Hormone imbalances can affect us at any age and often have some nasty side effects like PMS, headaches, mood swings, weight gain, spots, bloating, and insomnia.
Hormones need a steady stream of nutrients for them to work efficiently, we get these from the food we eat and other healthy lifestyle components.
Everybody is different and needs vitamins and minerals in different levels, so this may be a trial and error process.
If you’re concerned or unsure of what works with you, it may be a good idea to check in with your doctor.
Lifestyle Tips –
- Avoid over and under eating
Eating too little can result in a hormonal shift that leads to weight problems, whilst overeating can increase insulin levels and reduce sensitivity.
On the other hand, cutting your calorie intake too much can increase levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which is known to promote weight gain when it’s elevated.
Eating within your own personal calorie range can help you maintain hormonal balance and a healthy weight.
- Get consistent and high-quality sleep
Sleep in an underappreciated factor in a healthy lifestyle. Even if you have the perfect diet and exercise on a regular basis, if you’re not getting enough restorative sleep you won’t be at your optimum health.
Poor sleep has been linked to imbalances of a number of hormones, including insulin, cortisol, leptin, ghrelin and the growth hormone.
To maintain optimum hormone balance, aim for at least 7 hours of quality sleep.
- Engage in regular exercise
Physical activity has a strong influence on hormonal health. Engaging in regular exercise has the ability to reduce insulin levels and increase insulin sensitivity.
Insulin is a hormone that has many functions, one of which is allowing cells to take up sugar and amino acids from the bloodstream, which are then used for energy and maintaining muscle.
- Stress management
At some point in our life we have all experienced high levels of stress, which can have negative effects on our hormones.
The two major hormones affected by stress are cortisol and adrenaline, otherwise known as epinephrine.
Cortisol is known as “the stress hormone” because it helps your body cope with stress over the long term.
Adrenaline is the “fight-or-flight” hormone that provides your body with a surge of energy to respond to immediate danger.
Unfortunately, chronic stress causes cortisol levels to remain elevated, which can lead to excessive calorie intake and obesity, including increased belly fat.
Furthermore, some foods can promote healthy hormones. Below are some dietary requirements plus foods to start implementing into your diet.
Dietary Tips –
- Eat plenty of fibre
Fibre is also essential for insulin levels in our body and can have the strongest effects on our appetite, helping us feel fuller for longer and thus less likely to mindlessly snack.
- Eat fatty fish
Fatty fish is the best source of Omega-3 which has anti-inflammatory properties as well as positive effects on stress by reducing cortisol and adrenaline levels.
- Eat lots of protein
Protein provides essential amino acids that your body can’t make on its own, because of this it must be consumed every day in order to maintain muscle, bone and skin health. Further, protein influences the release of hormones that control appetite and food intake.
Eating protein decreases levels of the “hunger hormone” ghrelin and stimulates the production of hormones that help you feel full.
- Avoid sugar and refined carbs
The fructose that is found in sugary foods can increase insulin levels and promote insulin resistance, especially in overweight and obese people with pre-diabetes or diabetes.
Fructose makes up at least half of most types of sugar. This includes natural forms like honey and maple syrup. In addition, diets high in refined carbs like white bread and pasta may promote insulin resistance in a large portion of adults and adolescents.