Trying to balance your hormones through a healthy diet and lifestyle can feel a daunting task; however, there are a few simple steps we can take to support our wellbeing. Hormones are chemical messengers produced by the endocrine system. The body uses these molecules to send messages through the bloodstream to different organs and tissues to regulate various functions.
These are your body temperature, blood pressure, blood sugar, metabolism, homeostasis, reproduction, sexual desires, appetite, sleep, mood, muscular functions, respiration, energy maintenance, and much more.
Hormone levels naturally fluctuate at different life stages, especially during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. Research shows that your lifestyle, health conditions, diet, and medications can also affect your hormonal balance.
Hormonal imbalance is usually characterized by mood swings, low libido, heavy periods, poor-quality sleep or insomnia, headaches, weight gain, skin problems, weak bones, and fertility issues.
Research reveals that some performance-enhancing drugs can reduce normal hormone production, leading to reversible and irreversible changes in the body. Instead of taking medications that can lead to complications, one must follow a holistic health approach, bringing changes in diet and lifestyle.
This post will talk about how to balance your hormones through a healthy diet and lifestyle. Read on!
Regular exercise is directly promotional to normal and healthy hormonal production. Physical activity, such as walking, jogging, running, and swimming, can increase insulin sensitivity and balance its bloodstream levels.
A 2019 study published on NCBI highlights that higher insulin levels can cause inflammation, cardiovascular conditions, diabetes, kidney disorders, neuropathic diseases, and eye problems.
Experts recommend strength training, endurance workouts, and aerobic exercises to balance your insulin levels, boost energy levels, and improve sleep quality by producing an adequate amount of melatonin.
A 2001 research study highlighted that women who performed resistance training had improved testosterone levels. Another study highlights that regular exercise can increase growth hormone (GH) and balance testosterone in older adults, leading to enhanced brain functions.
Aerobic exercises increase blood flow to the brain, causing it to suppress cortisol and increase serotonin, dopamine, endorphins, melatonin, and oxytocin. It is crucial to exercise for at least 30 minutes daily and 4-5 times a week.
Although exercise positively affects your physical and mental health, your health will suffer if you don’t get enough sleep at night—poor sleep imbalances your hormones, such as insulin, leptin, cortisol, ghrelin, and GH. A 2010 study shows that people who sleep less than five hours at night have 20% decreased insulin sensitivity.
Shorter sleep durations can lead to decreased leptin and increased ghrelin and appetite, leading to unhealthy food intake, such as high-calorie carbs. That’s why both the quality and quantity of sleep are vital for improving your overall health and wellbeing. Follow these tips to improve your sleep quality and duration at night:
Several studies have shown that sugar and refined carbs can increase insulin levels, leading to obesity, reduced metabolism, and diabetes. A 2002 research study highlights that fructose can promote insulin resistance in cells and increase the risk of diabetes.
People with prediabetes are at higher risk of developing insulin resistance because they consume high-fructose corn syrup, sugar, and honey. Food high in refined carbs, such as pretzels and white bread, can cause insulin resistance in adolescents and adults.
All this leads to imbalanced insulin and glucagon levels. Sugar and refined carbs intake can cause obesity with prediabetes, increasing the chances of health conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome in women.
Not drinking enough water causes your pituitary gland to secrete antidiuretic hormones, such as vasopressin, into the bloodstream. As a result, it stimulates your nephrons to conserve water in the kidneys and excrete less urine.
Dehydration affects the glandular system and imbalance your hormones. Drinking at least 8-10 glasses of water hydrates your organs and tissues, enabling them to flush toxins from the body. At the same time, it keeps your cells healthy and allows them to function optimally.
Moreover, water dissolves electrolytes and mineral salts, such as potassium and sodium, in the body. Drinking enough water keeps your electrolytes levels normal to help optimize your heart, nerves, and muscle functions.
You can also consume 2-3 cups of green tea to optimize cellular metabolism and maintain hormonal balance. Green tea contains epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), an antioxidant that reduces oxidative stress and boosts metabolism. A 2012 study shows that green increases insulin sensitivity, helping people prevent obesity and diabetes.
