Your hormones aren’t just there to dictate whether or not you have stomach cramps every 28 days. In fact, your body is full of chemicals that do everything from regulate your metabolism to boost your muscle growth. Here, hormone specialist and retired pharmacist Marla Ahlgrimm answers a few quick questions about hormones and your body.
Q: What is Irisin?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Irisin is a hormone that received very little attention until recently. It’s essentially an exercise-related hormone that burns fat. Not only does Irisin transform unhealthy white fat into body-boosting brown fat, it is also believed that it offers the brain protective benefits against age and injury.
Q: How does estrogen affect the body?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Estrogen is most commonly thought of as the hormone that regulates the menstrual cycle and controls the physical features that differentiate women from men. It also plays a role in keeping your cholesterol levels down and making sure your bones stay healthy.
Q: Do women have testosterone?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Contrary to popular belief, yes, women’s bodies do produce testosterone. Although more closely associated with masculinity, testosterone goes to work in a woman’s body helping repair muscle proteins after vigorous exercise. Despite its small amount, women’s bodies also need testosterone for proper muscle growth.
Q: How can I lower my cortisol levels?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Cortisol is a hormone that is released anytime you’re under stress, tension, or anxiety. It can get your heart pumping in a bad way, make your palm sweats, and overwhelm you when you least expect it. Fortunately, women can control their cortisol levels by exercising regularly. A low to moderate-intensity exercise can help the body better regulate its cortisol productions. A word of caution, however, as endurance training may actually increase the body’s production of cortisol.