With 2019 now underway, many people embrace a “new year-new you” attitude. They’re determined to make self-improvements that provide a fresh, positive outlook and strong sense of well-being.
But sometimes health factors undermine those good intentions, such as depression and its link to hormone imbalances. There are myriad ways both men and women suffer adverse effects to their hormones, says Don Colbert, M.D., and many of them are avoidable.
“We are exposed to thousands of toxic chemicals on a regular basis in the air, water and food,” says Colbert (https://drcolbert.com), author of Dr. Colbert’s Hormone Health Zone. “Some of them are hormone disruptors because they disturb your endocrine system, wreaking havoc and creating hormonal imbalances.
“Not only are the effects of all these disruptors depressing to think about; they actually cause depression, along with countless other ailments such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and more. But the basic principle is this: decreasing the number of disruptions will improve your health.”
Dr. Colbert breaks down the top hormone disruptors affecting men and women along with ways to minimize the disruption or stop it:
• Lifestyle choices. “Whether it’s weight gain and a lack of exercise, anger and unforgiveness, drinking too much alcohol or some other thing that can be controlled, your hormone levels drop and you begin a slow slide to poorer health,” Dr. Colbert says. “Make better choices, and that dramatically decreases the chances of having any hormone deficiency symptoms.”
• Medications. Medications affect the body’s cells, and sometimes side effects manifest in major problems. For example, Dr. Colbert cites Mayo Clinic research showing a prescription statin drug that lowered cholesterol could result in liver damage, memory loss or type 2 diabetes. “I estimate that 55 percent of the entire US population is taking pills that directly and negatively affect hormone levels,” Dr. Colbert says. “Get off these harmful medications you hate.”
• Things you touch. Chemicals entering the body through the skin can cause long-term damage. Dr. Colbert notes phthalates, disruptors found in household cleaners, cosmetics, toys and numerous other products. “Phthalates negatively affect both men’s and women’s ability to use the testosterone that is in our bodies,” Dr. Colbert says. “Another is BPA (bisphenol A), found on the inside of metal-canned foods and plastic food-storing containers. Specifically, BPA has been found to cause or contribute to cancer, fertility problems, developmental issues and heart disease. I recommend buying glass jars of food and storing in ceramic containers.”
• Diet deficiencies. “The standard American diet is usually low in key nutrients that support a healthy thyroid,” Dr. Colbert says. “Many patients with hormone imbalances have low iodine. The best solution is eat more vegetables, ideally raw or steamed.”
• Aging. Dr. Colbert says estrogen levels for women begin to decline around the age of 50; for men, testosterone levels can drop low around age 45-50. “Aging is a natural combatant as a hormone disruptor,” he says, “but we can slow the acceleration of the effects of aging by optimizing our hormones. Healthy habits can make a huge difference.”
“Symptoms of serious problems indicated by hormonal imbalance can be reversed by those who focus on health in their diet, lifestyle and living environment,” Dr. Colbert says. “Then they can enable all of their systems to function optimally.”
Don Colbert, M.D. (https://drcolbert.com), is the author of Dr. Colbert’s Hormone Health Zone. He has been a board-certified family practice doctor for more than 25 years.