Top 5 Most Common Hormone Imbalances and How to Fix Them

April 24, 2017

Top 5 Most Common Hormone Imbalances and How to Fix Them

The word “hormonal” is used much more than it is understood. Hormone imbalance symptoms come in many forms. Further, hormone imbalance in women can look different than a hormone imbalance in men.

What exactly are these hormone issues? The infamous, invisible mood changers? Or the mysterious aches or fatigue we might feel? Is “hangry” a hormone? Is sleep-deprivation a real source of crankiness? Does chocolate help or hurt during that time of month?

In this article:

  • Find out what hormones different in your body do, and why they’re important.
  • “Hangry” no more! Learn what your body is really trying to tell you with those sudden unexplained emotional spikes.
  • Easy solutions for everyday hormone imbalances.
  • Learn the imbalances masquerading as weight loss/gain, sleep issues, blood sugar fluctuation and even depression

Endocrine System

In simplest terms, a hormone is a chemical secreted by any gland in the endocrine system (endocrine literally means to “sift” or “sort”). A gland sends these chemical messages, known as hormones, throughout the body to initiate basic functions. These chemical triggers can also be associated with good and bad emotion.

An animal in the wild needs these hormonal hints to sort out when to take care of its body amidst the constant life and death distractions of its environment. As humans, we have a plethora of mental and physical distractions to deal with—late nights at the office, drinks with friends, relationship troubles, rush hour traffic, artificial food additives—all in all, a lot more ways to miss a simpler signal that says “eat! sleep!” And though we consider ourselves more evolved, we must remember that our bodies are more than just transportation for our busy heads!

When these silent agents of the body are imbalanced, they can cause a lot of commotion in and outside the body. In fact, poor emotional health often indicates physical distress masquerading as bad feelings. We can blame hyperactivity in children on that extra scoop of ice cream, but we forget that a double-strength caramel latte in place of lunch results in something much worse than a fit of giggles in adults.

Not sleeping well? Living on ramen and soda like a college kid? Chalking up that weight gain to middle age? Many problems we brush off as “just how it is” come from hormone production being too high or too low. The trouble with that is these imbalances can be cumulative, starting out with a bad habit, getting worse and worse until you end up with a thyroid condition, heart disease, chronic weight gain or weight loss, and the most common yet equally dangerous ailment: irregular sleep.

Here are the top five hormones related to how the body regulates itself:

ghrelin hormone1. Ghrelin: ghrelin is responsible for the rumbles in the stomach, signaling it’s time to eat. It’s secreted in small amounts by the pancreas (see illustration above) and stomach lining cells, but when it’s imbalanced, one still feels hungry even after a big meal, which can lead to overeating.
The two main ways to regulate this hormone are to switch to a high fiber diet (hint! try adding wheatgrass to your routine!) and to get at least 7 hours of sleep. Lowering stress can also be a factor in this hormone’s imbalance. Taking a B6 vitamin helps production of serotonin which helps depression and anxiety moods. An overall B-Complex supplement covers the B’s, and curbs that signal to the brain that yells, “you want to eat the cake.”

Listen up, ladies! For that time of month, packing a bottle of quick-dissolve high potency B6 and B12 combination lozenges in your purse can often curb PMS, stress, sleep issues, anemia and sugar cravings. Pop those like candy, instead of candy.

leptin hormone2. Leptin: leptin is ghrelin’s opposite. Leptin is secreted by adipose tissue, also called fat cells. Adipose tissue is all over the body and is an endocrine organ that helps many parts of the body. Leptin is just one of the hormones it secretes. This hormone signals to shut off that feeling of hunger, telling your body it’s satisfied. It’s the hormone that kicks in to burn fat. Eating automatically or before you’re hungry, or ignoring those rumblings for long periods can cause your body to confuse the hungry and full signals, or stop generating them at appropriate times.

