Are Your Hormones Sabotaging Your Health?


How Your Hormones Sabotage Your Health

It is the start of 2018 and with a New Year many people are focusing on losing weight, improving their health and being the best person they can be, but what happens when you struggle to achieve these goals?

One of the biggest reasons that I hear from clients whose motivation falls by the wayside a few weeks into the New Year is that they are too tired, meaning they are too tired to exercise, too tired to eat right and too tired to stay motivated on their health journey.

After a couple of weeks of eating well and exercising, but still feeling flat and fatigued it is hard to keep up the motivation to continue to workout and eat well!

So what is sabotaging your health goals? Often the answer lies in your hormones.

The 4 Hormones that can sabotage your health goals

There are 4 main hormones that can affect your ability to lose weight, cause chronic fatigue like symptoms, lead to low mood and many other health symptoms. These 4 hormones are Insulin, Thyroid hormone, the adrenal hormone cortisol, and the sex hormones, so let’s look at these in more detail.

How High Insulin Levels Sabotage Your Health

High insulin is associated with type 2 diabetes, but many people can have pre-diabetes for years without even knowing it, as this is often missed in the standard pathology tests. High insulin leads to what is known as “insulin resistance”, not only does this make losing weight hard to do, but often you are left feeling fatigued, craving carbohydrates and having a hard time sticking to a good diet.

How Low Thyroid Hormones Sabotage Your Health

Low thyroid problems also take a long time to be diagnosed by doctors, and often people can be experiencing low thyroid symptoms for years yet are told that everything is “fine”. This is because doctors only check your TSH levels, and only if there is a problem with the TSH do they do further testing on the more important free T4 and free T3 thyroid hormones.

Low thyroid function will cause weight gain, fatigue, skin and hair problems and other health issues, the best way to see if your thyroid is sabotaging your health goals is with a comprehensive thyroid test.

How Adrenal Dysfunction Can Sabotage Your Health

Cortisol is the main adrenal hormone, and in the right balance it helps with immune function, inflammation, stress and has a positive influence on other hormones like insulin. But when your cortisol levels are too high, or too low it can disrupt other hormones leading to many different symptoms that come with being “stressed out”!

Adrenal problems will lead to insomnia, fatigue, anxiety and depression, weight gain (or loss for some people), inflamed joints and many other symptoms, even though all of your blood tests may come back normal. The best way to test your adrenal function is with the DUTCH Hormone test which assesses your total cortisol plus your free cortisol levels, the DUTCH test also measures your sex hormones.

How the Sex Hormones Sabotage your Health

The main sex hormones are estrogen, progesterone and testosterone and when in balance they work together in harmony, but if one or more of the hormones is too high or too low it can lead to many different health symptoms.

An imbalance in your sex hormones can cause PMS, fluid retention, weight gain, depression and affect your motivation to stay on track with a diet and exercise plan. This can affect both men and women, with one of the most common hormone imbalances being high estrogen levels.

How to Test Your Hormones

Hormones can be tested with a blood, urine or saliva test and the best method depends on which hormones you would like to get tested.

The thyroid hormones are best tested with a blood sample, but it is important to do a comprehensive thyroid test that includes TSH, free T4, free T3, reverse T3 and the thyroid antibodies. If you have trouble getting this test done through your doctor there are many private labs that will do this test for you without a referral from your doctor.

The adrenal and sex hormones can be tested using blood, saliva or urine and the most comprehensive way to assess these hormones is the DUTCH hormone test. This test measures the total hormone levels plus how your body is metabolizing these hormones, this helps you to understand why your hormones might be high and helps with a treatment plan to get your hormones back in balance.

Treating a Hormone Imbalance

The first step is having the right diagnosis which is why the hormone testing is important, the next step is to address the underlying cause of your hormone imbalance.

Focusing on a quality diet, good sleep habits and stress reduction is a must, and there are also specific herbs and nutrients that can help to improve your hormones.

I always recommend starting with the natural treatment options first because often this will give you great results, later if you still need help balancing your hormones then hormone replacement therapy maybe an option.

Resources & Research

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Naturopath and Functional Medicine at Planet Naturopath
Michael Smith is a Naturopath and Functional Medicine Practitioner at Planet Naturopath. Specializing in anxiety and depression, hormonal disorders and digestive function. Michael works with clients throughout the world from the chronically ill to athletes wanting to improve performance. Consultations are available via video or phone and we use functional pathology testing to identify the root cause of your health problems rather than treating the symptoms, find out more at