Cholesterol and Hormone Production
I listened to a podcast not too long ago with Daniel Vitalis on Extreme Health Radio called Build a Strong Foundation For Your Hormone Health. He offered up some suggestions to help build a solid foundation for a balanced hormonal environment and I’d like to share what I learned from him with you.
First and foremost, Daniel pointed out that all steroid hormones are synthesized out of cholesterol in the gonads (ovaries or testes) and the adrenal glands. These hormones include adrogens, estrogens, progestagens, cortisol and Vitamin D.
These important hormones help control metabolism, inflammation, immune functions, salt and water balance and the ability to withstand illness and injury. Cortisol is involved in regulating blood sugar levels and defending your body against infection.
Your body also uses cholesterol to make bile — an important fluid made in your liver and stored in your gallbladder. Bile is very important for immune functioning and digestive health. Your body needs bile in order to absorb vitamins A, D, E and K.
Your liver makes up 75% of the cholesterol needed; however our livers these days tend to be taxed from alcohol, pharmaceuticals, environmental and food toxins and unprocessed emotions (especially anger); so we may not be producing as much cholesterol as needed.
Cholesterol is NOT a Bad Thing
So an important step to achieving hormonal balance is to ensure your body has enough cholesterol to produce these steroid hormones. The rest of the needed cholesterol has to be consumed through food.
This information can sound contradictory to much of what is shared about cholesterol levels. The media supplies a consistent message that high cholesterol causes heart disease.
According to Daniel, this is a grave misconception. Cholesterol is responsible for tissue repair. Heart disease is not caused by the presence of it. Cholesterol is present in those with heart disease because of the damage already done. The cholesterol is there to try and repair it.
By depriving your body of cholesterol (by eating just carbohydrates and sugar instead), metabolism goes into famine mode, causing the liver to overproduce cholesterol in order to make up the difference.
Foods high in cholesterol include:
- egg yolks
- oil packed fish (sardines)
Saturated fats also help raise cholesterol. Good sources of these include:
- coconut oil
- olive oil
While these saturated fats are beneficial, I think it important to note that trans saturated fats are not a good choice. Trans fats are anything that shows as “hydrogenated”. These oils cause an inflammatory reaction in the body and should always be avoided.
Other Hormone Balancing Recommendations
In addition to making sure the body is getting enough cholesterol to produce enough steroid hormones, Daniel made some additional recommendations to help build a foundation for hormone balance.
One of these critical factors is ensuring the body gets enough sleep. It is important to get at least eight hours of restful sleep per night. Check out a previous post I did on tips to get a good night’s sleep.
According to Daniel, with deficient sleep, hormone production goes down. Poor sleeping habits long term can cause significant impacts on hormone balance.
Another important component to hormonal balance is reducing and managing stress. When the body is in a constant state of stress then hormone production decreases, including the all important hormone progesterone (a big deal for endometriosis).
To help reduce stress and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, Daniel suggests activities like meditation, yoga, chi gong and time relaxing in the sauna.
Another factor in the foundation for hormone balance is vitamin D. Vitamin D is best absorbed from the sun, but in the winter months the necessary dosage is not available, so Daniel recommends supplementing. Vitamin D ensures that hormone production is kept high.
On the Positive Side?
The interplay of hormones are critical on the road to healing endometriosis — a condition fueled by bad estrogens and/or low progesterone.
Daniel made a point to say that the hormonal balance process requires patience. I appreciate his notion that eventually the body will balance itself out given proper nutrients and components.
The endocrine system is complicated and a lot goes into a proper functioning system, but I think his suggestions are a great starting point to building a solid foundation for hormonal balance.
I’ve shifted focus back to my sleep habits and stress management as I know from experience that this plays a key role in my own health. I also feel much better when I am incorporating good fats in my diet. I find it very interesting that this factor is key to proper hormone production.
What about you? Have you tried implementing Daniel’s suggestions and found a positive response? Do you supplement with Vitamin D? Or focus on getting enough sleep? Do you incorporate a high fat diet? Has this helped you?
I’d love to hear from you…..