The Problem: Like a busy freeway system, your body is running electrical and chemical signals in all directions at all times and needs to keep them organized, or you’ll wind up with nasty delays, and the occasional pile-up. You may have experienced one or two of those…a big fight just before dinner? Aimless depression after a week or a month of sleepless nights? Your hunger and satiety signals may be out of whack.

The Solution: Slowing down, chewing your food completely and taking time to breathe between bites to oxygenate your blood helps your leptin catch up with you. Quick bites standing over the sink before work, drinking caffeinated and/or sweetened beverages trick your body into thinking it’s had food when its take in nothing of nutritional value.

You also may be confusing thirst with hunger, bewildering your ghrelin signals even further. Drink up that H20 before diving into the potato chip bag.
insulin hormone3. Insulin: the hormone that makes carbohydrates into sugar and stores it to be used as energy. The pancreas secrets this well-known hormone as well. Insulin is a big part of what makes it possible for us to have a storage system of energy. If we don’t use all of it at once after we eat, Insulin puts it away so we can access it when needed.

The Problem:
When insulin is imbalanced, people experience hyperglycemia (too high) and hypoglycemia (too low), which are fancy words for blood sugar levels. Feel fatigued despite eating and sleeping well? Blood sugar levels might be out of sorts.

The Solution: The best way to fight the blood sugar war is to change what you eat. Like handling ghrelin imbalances, start with a fiber-rich diet. Whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables, and brown rice are excellent foods with high fiber. You may also add a fiber supplement such as Nurtured by Nature Organic Wheatgrass Powder. Fiber helps to slow the conversion of food into sugar, leveling out the blood sugar and preventing those unwanted spikes.
 cortisol hormone4. Cortisol: the “fight or flight” hormone that tells the brain to get up in the morning. In the brain there are various glands that produce hormones. The pituitary gland sends the message to the adrenal glands (see illustration) to produce cortisol. Stress triggers this hormone and can disturb sleeping habits, causing the body to be sluggish at the wrong times, or a sense of mania when you’re trying to sleep.

The Problem
: Cortisol also is produced to deal with low blood sugar. It’s a responsive (reactionary) hormone. Exhaustion and nervousness can come of a cortisol imbalance in either direction.

The Solution: Forcing oneself to get on a good sleeping schedule is an important way to maintain cortisol levels. If blood sugar is managed through diet, it should benefit the cortisol levels as well. When sleeping isn’t the problem, consider eating more whole foods instead of processed. Too much refined sugar can cause cortisol to increase disproportionately.

adiponectin hormone5. Adiponectin: the hormone that regulates sugar, fats, and metabolism. This chemical is also sent out by adipose tissue (the fatty cells) in the body that live under the skin, around organs, and in the breasts

The Problem: When this hormone is too low, weight gain can occur.
The Solution: Exercise is best way to increase adiponectin levels. Start getting the body moving. The best foods for it are avocados, peanuts, lean beef, and fish oil.

There’s a pattern with these hormones. They require sleep, exercise, and a whole food diet. When one hormone is out of sync, it affects the rest of the body. With how busy people are today, it’s not our first inclination to maintain good sleep, exercise and eat a healthy diet. It’s so easy to grab some fast food and push through a long day with some caffeine. But taking time for yourself pays off in the end.

Though we aren’t born with instruction manuals, (wouldn’t that be nice!) you can still listen to your body and do what it says, when it says. Hormones and glands are just one part of our intricate inner workings. We drive around in a pretty miraculous biological machine that fixes itself when treated well and given the right fuel.

It may take some time and practice to turn up the volume of that silent voice, but it’s well worth listening to.

Remember, your family relies on your good health as much as you do! Take some you-time, get in touch with your body’s rhythms and get back to a better you!


Sarah Cole is a writer, cat lover and avid tea drinker from a growing family of six. She loves green spaces, her new blender, and is saving up for a whirlwind tour of Italy with her girlfriend, Tivis.

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