Along with all of the stressors of everyday life, both men and women are often faced with the physical, mental and emotional effects of hormonal imbalances. The more clients you work with that face these challenges, the more evident it becomes that there is an undoubtedly strong connection between stress and hormones.
It’s no secret that stress is on the rise throughout the modern world and is leading to an increase in client complaints and issues. Although this may keep us as Health Coaches busier than ever, it is also our duty to help navigate the rocky waters and often times this means ensuring hormones are in check.
Fortunately, as Functional Diagnostic Nutrition® Practitioners we have access to functional labs that can help assess hormonal imbalances which need to be addressed. These days almost anyone can run lab tests but not everyone knows what to do with them. It’s important to remember to treat the person not the test results. FDN Practitioners use their training to correlate between lab results and client complaints or symptoms to assess overall Metabolic Chaos® and all of a client’s healing opportunities.
Clues indicating stress is contributing to a hormone imbalance…
Stress is a natural response to the things that we encounter in life. And the body is designed to endure short-term periods of stress. But for many Health Coaching Clients, stress has become a chronic, long-term problem. And these long periods of abnormally high stress levels take a toll on health. Here are some signs that may indicate your client is struggling with hormone imbalances.
1. Poor digestion
When cortisol is released, digestion is slowed down and can present in various ways for your client. This happens so that energy can be conserved and diverted to where it’s needed. Their production of hydrochloric acid also slows along with the digestion process. This can often lead to your client experiencing GERD or acid reflux, which usually is caused by low stomach acid levels, not high levels. The Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Course® also includes training on how to test and assess digestive issues.
2. High blood pressure
When under stress, the body increases our heart rate. It also causes the blood vessels to constrict. This is so more oxygen can be diverted to muscles so that it is easier for them to take action. This can cause a rise in your client’s blood pressure. If stress becomes chronic, high blood pressure issues can become chronic as well. High blood pressure ultimately increases the risk of heart attack and stroke, which is why it is so important to implement protocols that can put your client back on the path to healing.
3. High blood sugar levels
When faced with stress, the body releases glucose to help provide fuel to the body. This will increase your client’s blood sugar levels. When blood sugar levels remain high for an extended period of time, such as during periods of chronic stress, it can increase the risk of insulin resistance and diabetes.
4. Lowered immune system
When you first deal with a stressor, the body actually stimulates the immune system. This is a defense mechanism that is designed to protect you against infection and help to heal wounds. But ultimately, the longer the chronic stress remains a problem, the weaker your client’s immune system becomes because it just can’t keep operating on overdrive forever. The immune system becomes so weak that it leaves clients susceptible to viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungal infections.
5. Loss of fertility and libido
When Cortisol levels are elevated, other systems of the body are put at a level of minimal function and release of certain hormones is suppressed. This is true for the reproductive system. When stress and Cortisol are high, sex hormone production is kept at a minimum. Your clients will often experience a loss of reproductive function and libido.
6. Anxiety, depression, mood disorders and mental illness
There is a common connection between anxiety, major depression and other mental illnesses when there is a chronic elevation of Cortisol levels. Chronic stress also reduces the level of vital neurotransmitters in the brain, particularly serotonin and dopamine. Low levels of either of these important brain chemicals can leave your clients depressed and/or anxious and increase the risk of binge eating and other addictions.
7. Weight gain
While in the midst of a continual stress response, the appetite will increase along with the release of insulin. When facing stress, after the release of Cortisol by the adrenal glands, the body believes that it needs carbohydrates or fatty foods that can easily be stored as an energy reserve in the form of fat. So with chronic stress, your client may notice their appetite for carbs and fatty food increasing….and so does their waistline. Cortisol induced weight gain tends to happen around the abdomen, where the fat cells are more sensitive to the effects of Cortisol.
8. Memory loss
When stress becomes chronic, it has a damaging effect on the brain. Production of new brain cells slows or even ceases completely, and the brain actually begins to shrink. Cortisol damages the Hippocampus, the part of the brain that is responsible for memory, learning and regulating emotions. The result is memory loss, decision making problems and loss of impulse control. One of the many reasons it’s so important to address stressors early on with clients.
With training from Functional Diagnostic Nutrition®, you will have access to these critical functional lab tests, learn how to correlate them with your client’s main complaints and hormone imbalances, and most importantly you will also learn how to effectively address the healing opportunities to build health.
The FDN training takes a deep dive into the D.R.E.S.S. for Health Success Protocol® which is used to educate and empower clients in the areas of Diet, Rest, Exercise, Supplementation and of course, Stress Reduction, guided by the objective data from the lab tests. FDN gives you the functional lab training, data-driven protocols and tools needed to confidently solve your client’s health issues and get them back to feeling the best version of themselves.