based estrogens (phytoestrogens) such as organic unprocessed soy products, yams, flaxseeds, oats, and lentils. If your testosterone is low, include red grapes, pomegranates, garlic, pumpkin seeds, chick peas, beans and cruciferous veggies in your diet. If you have an underactive thyroid, consume magnesium rich foods (e.g. leafy greens, almonds, avocado, and cocoa) and iodine rich foods (e.g. kelp, sea vegetables, cranberries, and strawberries). And to balance cortisol levels, avoid sugar, caffeine and other stimulants, and consume something small every three hours.
The healthiest diet in the world won’t do an ounce of good if you’re not properly digesting and absorbing the nutrients you consume. To optimize digestion, mix together 1 tbsp. of raw apple cider vinegar with 3 tbsp. of water and drink the mixtures 20 minutes before each meal. Probiotic rich foods are also essential for maintaining gut health, and thus maximizing the absorption of important nutrients. Try to consume at least one probiotic-rich food every day, such as: kimchi, kefir, kombucha tea, fermented vegetables, sauerkraut, pickles, tempeh, and miso.
If you have a severe hormone deficiency the above recommendations will be helpful, but you may require hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to fully restore hormonal balance. Bioidentical hormones are far safer, more natural and effective than the artificial hormones used in conventional HRT. A functional medicine practitioner or naturopath can write you a prescription for bioidentical hormones and a compounding pharmacy can formulate one that is tailored to your unique hormonal requirements.