Men, are your hormones slacking?

Published On: Apr 24 2012 06:53:56 AM PDT   Updated On: May 10 2012 08:11:56 AM PDT
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You might remember hormones from your teen years. But they're still a big part of your life whether you realize it or not. Off-kilter hormone distribution can make you store too much fat, hamper your ability to fight stress, and cause you to eat when you're full. It can lead to metabolic syndrome and diabetes and can adversely affect your sleep and sex life. Here are some of the top hormones you can affect through healthy living.


Stress Hormones: Cortisol and Epinephrine

Cortisol and epinephrine are your body's alarm-system hormones. They make your heart beat faster to respond to stress and release fat and glucose into your bloodstream to provide emergency energy. But too much stress can keep your cortisol elevated and signal your cells to store as much fat as possible. To regulate your cortisol levels, make a habit of exercising for an hour a day, three days a week.


Weight Hormones: Leptin, Ghrelin, CCK, Insulin

This army of hormones tells you when to eat and when to put the fork down. When you put on extra weight, you start secreting excess leptin. And if you secrete a lot of leptin on a chronic basis, it should tell your brain, "You need to cut back." But disruptions in leptin (mostly from too much sugar) instead tell your brain to send out hunger signals, even if you've just eaten. This can lead to fatty liver disease and insulin resistance. And when your insulin goes up, it blocks leptin signaling, which means your brain thinks you're starving. It's the start of a wicked cycle.


Beyond losing weight, your best defense against leptin disruption is to reduce your sugar intake. Americans consume an average of 22 teaspoons of sugar a day; the American Heart Association recommends that men eat no more than 9.


Sex Hormones: Testosterone, LH, FSH

Testosterone is the key ingredient for normal sexual health in men. Its production is prompted by something called luteinizing hormone (LH), while the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) helps produce the actual sperm. Elevated estrogen levels can eclipse your testosterone, zapping sex drive. (Yes, men have estrogen, too.) Because fat converts your testosterone to estrogen, your best defense against an estrogen invasion is to lose weight and build muscle.


Sleep Hormone: Melatonin

When the sun goes down, your pineal gland switches on like clockwork to secrete melatonin, a hormone that helps you fall asleep and regulates your circadian rhythm. It lowers your core body temperature, which if too high promotes wakefulness. Production of melatonin peaks in the middle of the night, and even very low levels of artificial light can disrupt the process.


You don't have to be asleep to have good melatonin rhythm, but you do need to be in the dark. Buy heavy curtains, cover your alarm clock, keep a small nightlight in the bathroom, and turn off gadgets. You'll feel brighter in the morning.


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Source: Pure Matters