029 // Hormones and improving hormone health

Health with Hashimoto’s is your free weekly podcast to discover true, simple, and sustainable tips to improve your energy and health.

Hormones are chemical messengers that coordinate every function of your body. In this episode, you’ll learn why hormones matter, where they are created, and where they are eliminated. Finally, I’ll give you 7 tips that you can use to improve your hormone health. 

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Health with Hashimoto's podcast episode 29: Hormone Health

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Articles/Studies: This article from Izabella Wentz was helpful in creating this episode. These two were also helpful: one from the Cleveland Clinic and one from Paloma Health


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Read the Transcript:

This transcript is auto-generated by OtterAI and may have slight errors.

Welcome to the health of Hashimoto’s podcast. I am so glad that you are here.

It’s March which means it is autoimmune Awareness Month. And as you know Hashimotos is an autoimmune disease. It means that our bodies are attacking our bodies, and that’s not good. That’s what all autoimmune problems are.

When I was talking to another nurse recently she mentioned that every single thing that goes on with our health is either trauma-related you know, like a broken bone or concussion or something or it’s our immune system, which is usually inflammatory. I really loved the way that she broke that down. So simple. Either it’s trauma or your immune system.

We’re all dealing with our immune system and during this autoimmune Awareness Month, I was going to talk about another trigger for Hashimotos. But I realized I could not talk about that trigger without talking about something bigger and that is hormones.

Today we’re going to talk about hormones and how they work in the body, why we need them, where they’re created, where they’re eliminated and how you can have better hormone health. We need to address that before we can address the trigger of hormone changes like pregnancy or menopause.

You are here listening to the health with Hashimoto’s podcast because you want a simple, true, and sustainable path to Whole Health. I’m Esther I am a registered nurse and that’s why I’m here. I am here to help you figure out your next step on your path to better health to whole health.

When I talk about whole health, I’m talking body, mind, spirit, diet, environment. Everything is related to everything. And that is especially true for hormones.

I’m going to answer three questions. Number one, why do hormones matter? Number two, where are they created? And then number three goes with that where they eliminated and then we’re gonna dive in to some tips for hormone health. In a future episode, I will talk about pregnancy and then in another episode, I’ll talk about menopause. Because both of those can be triggers; hormone changes, in general, can be triggered.

So what is a hormone? Well, it’s really simple. A hormone is a chemical messenger that coordinates your body’s functions.

You have so many different hormones, and each one has a different role. Many of the hormones are dependent on other hormones to make sure that they are in sync because everything is related to everything.

So what are some common hormones that you’ve heard of? Well, one is insulin. We’ve all heard of insulin. We’ve all heard of diabetes and type two diabetes where your body gets resistant to insulin or type one diabetes where your pancreas is not making insulin and you have to supplement you have to give yourself a shot of insulin with every single meal so that your body can do what it’s supposed to do. We’re all familiar with insulin. We’re all familiar with estrogen and testosterone. When we’re talking about mental health, serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin, those things come up. When we’re talking about stress. We usually talk about cortisol and adrenaline.

There are so many different hormones and every single one has a precise job in your body. These jobs include things like metabolism, growth and development, things like regulating your heart rate and your blood pressure, your temperature, your sleep and wake cycle. It’s impacted by hormones, your sexual function impacted by hormones, pretty much every single thing in your body in order to function. Well, it needs that chemical messenger to tell it to function.

Hormones are vital for life. So it is our job as the CEO of our own health care to make sure that we’re taking care of our health, we’re make sure we’re taking care of our hormones. We’re taking care of the things that make the hormones, and we’re making sure that not too many hormones build up in our body. And to do that we need to make sure that the hormones are getting out of our body as needed.

So where our hormones created? Well, they’re created in endocrine glands. First of all, endocrine is just a fancy name for saying it is our hormone system, that another name, hormone system, endocrine system, when you go see an endocrinologist, their specialty is endocrine stuff, which means hormones. That endocrine glands include your thyroid, your adrenal glands, your pancreas, your ovaries, your testes.

