Learn to balance your hormones through your diet!
What are hormones? What is their role in the body?
Hormones are the chemicals produced by the glands in your body, and they control various body functions. These hormones reach their target by blood (endocrine hormones, e.g., insulin and glucagon) or through the ducts (exocrine hormones, e.g., digestive hormones). They are, in fact, the chemical messengers of your body.
One or more hormones control all body functions. For example,
Testosterone and oestrogen are the principal sex hormones.
Adrenaline, the body's primary stress hormone, prepares the body for any stress. It acts synergistically with other stress hormones.
Ghrelin and Leptin are the principal hunger hormones.
Growth hormone influences the growth patterns in the body.
Insulin and glucagon maintain blood sugar balance.
Thyroid hormones affect your metabolism.
Hormones of the adrenal cortex control sex and the balance of glucose and salts in the body
Oxytocin causes body muscles to contract, e.g., during the birth process, milk let-down, etc...
You can easily imagine what could be the consequences of hormone imbalances.
What are the actual causes of hormone imbalances?
Any problem in producing and delivering these hormones will immensely influence your body. The hormonal imbalances could be due to various causes, e.g., pregnancy, diabetes, insufficient sleep, unhealthy diet, menopause, unusual levels of chronic stress, thyroid problems, tumours of the pituitary gland (the central controller of hormones), cancer chemotherapy, injuries, medications etc...
Any of the above factors could disturb your hormone production balance. Some of these factors are not under your control. But, you can manage some other factors.
How can your diet help you to restore hormone balance?
Your body needs nutrients for the production of hormones. So, the importance of nutritional factors can't be ignored. The quantity, quality, caloric value and glycaemic index (GI) of the diet significantly influence the levels of hormones circulating in your blood. The following dieting strategies can help you to maintain healthy levels of your hormones.
Refrain from sugars, particularly refined sugar
Numerous studies have highlighted the role of sugars in causing hormonal imbalances. They promote insulin resistance and render a variety of metabolic diseases. Mainly, refined sugar can cause a glucose storm in the body, and the body finds it very difficult to manage this sudden rise. This could lead to the development of diabetes.
All added sugars are harmful, e.g., honey, fructose corn syrup, table sugar, etc... So, it would be wise to avoid all of them if you are experiencing any hormonal imbalances.
What you eat is equally important as how much you eat. Foods having a high glycaemic index, e.g., sugars etc..., can exacerbate the inflammation, and they should be limited in diet to have benefits of hormone balancing.
Soda drinks, industrial oils and fructose corn syrup, for example, are the most common inflammatory foods. Try to remove them from your diet and make pace for more hormone-balancing foods.
Eat fibrous foods
Dietary fibres are the cornerstone of any healthy diet and are vital for your gut health. They also help regulate insulin and prevent the development of insulin resistance.
Numerous studies have highlighted the role of fibres in managing hormones and maintaining a healthy weight.
A recent study in 2022 proved that the dietary supplement with Dill seed cake (source of fibre) significantly improved insulin sensitivity, body weight and blood cholesterol levels.
Be a green tea drinker.
If you love sugary carbonated beverages, you shouldn't blame anyone for your hormonal disturbances. Try to replace these beverages with healthy and antioxidant-rich green tea. Its nutritional components can boost your metabolism immensely and help you balance hormones.
The antioxidants (polyphenols) in green tea can help to reduce oxidative stress. A study on a group of 35 people concluded that using a 3% concentration of green tea was associated with a significantly improved fasting glucose level compared to the people using a 1% concentration.
Eat healthy fats
Healthy fats are involved in the production of energy, but they also influence the hormones involved in metabolism and appetite. The steroid hormones are also produced from fat called cholesterol.
So, it would be wise to add olive oil to your diet as a source of healthy fats. However, excessive fat deposition can cause disturb your hormone levels.
Fatty fish is essential for your hormones.
The fatty fish is rich in omega-three fatty acids, boosting your metabolism and improving your mood. Various studies have highlighted that using fatty fish in your diet can prevent anxiety and depression. Fatty fish can also help the digestive, central nervous, and cardiovascular systems.
Do not overeat!
Regular overeating can cause problems with your metabolism. A study has shown that overeating directly influences the fats circulating in your blood and predisposes the body to excessive oxidative stress.
The research also highlighted that ceramides, the fatty cells of the skin, have a role in developing insulin resistance. A review published in the 'Frontiers in Endocrinology' highlighted the role of ceramides in reducing insulin sensitivity.
Don't forget vitamins.
Don't forget your all-weather friends. Vitamins, particularly Vitamin Bs and D, can be helpful in maintaining hormonal balance.
The B complex vitamins are usually supplemented to the diets in addition to taking the foods rich in them because they are water-soluble and don't harm the body in excess quantities.
They regulate the production of energy and testosterone in your body. A total of nine vitamins are part of this vitamin family and are found naturally in various foodstuffs. Fatty fish, e.g., salmons, are a rich source of B vitamins.
Similarly, B9 (folic acid) is found abundantly in green vegetables, e.g., Collard green, spinach Kale etc... They are also found in other foodstuffs, e.g., animal proteins, animal fats, milk, eggs, sunflower seeds, etc...
The role of vitamin D in regulating steroid hormones is also well documented.
To order vitamin D supplements, click here.
The endocrine system produces various hormones naturally. Healthcare professionals stress the need to maintain the levels of these hormones. The role of diet in the maintenance of hormones is highly critical. So, it would be wise to manipulate your dieting strategies to avoid unwanted changes in hormone levels.
To learn more about vitamins and supplements, click here.
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