Mainly for ladies, but not exclusively.
This is a subject that has occupied my thinking for a while. Now understand I am no expert - just a beginner and can only share with you the few small bits of knowledge I have gleaned from my limited reading. And that from a vast subject that even the medical profession know relatively little about.
Our bodies are indeed 'fearfully and wonderfully made'. I attribute this fact to a Creator God.
When I used to think of hormones, I thought of teenagers and ladies! That was the extent of my knowledge, plus a few tales passed down from older ladies that our lives can be pretty miserable when the hormones are unsettled (out of whack), particularly around middle age.
With Husband having an out of control thyroid gland, we have done a lot more research. I have heard about adrenal glands and the importance of making sure they are functioning well. To me that was a mystery, and why should I worry anyway? The pituitary gland plays a part too - another obscure part of the body that if I knew existed, I didn't worry about what it did. Suddenly, all these glands seemed rather complicated and intertwined.
Then I started to consider the menopause and it's affect on the body and found a book in a charity shop (don't you just love them, I do!). What I started to learn about surprised me. It is all about the hormones - yes, but not just the hormones I associated with ladies, but the whole range - including the adrenals and the thyroid. What I am discovering is that all these hormones work together, often in pairs counteracting each other, but they should be in perfect balance.
Many things can cause them to be out of balance and if just one goes off kilter, then the rest are forced in to survival mode to keep us alive, and most often they do, but with some unpleasant symptoms as a side-kick.
It is only at this point that we become aware that something isn't right, go to the doctor, who gives us some medicine, which often times only removes the symptoms (e.g. pain killers to suppress pain or hormone supplementation) but doesn't actually look to see what has caused it in the first place.
Surprise, surprise (and no surprise), I have learnt that the one biggest thing that can cause them to go off balance is our diet - a lack of adequate nutrition from our diet, laden with too many carbohydrates and processed foods, too few vegetables and so too few vitamins and minerals entering our bodies. Added to which the toxins in our environment (including our personal hygiene potions and lotions and make-up),
Added to which our lifestyle - stress being a major player which can put an already compromised system(through poor diet) under even greater strain. All this is familiar to those of us doing the GAPS diet. As I have said before, not everyone needs to do the GAPS diet, but it would do everyone well to consider those three things mentioned above - diet, environment and lifestyle. I think that very often, we don't think about what our bodies need to operate well. We ignore them and push them, until something goes wrong.
When you are endeavouring to put right the wrong, then you need to understand why the body has gone wrong, so you can back track and try and put it back together. They say it's never too late to improve your health. Even small steps can help. Suddenly, things like good quality sleep and how to achieve it become important.
To return to the hormones, they regulate everything our body does. Important? VERY! They keep for example, our heart in rhythm, our body cycles in rhythm, our mood stable. They control our sweating, our energy levels and so on. So it would pay us all to be more considerate of them in the way we live our lives.
I have only really touched the surface in my learning. I've learnt about how important it is to keep estrogen and progesterone in balance, and that too much estrogen can cause the unpleasant symptoms often linked to the menopause. I have found that our environment is full of products with estrogen mimicking properties, like plastics, which can flood our bodies with estrogen giving us estrogen dominance. At the same time, we could be low in progesterone, which is in ample supply in vegetables, should we consume enough, but we often don't. So estrogen dominates and the counteracting progesterone isn't there to counterbalance it as it should. Added to which, the adrenal glands, which are responsible for producing hormones that regulate many life- supporting roles, rely on progesterone to make their hormones and in times of stress our adrenals have first call on the progesterone, of which many of us don't have much anyway, so there is even less to counteract the estrogen. (1) Then arise symptoms so frequently linked to the Menopause. Dr. Lee (see below) says that premenopausal symptoms are being experienced by ladies in their mid thirties, rather than just mid-forties to fifity. He attributes the shift to an earlier age to our diet and life-style and toxins in the environment that mimic estrogen. The programme he recommends is first of all centered around a whole food diet, with adequate exercise and minimizing exposure to toxins in the home and managing stress, like going to bed at a reasonable time. So you can see from this the importance of our diet, what we have around us in our environment and the need to look after our bodies - getting enough good quality sleep for example.
Of course all of these things can affect youngsters going through puberty too (I have two at the moment!). From personal experience I can say that being on the GAPs diet has had a regulating influence on them - neither seem to be suffering from mood swings. We have a few spots, but they have been much better and I can link their outbreak to times of stress (like being unwell - Son 2 had a dislocated kneecap in the summer so he couldn't run around in the fresh air the same and we saw a difference in him because of that). So little things do have a big impact on us and as we as a family begin to be more aware of our bodies needs we have greater awareness and greater motivation to keep working at the diet, environment and lifestyle.
Maybe you would like to look some of this up for yourself (as I have only made you aware, not really taught you anything!).
Here are some useful resources:
(1). Lee, John R., What your doctor may not tell you about Menopause, Warner Books, NY, 1996, Ch. 11
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. A member of the medical profession should be consulted about all matters relating to your health. This information is for advice only.