But hormones can be created in other places too. They can be created in your kidneys and your liver. When you’re pregnant, the placenta creates its own hormones to help the baby grow and develop. Also, adipose tissue which is just a fancy name for fat, adipose tissue, creates hormones, and then some hormones are created due to another thing.

Vitamin D, for example, I know we call it a vitamin, but vitamin D is actually a hormone. So where do you think it’s created? You want to think it’s created in your skin, right? Because we get sunlight. And then of course, it hits your skin so your skin must create the vitamin D. Nope. Vitamin D is actually created by your kidneys. So there are so many different signals. Yes, we get it from the sun, and then there’s a signal that goes to the kidneys to tell the kidney to create the vitamin D and how much.

You’re so complicated. You’re so amazing. Your body is so intricate. I love it. There are so many things that we can do to make sure you make sure things are working well. And there are some things that screw it up sometime. To where are they created. Sometimes they’re created these hormones, they’re created by toxins. They’re created by chemicals.

Have you ever heard of endocrine disruptors? I hear about them more when we’re talking about personal care products, cosmetics and things that use in the shower lotions and potions. There are things in our personal care products that interfere with our endocrine system. Of course endocrine is just a fancy name for hormones. But it’s not just our personal care products in a personal care products. You’ll see phthalate or maybe you’ll now see phthalate-free valet. I know it starts with a T H when you hear it, but it actually starts with a P H when you read it. It’s P H th how does that go together? I don’t know. When I’m teaching my kids how to read. We don’t cover phthalates because it just doesn’t make sense in English anyway. Phthalates are used to make plastics more flexible, and they are found in a lot of personal care products.

It was probably 15 years ago that I found out about them. And I found out how they can interfere with our hormones. And so I started making sure that all of my shampoos and conditioners body wash everything is phthalate free. Also, when you’re buying stuff, you probably know that you should look for plastics that say BPA-free.

Have you ever wondered what BPA is or why we have to make sure that it’s not in our stuff? Well BPA is a hormone disruptor and it’s used in plastics. Unfortunately, when things say BPA-free, there was something else created to replace that BPA and it’s probably not any healthier. But it’s not regulated yet. But today is not going to be about environmental toxins and cleaning up your house.

Today is about hormones. So they’re created in your endocrine glands. They’re created in other organs and tissues and then sometimes they are created by the chemicals that we are exposed to and sometimes they’re just disrupted by the chemicals and toxins in our house. I think the latest statistic I saw about women is that we are exposed to over 170 different chemicals in our morning routine of putting on you know personal care products, whether that’s makeup or whether that’s in the shower, whatever it is perfumes over 170 different chemicals every morning. That’s crazy when I think about it crazy.

So hormones have a job. Each hormone has its precise job and hormones impact other hormones and all of the hormones together their chemical messengers that coordinate every single one of your body’s functions. We desperately need healthy hormones. We also need to make sure that we’re getting rid of the hormones when we’re done using them. And sometimes we do that just in the process of using them when we use them or kind of use them up but other times they have to be eliminated by the body.

And when you hear somebody talk about detox, a lot of times detox is referring to cleaning up the organs that clean up your body and your blood primarily your kidney and kidneys and your liver. They are the two biggest things that clean everything up. So when you’re thinking about how do the hormones get removed from your body, either the kidneys or the liver, I think about life 1000 years ago how many chemicals were people exposed to that their livers and their kidneys had to get rid of? Not very many. We have had so many chemicals introduced into our air, water, our personal care products, cleaning products in our houses, all of the fire retardant things in our carpets in our furniture and our clothing in our bedding. We have so many chemicals all around us.

And if all of these chemicals are being eliminated from our bodies via our kidneys and our liver, well we need to be kind to our kidneys and our liver so that they don’t get backed up because they can only work so hard. There’s only so much time in a day and they can only do so much.

