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Why Are Hormones So Important

On Empty

Why Are Hormones So Important

As seen in Memphis Health and Fitness Magazine

Are there times when you feel like you’re running on empty?

A good analogy for hormone levels is to compare them to a fuel gauge on your car. Many people are driving around, almost on empty. The low fuel warning light may not have gone off yet in the form of illness and disease, but you can tell something is not quite right. “Is this just part of getting older? Am I under too much stress?” Most hormone levels do decline with age, and stress can lower your hormone levels as well. The body has to make the stress hormone, cortisol, out of something. Since many of your hormones share common precursors, when you are in survival mode and cortisol is high, many of the beneficial hormones responsible for maintaining health and well-being can become depleted. What if there was a way to top off your tank, and provide a buffer against the unexpected potholes and roadblocks that you will face in life?

Hormones: can’t live with them, can’t live without them.

Simply stated, a hormone is any chemical signal produced in one part of the body that signals a certain response, or regulates activity in another part of the body. For an individual with Type I diabetes going without insulin can be fatal. While not as life-threatening, the loss of hormones during menopause can really impact a women’s quality of life. Keeping your hormones balanced and in check, by having the appropriate levels at the appropriate times, is essential for overall health and well-being. We are not necessarily looking for the high hormone levels common during the teenage years or pregnancy, but we do want to have the energy levels and motivation needed in order to live our lives to the fullest.

In addition to promoting proper nutrition and regular exercise, evaluating hormone levels in both men and women has become an essential part of the wellness and preventive care that I provide as a physician. Through the optimization of critical, key hormones in both men and women we are able to combat illness, stress, and aging by taking a proactive approach. In the traditional medical model little care is provided to help patients go above and beyond to obtain their highest level of health possible. Patients are often reassured that their lab values are “normal” when they fall within the average range. For hormone levels, often “normal” only means that your hormones are just as bad as everyone else’s. Why settle for average or normal when we can safely, effectively, and affordably help you become optimal?

Thyroid function is a critical area in which optimal is clearly the best route to improving health and quality of life.  I recently had a patient tell me her thyroid function has always been “right on the border” of being too low, so she was never treated. Another way of stating this is that for the past several years her thyroid function has been “barely adequate.” Is that any way to live the healthiest life possible? Basic lab tests will not always show an abnormal thyroid function, even when the patient is clearly experiencing symptoms of decreased thyroid levels. These symptoms include fatigue, weight gain, dry skin and hair, as well as depression and mood disorders. Many patients under my care have improved tremendously by treating their hypothyroid symptoms despite “normal” lab testing. When we help regulate and balance the body’s hormone levels we are able to address many root causes, and not just treat the symptoms.

Most people look at hypertension, obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, PCOS, endometriosis, infertility, fatigue, and mood disorders as diseases in and of themselves, and not as symptoms of an underlying hormonal dysfunction. It is always rewarding when we are able to safely discontinue prescription medications, because we have been able to achieve a superior result using natural, bioidentical hormones. Maintaining excellent progesterone levels in women, and testosterone levels in men is very important for quality of life and overall well-being. Many women come to me after trying diet pills, antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, and sleeping pills without much improvement in their symptoms. By correcting an underlying progesterone deficiency we can address most of their concerns. I see a similar improvement in middle-aged men who aren’t deficient in antidepressants, but are lacking adequate testosterone levels to feel their best.

Once you start to feel better, we go one step further. We look at the lifestyle factors that may have contributed to your metabolic dysfunction in the first place. We have a registered dietitian on staff to work with you on a customized nutrition plan, should you need help to incorporate new lifestyle changes. Apart from nutrition, aging, stress, exercise, sleep, hydration, underlying autoimmune conditions, and a toxic environment are some of the other main factors that influence health and well-being. We won’t overwhelm you by trying to tackle everything at once, but over time we can work with you to help you create balance and regain control of your life and overall health. Your customized plan, unique to only you, will serve as a roadmap for recovery, healing, and optimal health.

– Jeremy Draper, MD

Featured image by Laffy4k