Article by: Dr. Amy Lindsey, ND originally posted on City Sweats
Having healthy hormones is vital to overall health. Hormones are not exclusive to themselves operating on their own. They work in concert with all systems in your body.
The health of our hormones is influenced by both genetic coding & our lifestyle & environment. Regardless of the genes we inherit, they are not our destiny. How we nurture our health through nutrition, movement, reducing stress, limited exposure to environmental toxins & how much we sweat. Yes, sweating will help us move dial to overall hormone health.
The environment we live in industrialized at a much faster pace than our evolution. While it’s true our bodies are amazing & can handle some toxins & pollution as we are set up to get rid of them in small amounts. However, most people will have an overload of toxic burden on their bodies, & specifically this influences genetic expression & hormone metabolism & detoxification. Furthermore, we live in a stressful modern world that has our sympathetic nervous system in overdrive & contributing to chronic stress. We need stress to survive, but constantly being in “survival mode” is damaging to our health & our hormones.
As we age, the impact of environmental toxins & stress on our bodies has a significant impact to the health of our hormones.
So, what do we do?
Our bodies need to sweat to help take the trash out. Our liver & kidneys & lungs also share this burden. If we are not also sweating, then we are giving all the work to our liver, kidneys & lungs. Sweating is an essential component of overall health, including detoxification & hormonal balance.
So, what do we mean by hormonal balance? This phrase gets thrown around a lot. Here are some specific examples.
1. Estrogen Dominance. Estrogen Dominance is when we have too much estrogen or estrogenic metabolites or estrogen mimickers known as xenoestrogens. Symptoms of Estrogen Dominance can be painful or tender breast tissue, heavy periods, fibroids, endometriosis, water retention, depressed mood, anxious thoughts, sleep disruption, low libido & fatigue. Sound familiar to anyone?
Estrogen Dominance affects millions of humans. It could be caused by our nature (genes) or our nurture (environment, lifestyle, stress) or both. If it’s in your genes, this does not mean it’s in your destiny. You can use many lifestyle & nutrition choices to help shift this process in the body. One way to do that is by regularly sweating.
Estrogen goes through 3 phases of a metabolic detoxification process in the body. The first 2 are in the liver known as phase I detoxification (using the Cytochrome P-450 Enzymes) & phase II detoxification (conjugation to an excretable form), & the 3rd is how the Estrogen metabolites get OUT of the body. In other words, which exits are open to get it out! Exits include bodily functions such as how well we poop, or if our kidneys can send metabolites out in the urine, or even via SWEATING through the skin. By regularly sweating, you will help the overall toxic burden on the liver & support estrogen detoxification. If our exits are backed up, then these harmful estrogen metabolites continue in circulation in the body. Sweating helps get toxins out via the skin & reduces the burden of toxic overload to the liver & kidneys.
2. Xenoestrogens/ BPA. A well-known toxin in our environment is BPA. Bisphenol A (BPA) is a known xenoestrogen (estrogen mimicker) that influences Estrogen receptors in the body inducing Estrogen Dominance. BPA is also found in sweat which shows us that sweating is one way we can rid our body of it. We have discovered that harmful BPA is found all over our environment in canned food, hard plastics such as baby bottles or water bottles, in plastic microwaveable containers & so much more. So even if your genes do not predispose you to Estrogen Dominance, the toxins in your environment such as BPA could cause this to happen. Sweating is one of the most effective ways to get it out of your system!
3. Low Progesterone & Testosterone & decreased bone density. As we age & go through menopause or andropause, our progesterone & testosterone decrease which causes some bone loss. As our body breaks down bone, we also can release bone-loving heavy metals such as lead. Throughout our life, we can store lead that we have been exposed to in our bones. Our bodies are always breaking down bone & rebuilding it, but as we get older, we tend to lose more bone than we rebuild. This process means as our bodies break down our bone, we concurrently release lead into our system. To help get the lead out of the body, we need to sweat. By sweating regularly, we help avoid re-circulation of lead in the blood & tissues or being reabsorbed back into the bones. Increasing our core body temperature by exercising or by taking a sauna, we can mobilize, excrete & eliminate harmful metals such as lead from our bodies through our skin. As we rebuild bone as we age through strength training & nutrition, we want to be sure the lead doesn’t make it back to our bones! Other harmful metals that can be excreted through skin include arsenic, cadmium & mercury.
Using a sauna is a great way to sweat. Our bodies can detox harmful environmental toxins which impact our hormones. We can also support our hormones with regular sweating. Taking a cold shower after your sauna session will help regulate your body temperature & rinse your sweat that contains all those harmful toxins you just sweat out! Showering & toweling off afterwards will minimize reabsorption of toxins. Keep in mind that sweating will deplete some vitamins & minerals as well as electrolytes in the process. Be sure your nutrition includes plenty of B-vitamins, Magnesium, Zinc, Selenium, Iron, Vitamin C, & Calcium, electrolytes such as sodium & potassium, as all these are necessary for detoxification processes & sweating recovering. If you feel dizzy & depleted, you may need more nutrient support with electrolytes & minerals. The sweating & detoxification process uses up a lot of these nutrients, so it is important to make sure there are plenty in your diet. Always eat plenty of fiber to also help your body eliminate & take out the “trash.” Remember, all systems work together for optimal health. Sweating is often overlooked as one of the keys to vitality. As always, talk to your own doctor before engaging in regular sweating & detoxification.
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