Hormones are the body’s enzymatic messengers and are part of the endocrine system. Endocrine glands make hormones, which moves through the bloodstream to tissues and organs, acting as a sort of interactive control mechanism in conjunction with most of the body’s major systems.
The endocrine system controls heart rate and metabolism, appetite, mood, sexual function, reproduction, growth and development, and sleep cycles, among other things. Needless to say, hormones play a vital role in our body’s chemistry, transmitting messages between our organs and the cells of our body.
When in proper balance, hormones help the body thrive. On the other hand, hormonal imbalance, when hormones are either too high or low, can cause serious health problems. And the thing is…hormone imbalance can occur any time regardless of one’s age, sex or physique.
As a matter of fact, our habits, things we do everyday, and things we are exposed to every day, can directly affect hormone production and balance, especially for those who suffer from conditions like thyroid diseases. Sometimes, diet and exercise are not enough to prevent hormonal imbalance, if you are continuously or repeatedly exposed to things that can affect your hormones.
Here are some common things that can affect our hormones:
Physical touch from other humans—hugging, holding hands, massages and cuddling—can set off receptors, releasing a hormone called oxytocin. Studies show that a soft friendly touch reduces stress hormones while making the orbital frontal cortex light up, similar to other rewarding stimuli, like smelling pleasant fragrances or tasting good food.
Studies have determined that some cosmetic products may contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals. If you have a thyroid problem or an endocrine conditions, you should be looking to avoid products with ingredients such as formaldehyde, lead, oxybenzone.
These so-called disruptors are widely present in products like lipstick, sunscreen, nail polish, and make-up. Frequent trips to the beauty salon can also lead you to overexposure to these disruptors. Formaldehyde, for instance, is often used in permanent hair straightening treatments.
Travel can affect the hormones melatonin and cortisol. Even the slightest changes to your everyday routine, like waking up early one day and then sleeping late the next, can affect melatonin levels, studies suggest. Flying to far off destinations, going through different time zones, and continuously adapting to new environment and scenery during a trip, can disrupt hormonal balance. Travel can affect testosterone in men, while women may experience changes in their period cycles and ovulation schedules.
The excessive use of smartphones could pose several health risks. Among the ill consequences of overexposure to smartphones is hormonal suppression. While all kinds of light can affect hormones, the light emitted from electronic screens (known as blue light) is twice as powerful in suppressing hormones. Blue light can considerably decrease melatonin levels in the body, and melatonin influences circadian rhythms. Down the road, this can cause neurotoxin to build up and may eventually lead to depression.
Another common habit, pumping antibacterial sanitizers to clean our hands can actually be more harmful than good, studies show. Excessive use of hand sanitizers can weaken the immune system by altering the balance between good and bad bacteria.
Triclosan, an ingredient found in sanitizers, is thought to be the culprit, and suspected to negatively affect thyroid hormones, which could potentially lead to hypothyroidism. Furthermore, overexposure to hand sanitizers, deodorizers, disinfectants and sterilizers may be linked to the development of thyroid cancer, according to studies.