So when we’re talking about the liver as it cleans everything out. And sometimes it can get backed up and when it gets backed up. What it does is it just sends that hormone or that chemical back around in the blood for another pass-through, like Okay, I can’t get to you this time. So go around again and maybe the next time you come through, I will be able to take care of you. Well, if you keep doing that you’re going to have more and more things build up and that’s why it’s important to make sure your liver is running well. It’s important to be kind to your liver, it’s important to support your detox systems. Once the liver takes care of things, then they then get sent to the gut or the colon which is the end of the gut and then it’s eliminated with your stool.

So your gut is obviously needed for illumination. But your gut also has so many hormone receptors, and it creates some hormones. You have more serotonin in your gut than anywhere else you have 95% serotonin in your gut versus 5% in your brain. When you think about medications that are used for depression, what do you think about? The first thing I think about is medications that impact serotonin, if 95% of our serotonin is in our gut versus 5% in our brain, it’s really crucial that we focus on gut health. If we are depressed or if we’re dealing with anything mental health related, we have to make sure that our gut is you know, on point to make sure like I said before, that you’re pooping once a day if you’re not pooping once a day, you know you have to address gut issues. Once you’re pooping every day that you still definitely might have to address gut issues. But at least pooping once a day is an easy thing to start with.

But there’s so much more we can do for gut health. And you need good gut health for good mental health. You need good gut health. For a working and an optimally working immune system. If you have an autoimmune problem, you generally have a gut problem.

There are three things that impact everybody with an autoimmune system or an autoimmune problem. It’s number one, you have a genetic component number two you have a gut component. It’s right there. Everybody who has an autoimmune problem has a gut component and then the third thing everybody with an autoimmune condition has is a trigger one or more triggers. And like I said at the beginning of the episode, some of those triggers are hormone changes and so that’s why we’ve been talking about hormones.

So I’ve answered the questions. Why do hormones matter? While they matter? Because they’re the chemical messengers that coordinate everything in your body, every function of your body, impacted by or controlled by a hormone.

Where they created? They’re created in your endocrine glands. They’re created in other tissues and organs and they are created or blunted by chemicals and toxins.

And then where are they eliminated? They’re inactivated by us, but they’re also eliminated through the kidneys, the liver and the gut.

So now how do you take care of your home hormones? Now that you know that every single thing that happens in your body is impacted by hormones? Are you feeling this pressure? I don’t want you to feel pressure, don’t feel pressure. Your body is so amazing, and you don’t have to think about it to make sure that it’s working. It just works. It works in the background. It works. while you’re sleeping. You don’t have to think about it.

But there are some things that you can do to support it and make sure that you’re giving it all the tools that it needs in order to work optimally. And I have seven of those things for you right now.

Number one is water. You have to be hydrated if you’re not hydrated things are not working well. It’s such a simple thing to focus on. And yet because it’s so simple, we sometimes neglect it. So make sure you’re drinking enough water every single day. It’s simple, and it makes a huge difference. So number one is hydration.

Number two veggies, especially when we’re talking about liver health, especially cruciferous vegetables. So broccoli, cauliflower, those are the big ones kale, I know not everybody’s a fan of kale. Just make sure that you’re getting a lot of leafy greens, make sure you’re getting a lot of those cruciferous vegetables as well.

One doctor that I follow she has said if you want to do one thing and one thing only to impact your health, double your vegetable intake. And what does that look like for you? Would it mean double the number of servings that you’re getting? Would it mean double the variety that you’re getting? Would it mean double the number of meals that you get vegetables with? I don’t know. And that’s where you get to make that decision. You get to figure out how is this tip “increasing my veggies” going to work the best in my life? Where can I implement this? How can I implement this? How can I put vegetables in my diet? How can I add them to the grocery list? Where can I find them? You get to make those decisions. But with that general guideline of double your veggies, you have something to shoot for. And there’s so many different ways that you can make that happen.

So number one was hydration. Number two, double your veggies. The third one, if you’re doubling your veggies, you’re already going to be doing it it’s making sure that you’re getting enough fiber.

