A hormone is any member of a class of signaling molecules, produced by a gland that is transported by the circulatory system to target distant organs to regulate physiology and behavior. What may be surprising to you is that ALL hormones are derived from LDL cholesterol. That’s right. All of the hormones come from what has been called the “bad” cholesterol. What gets even more complex is that one hormone is easily converted to another hormone when and where it is needed in the body. Each of these ‘conversion’ pathways is influenced by factors in our health.
First and foremost, there are toxins in our environment that can interfere with the conversion of one steroid to another. A good example of this is sugar. High carbohydrate diets and insulin resistance can decrease the breakdown of Cortisol (our stress hormone) and not allow it to be cleared by our body. Changing the macromolecule composition of our diet influences the steroid pathway and helps to clear excess cortisol from our bodies.
What is important to understand as well is that correct cholesterol-derived hormone balance is essential for all organ functions. The primary example of this is the thyroid. Excess cortisol in the body decreases our production of thyroid hormones. It also decreases our conversion of T4 to active T3, and increases the conversion of T4 to reverse T3. Fixing the cortisol imbalance needs to be done before addressing thyroid function to see if this is solely a response to our stress hormones.
To check your hormones, many times we will recommend salivary and urine testing in addition to serum testing that may have previously been performed. This gives us a better understanding of how your body is breaking down hormones into their metabolites to be excreted by your body. Want to see what could possibly be affecting your hormone functions? Check out this infographic!