When things physically aren’t quite right, were pretty quick to point the finger at our hormones. I’ve heard, “His hormones are out of control at the moment,” or “My hormones are turning me into a mad woman!” And it’s true, hormones are involved in so many conditions and often unpleasant symptoms. But perhaps we’re too quick to shoot the messenger, because after all that’s exactly what hormones are…chemical messengers.
The endocrine system is responsible for the production and regulation of hormones. The chemical messaging of hormones that plays out between brain, tissue & organ allows digestion, growth, sexual function, reproduction and repair to occur. Hormones are BUSY! Easy to imagine how things could go awry when there is so much to do. A hormonal imbalance can impact so many facets of life, from sleep quality and mental health, to fertility.
So what causes this disruption in the flow of hormones, what leads to imbalance? There is no one answer, trauma, emotional stress, sleep dysfunction, infection, toxins, food allergy, medications or simply aging. And while there is no one size fits all therapy, there are in my mind, two major contributors that everyone can get busy trying to improve.
Blood glucose regulation and reducing adrenal stress.
When we consume too much sugar, our blood glucose rises, along with our insulin levels. If this goes on to often our body starts to ignore the role of insulin (which is to get glucose into the cells) and glucose and insulin are left to roam the body causing trouble.
There is a flow on effect at play here....
When our body becomes under the strain of dealing with excess insulin, our adrenal hormones rise, (in particular cortisol) and head over to the party to see what's happening, leaving a vacancy at the rest of the parties going on. Although a simplified view, hormonal imbalance occurs because there aren’t enough hormones to go around! Because so much cortisol is being produced in response to the insulin resistance, the substrates required to build SEX HORMONES simply aren’t there.
But that is just one consideration of hormone metabolism. How they are used, and eliminated another story. Ensuring you have a healthy digestive system and functioning liver is a great way to improve detoxification of hormones and elimination. Look out for a fibre post discussing this in detail soon!
Good news is, modification to diet and lifestyle can see the reduction in your gluco-corticoid hormones and mineral-corticoids being over utilized in the wrong areas.
Here are some of my other tips to help hormone balance:
1. Eat Fish: Fatty fish like salmon or mackerel deliver important omega-3s and protein both critical in regulating hormone production.
2. Loose the Sugar - Low GI/GL: Eat foods with a low glycaemic index and glycaemic load and work to reduce total sugars. World Health Organisation's (WHO) recommended healthy level of six teaspoons for women (30g) and nine teaspoons of sugar for men (45g) each day. Keep in mind that a glazed jam filled donut has 21 grams of sugar.
3. Eat cruciferous vegetable like Kale, broccoli, brussel sprouts, bok choy, cabbage & cauliflower. They’re high in phytonutrients, soluble fibre and most importantly they aid in the detoxification of excess hormones.
4. Shoot for a healthy body weight.
5. MOVE because muscle acts like an endocrine organ, communicating and releasing hormones to fat tissue, liver and the brain. Increasing the muscle mass to the fat mass ratio helps balance hormones.
6. Cut out the naughty stuff…Shouldn’t need to say it, but smoking, alcohol and illicit drugs are like fuel to a fire when it comes to hormone imbalance.
If you’re experiencing problems with hormone imbalance you’re not alone…it is very common and frustrating. Hormones are really complicated and it is always advised to seek professional help when addressing hormonal problems.