Most of us do not get enough fiber every single day. And here is where everything impacts everything right number one was hydration. Well if you are increasing your fiber and you’re not hydrated enough, you’re probably going to get constipated. So make sure that when you’re getting more fiber, you’re also getting more water. And then everything is related to everything when you’re increasing your veggies. You’re also increasing your fiber and if you’re eating raw vegetables or cooked or steamed or whatever, you’re probably also increasing your hydration just because vegetables have some water in them.

So one, two and three hydration, veggies and fiber. The fourth one is support your gut. And if you’re eating a lot of veggies if you’re drinking enough water, if you’re getting fiber, you’re already supporting your gut.

Now if you add in some fermented vegetables, then you’re gonna get some probiotics. Other vegetables are prebiotics. So probiotics, they’re bacteria that make up our microbiome within our gut there making sure everything is working well. The bacteria have to eat something. They eat the prebiotics. So in your vegetables, you have prebiotics to feed the probiotics. So tip number four is support your gut. Make sure that you are pooping everyday. Make sure that you have some source of probiotic rich food every day, whether that’s yogurt or Kefir or kombucha or you take a probiotic supplement, do something to incorporate probiotics into your diet every day to support your gut and then make sure of course, that the probiotics have something to eat and that’s prebiotics.

Tip number five is support your liver. One simple way to do that is drink more water which we already covered in tip number one. Another one is by reducing or eliminating alcohol. We are asking our livers to do a lot with all of the chemicals and toxins and things that we are exposed to every single day. So when you are consuming alcohol, you’re giving your liver even more to do.

Tylenol would be another thing; if you are regularly using Tylenol or acetaminophen/paracetamol. That is a huge burden on the liver. In fact, on every single bottle it says you can’t have more than four grams in a day because it’s too much on your liver. If you have more we’re going to have to monitor you for if your liver is working. And if your liver isn’t working, then you can die. Your liver is so important.

There are things that you can do to support your liver health as far as things you can eat. I already talked about cruciferous vegetables, and then there are things like milk thistle, you can get supplements, the NRF2 activator that I use, it activates your detox pathways and it helps me support my liver health. So I’m a really big fan of that one, as you know from listening to this show.

Tip number six is sleep. When you’re sleeping, that’s when your body is doing the bulk of its cleaning to make sure you’re getting enough sleep and good sleep.

Number seven personal care products we talked about earlier. You know a lot of our toxins and things come from our personal care products. When you’re shopping look for phthalates-free look for formaldehyde free. When you are looking at furniture or carpets or paint. Look for the chemicals. We don’t want VOCs

What are VOCs? They’re smells. Every single smell is a voc volatile organic compound. Obviously I’m not saying get rid of flowers, get rid of plants and things that you eat, everything smells. What I am saying is that the artificial ones, they are not good for your body.

So if you have a scented laundry detergent, if you ever scented fabric softener if you have you know scented anything, get rid of it. When you’re buying paint look for the low or no VOC because we don’t need all of those chemicals by eliminating the toxins as much as we can in our personal care products and in our homes.

You’re going to support your overall hormones, you’re going to support the overall functioning of your body. Because again, a hormone is just a chemical messenger to coordinate your body’s functions. In another episode we will talk about thyroid hormone specifically, and how your hormone changes during your life cycle can impact your thyroid and can trigger an autoimmune problem like Hashimotos you’ve probably noticed that more women than men are affected by thyroid problems. And one of the reasons is estrogen and we’re going to talk about that in a future episode.

But for now, pick one thing out of the seven that I just gave you and focus on that and when you feel like that thing is on point or at least improving. Then come back for another one. It’s okay 1% better every single day is so much progress. Think of how much 1% is going to build up over the course of one year.

Those seven things again, hydration, vegetables, fiber, gut support. Liver support, sleep and cleaning up your personal care products.

I will see you here next week we’re going to talk about more things related to Hashimotos and specifically increasing your health with Hashimotos.

Images used in this post are from J Lee and Kier in Sight on Unsplash