Have you been feeling sluggish lately? Agitated? Wake up in the morning with the blues? Wish you could just avoid everyone at work? If the answer to any or all of the questions is a ‘yes’, then you can blame it all on hormones. Hormones are all to be blamed; tiny chemical messengers that influence your mood, mental performances and behaviour.
What are hormones?
Hormones are chemical messengers that travel in your blood stream to tissues and organs. They play major roles and affect your growth, mood, sexual function, metabolism and reproduction.
Hormones are such powerful messengers and all it takes is just a tiny imbalance to cause an enormous change to our bodies. Hormones such as oestrogen, testosterone, cortisol, serotonin, insulin and many more secreted by various glands play individual roles in our body. The endocrine system works as a whole huge system to control the regulation of hormones in your body.
Signs & Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance
- Weight gain or weight loss
- Change in appetite
- Low libido
- Hair thinning
- Leaky gut
How to Balance Hormones Naturally
Exercise is vital to keep your hormones balanced. Regular exercise should be incorporated into our daily lives. Any form of exercise can be done such as yoga, pilates, cardio, weight training, HIIT (high-intensity interval training) and many more. It should be customised according to your lifestyle and medical condition. For example, sedentary lifestyle people should begin working out at a slower pace with an activity like yoga.
Workout sessions that last longer than 45 minutes are not necessary for sedentary lifestyle people. Although exercise is a wonderful long-term stress reliever, lengthy workouts can spike up your cortisol levels. Keep workouts shorter but intense, and this will keep your hormones balanced.
Say YES to healthy fats
You can get healthy fats from foods such as almonds, avocado, olives, flaxseeds, dark chocolates, to name a few. Also, use olive oil or coconut oil instead of normal cooking oil in your food preparation. Keeping your good cholesterols in check ensures your blood vessels are clear and providing all the fats you need to keep your hormones in check.
Balance your intake of Omega-3, 6 fats
Salmon is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. You can also consume healthy seeds and nuts such as flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts. Apart from that, women are encouraged to add in evening primrose oil as a supplement where there is a type of omega-6 fat called GLA (gamma-linoleic acid). GLA can be found in hemp seeds as well. Studies show GLA supports healthy progesterone levels.
Reduce stress and improve sleep patterns
Stress robs you of sleep. Have you experienced tossing and turning trying hard to fall asleep, hours after you’ve gone to bed? Chronic stress can lead to excessive levels of cortisol, and this can disrupt your sleep patterns.
Sudden spurts of weight gain may shock you. Many of us under extreme stress end up bingeing on junk food to fight the overwhelming stress. Chronic stress will increase cortisol levels making you feel hungry faster. Increased levels of stress hormones will increase insulin level and cause a drop in your blood sugar level. Hence, you will have more cravings for junk food, which leads to bingeing and inevitably, weight gain. Try and keep your stress levels to a minimum.
Watch your intake of alcohol. Studies have shown that moderate consumption of alcohol has a major influence on the level of female hormones. Imbalance of female hormones will result in bad mood swings, delayed menstruation, fertility issues and others.
Reduce your caffeine intake
I can’t stress enough of the side effects of caffeine to our body. Some people might not feel their day is complete without a cup of morning coffee but some might feel jittery, anxious, and irritable after few hours of consumption.
Studies have shown that 400mg of caffeine (4 cups taken 6 hours before bedtime has important disruptive [sleep] effects.
Caffeine spikes blood sugar levels as well as the cortisol level in your blood. It is also not recommended for people suffering from gastric, stomach ulcers and leaky gut. It increases the production of gastric juice and the motility rate too.
Avoid birth control pills
Oral contraceptives are a widely used method to prevent pregnancy. However, birth control pills are made up of artificial hormones that are fed to the body to ensure that constant levels of oestrogen and progesterone are maintained. Hence, the gland will stop the natural production of natural hormones. Birth control pills work in many different ways, especially by stopping ovulation (egg release) for fertilisation. Therefore, it is best to seek professional advice before going on the pill.
Heal your gut
Consume probiotics which have lots of good bacteria for your gut. Nourish your gut with gut-friendly food such as fibre-rich food, yoghurt, sauerkraut, sourdough bread and others. This will ensure hormones produced by our endocrine glands are well balanced and synchronised with one another.
In conclusion, mental performance, mood and behaviours will be improved.