Six natural ways to balance your hormones
Hormones are the chemical messengers of your body. They travel through your bloodstream, instructing different organs and tissues on what to do. From reproduction to metabolism regulation, your hormones control all of your body’s major processes.
Just as a tiny hormonal imbalance can have negative effects, including diabetics, weight gain, infertility, depression and many more. A good parallel is to consider what happens when you add too much salt to your food. You ruin it! Your hormones are like ingredients that need to be properly balanced.
Hormonal injections and supplements are two common ways people combat hormonal imbalances. However, in this post, we take your attention to six ways you can balance your hormones naturally.
1. Get enough sleep
Sleep is arguably the most important factor affecting hormonal balance. Nothing can save you from hormonal imbalance when you don’t get enough restorative sleep – not even nutrition or exercise! Poor sleep has been linked to imbalances in hormones like cortisol, insulin, ghrelin and leptin. A study found that sleeping for four hours per night reduced insulin sensitivity in men by 20%.
Based on a study by the International Journal of Endocrinology, getting improper sleep can result in diabetes, obesity and problems with appetite.
Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep daily, but it’s important to note that quality also matters. Going through the five stages of each sleep cycle is important for the release of growth hormones.
2. Exercise regularly
The right kind and amount of exercise will positively impact your body’s hormones. A major benefit of exercise is its ability to increase insulin sensitivity and decrease insulin levels.
Insulin is an anabolic hormone that allows our body cells to take sugar from the bloodstream and use it as energy. Low levels of insulin result in constant fatigue, anxiety, irritability and pale skin. On the other hand, high insulin levels have been linked to diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Many types of physical activities, however, have been found to modify hormone levels. Performing aerobics, strength training, walking and other exercises will help lower your risk of many diseases.
3. Manage stress
We live in an insanely fast-paced world, where no one ever seems to take a break. This high level of stress affects two main hormones – cortisol and adrenaline.
Cortisol is the stress hormone that helps us cope with long-term stress. Adrenaline is responsible for our fight-flight mechanism, which helps us to react instinctively to danger. While these hormones fluctuate depending on the current condition, they are supposed to get regulated.
However, in high-stress environments, cortisol levels remain high. This saps an immense amount of energy, which causes you to eat more, putting you at the risk of obesity. If your adrenaline levels remain elevated, it can result in high blood pressure and anxiety. That’s why you need to effectively manage your stress level.
4. Avoid sugar and refined carbs
Sugar and refined carbs have been found to play a role in issues such as insulin resistance and metabolic disease. Fructose, in particular, increases insulin levels, especially in overweight people with prediabetes or diabetes. Common sources of fructose include honey, maple syrup, high-fructose corn syrup and refined table sugar. A diet high in refined carbs like pretzels and white bread may promote insulin resistance.
That’s why it’s advisable to eliminate sugar from your diet. In particular, stay away from sugary beverages. Eating a low- or moderate- carb diet instead of refined carb may help overweight people reduce their insulin levels.
5. Consume healthy fats
While fat is important for the proper functioning of the body, unhealthy fats like trans fats have been found to cause insulin resistance and increase belly fat storage. That’s why it’s good to take only high-quality natural fats.
Coconut oil, pure MCT oil and palm oil contain medium-chain triglycerides, which help to provide the liver with energy. MCTs are also known to reduce insulin resistance.
Dairy fats and monounsaturated fat in olive oil and nuts can help increase your insulin sensitivity. It also helps balance the hormone responsible for appetite regulation and the digestion of protein and fat.
6. Eat enough protein
Consuming enough protein is very important because it provides the body with amino acids, which the body can’t make on its own. Amino acids assist in the creation and growth of muscles, connective tissue and skin. They aid in healing and repair, as well as digestion.
To maintain your hormonal balance, eating protein is non-negotiable. Consuming protein decreases ghrelin (which is our hunger hormone) while stimulating the production of other hormones that make you feel full.
Common sources of protein include lean meat and poultry, fish and eggs, among many others. Asides from being a good source of protein, fatty fish also contains long-chain omega-3 fatty acids that help decrease insulin levels while increasing insulin sensitivity.
Other natural tips worth mentioning include:
- Eating a high-fiber diet
- Drinking green tea
- Avoiding alcohol
- Stopping smoking
Your hormones influence both your physical and emotional well-being. Adopting these practices into your lifestyle will help you enjoy better overall health.
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FANTASTIC article. I love the part about cortisol. Hey. I know it’s not a “bad” hormone. It’s the hormone that wakes us up in the morning lol, so we need it. However too much is not good. What fascinates me about Cortisol is how fast it can flood the body when we are stressed. I remember watching an interview with 7 Time Mr. Olympia Phil Heath. He was talking about how he maintains his mindset when going on stage for an Olympia contest and how if he stresses even a little bit about something (anything) the stress hormone cortisol will actually affect how his muscles look to the judges! Powerful stuff! 😊