Most people have a negative perception of hormones. They think of teenagers having fits of anger and menopausal women having hot flashes. But balanced hormones are essential for a healthy body. The word hormone is derived from the Greek word hormon, meaning “to urge on, excite, or stimulate.” And this is exactly what they do. Hormones initiate and regulate the functioning of our cells. Made in various organs, they’re carried all over the body through the bloodstream.
Unfortunately, when it comes to assessing and treating hormonal imbalances, the conventional medical approach to endocrine problems is not very refined. Gross deficiencies and excesses of hormones can be successfully identified and treated. But subtle or early stages of hormonal imbalance are rarely detected—and therefore are not treated. At this stage of scientific knowledge, measuring blood levels of hormones is the only conventionally accepted way to make assessments. But more often than not, however, there are problems in hormonal functioning long before we can detect any abnormalities in the blood.
The two classic examples of this are thyroid dysfunction and adrenal fatigue, both of which are extremely common and probably two of the commonest problems I see in my practice. They both present with fatigue and both can be helped by a functional approach. My experience has shown me that balancing these two systems makes a huge difference in most people’s health because all your hormones work together, so when one hormone is off, it can have a domino affect and cause imbalances of all the other hormones. Very often the problem is an imbalanced system rather than a deficiency of any hormones.
Dr. Lipman: You say in your book that obesity is not from eating too many calories or expending too few. Can you explain?
Dr. Fung: Obesity is often considered a problem of excessive calories. This caloric obsession has been indoctrinated into all of us since we were children. Too many calories in, too few calories out, or some combination is what we believe leads to weight gain and obesity. If it were indeed true that excess calories leads to weight gain, then the solution is simple: Reduce calories eaten. This has formed the standard dietary advice of the last 50 years. And it has failed spectacularly. Obesity rates have skyrocketed upward despite continual exhortations to cut calories.
If you’re in a position in which you can plan and prepare for pregnancy, there’s so much you can do to optimize both your chances of getting pregnant and your own nutrients to nurture a healthy baby with ease. When it comes to fertility and pregnancy, there are a lot of things that feel out of our control but how you treat your own body and what you eat are in your control. Give yourself time to prepare and allow space in your life, both emotionally and physically.
Although Crisco appeared on American grocery store shelves as early as 1911, the popularity of hydrogenated vegetable oils, or trans fats, including margarine and shortening, soared between the 1950s and the 1980s, as the demonization of saturated fats consumed the medical establishment.
So often, patients drag themselves into my office complaining of multiple symptoms like thinning hair, brittle nails, erupting skin, poor sleep, exhaustion, constipation, sexual or menstrual dysfunction and weight gain. These are all clues that can suggest hormonal imbalance – several different types.
Struggling to lose weight? Here are 6 things you may not be considering.
Primary Hypothyroidism, or under-active thyroid gland, may cause a wide variety of symptoms and can affect all bodily functions.
Hypothyroidism used to be a laboratory diagnosis. A high TSH blood test signified that one had an underactive thyroid and was placed on synthetic T4 (aka Synthroid). Clinical diagnosis was reserved for people with advanced or severe hypothyroid disease, and even then, if labs were not “abnormal” physicians might have hesitated to treat. Functional medicine physicians are changing this practice by identifying the signs, symptoms, and cause of hypothyroidism early on and starting appropriate treatment.
Supplements – in my book, they’re essential health-boosters that can help fill in nutritional gaps and protect your body against the occasional diet slip-up. While they won’t make up for a bad diet, think of supplements as your nutritional pit crew, standing at the ready to make those quick adjustments, tweaks and fixes to your internal engines and get you back out on the road, raring to go.
Sometimes, pharmaceutical companies and their doctorly friends collectively make a bold move that shows their hand. Usually, this is in the form of indiscriminately and categorically broadening the eligible candidates for the suddenly lifesaving benefits of a pre-existing product. Recent changes in guidelines put forth by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology aim to expand the recommendations of lipid-modifying statins to include those for whom there is a stated “10-year risk of 7.5 percent or more” of cardiac events, based on a calculator that now eliminates LDL targets.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a debilitating condition characterized by severe and long lasting exhaustion, but it can also manifest in symptoms of sleep disturbance, memory and concentration difficulties, widespread muscle and joint pain, headaches, and extreme tiredness following any physical or mental exertion. It is estimated that over 25 million Americans have severe fatigue, lasting at least one month at any time.
Usually when we talk about toxins in personal products, we focus on women. After all, they typically use more personal care products on a daily basis. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted in one study that exposure to phthalates (a plastic chemical linked to hormone disruption) was widespread, but higher in women than men. The researchers stated that women had more phthalates used in “soaps, body washes, shampoos, cosmetics, and similar personal care products.”
According to the University of Illinois, the average woman in the United States uses 12 products a day. But women aren’t the only ones. The average man uses six.