Vitamin D regulates several hormones in your body, such as adrenaline, noradrenaline, dopamine, and serotonin. Low vitamin D levels can increase the risk of stress, depression, and anxiety. A deficiency in vitamin D can also cause lower estrogen levels, mood swings, hot flashes, and parathyroid hormone imbalance.
There are various ways to get vitamin D. For instance, the sun is the biggest vitamin D source, meaning you must spend some time in the sunlight. Likewise, eat more mushrooms, consume seafood, including fatty fish, and eat egg yolks.
Regular sunlight exposure is a natural way to get vitamin D. Make sure you get at least 10-20 minutes of sunlight several times a week. People with higher melanin levels (dark skin pigment) require at least 30 minutes of midday sunlight.
B vitamins are powerful essential nutrients that help you stay healthy, energetic, and balanced. Essential B vitamins and their major functions in the body are:
All these vitamins play a crucial role in your body’s detoxification process, maintain hormonal balance, reduce fatigue, streamline metabolic processes, and strengthen your overall physical and mental health.
Some of the rich sources of B vitamins are salmon, leafy green vegetables, organs meats, including liver, beef, eggs, milk, oysters, clams, legumes, chicken, turkey, yoghurt, nutritional yeast, trout, fortified cereals, and sunflower seeds. Citrus fruits, such as lemons and oranges, contain six of eight B vitamins.
Maintaining your gut and hormonal balance starts with consuming healthy food. Diet plays a crucial role in optimizing your gut flora and protecting against gut conditions. Food rich in sugar and fats can cause inflammation and affect your gut flora balance negatively.
Research highlights that probiotic supplements can alleviate stress, anxiety, and depression. These supplements reduce inflammation and balance hormones. Besides a healthy diet, probiotics can balance glucose levels.
A 2015 review study shows that probiotics can normalize blood sugar levels by regulating your body’s glycemic control mechanisms. That way, you prevent insulin resistance, diabetes, obesity, and heart diseases.
Along with supplements, you can consume yoghurt, miso soup, kefir, soft cheeses, sour pickles, sourdough bread, sauerkraut, and acidophilus milk to improve your digestive health and promote “healthy” bacteria in your gut.
Essential minerals perform a wide range of functions in your body – both at organic and cellular levels. Major minerals stored in your body are magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, and sulfur.
Essential minerals keep your bones, muscles, brain, and heart working properly. Minerals also play a significant role in nerve function, enzymatic mechanisms, and hormonal balance.
Milk, yoghurt, soy milk, almond, cheese, leafy greens, beans, peas, fish, and cereals are excellent calcium sources. You can get magnesium by consuming nuts, seeds, legumes, tofu, seeds, whole grains, and fatty fish. Bananas are also a rich source of magnesium.
Phosphorus is found in chicken, organ meats, seafood, dairy, nuts, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds. You can also consume fresh veggies and fruits, but they are low in phosphorus. Likewise, dieticians recommend olives, potatoes, and tomato juice to get sodium.
Potassium levels are inversely proportional to sodium levels in your body. For instance, when potassium levels go up, sodium levels go down and vice versa. Aldosterone is a hormone released by the adrenal gland that controls potassium levels in the body.
Besides consuming sodium-rich food, you must also eat spinach, bananas, oranges, grapefruit, apricot, dried fruits, broccoli, peas, cucumbers, mushrooms, and potatoes to optimize aldosterone hormone levels.
Hormones regulate major functions at the organ and cellular levels, meaning hormonal imbalances can lead to a wide range of health conditions and complications. While some people balance hormones by taking medications and undergo different treatment types, these options can cause adverse effects on your body.
On the other hand, a healthy diet and lifestyle changes are essential components of a holistic health approach to improve your physical and mental wellbeing. The dietary and lifestyle tips presented above can help you normalize and balance hormonal production.
For more information regarding a balanced diet, read my blog about Balance Your Nutritional Intake (know your macronutrients) or my Dangers of yo-yo dieting blog.