Ways to Promote Healthy, Balanced Hormone Levels

Ways to Promote Healthy, Balanced Hormone Levels

Published on Thursday, March 30, 2023 by Kari Tallent

When Balancing Your Hormones Feels Like a Tightrope Walk

Often when we hear anyone talking about hormones we may think of moodiness, the menstrual cycle, or menopause, but this is only a fraction of what hormones impact. The Endocrine system is home base to a multitude of hormones that act as chemical messengers within our bodies. Hormones assist with metabolism and digestion, growth and development, stress, mood, fertility, and more. Whether you are in your late twenties or going through menopause, male or female, you are impacted by hormones. Because of this, there are some things you should adopt in your lifestyle to help with maintaining good hormone balance. 

Before we get too ahead of ourselves, let us examine some reasons to manage our eating patterns and lifestyle habits to help with hormone balance. Hormones that impact metabolism, the reproductive system, stress, and mood are what we want to focus on. 

  1. Metabolism: Insulin (blood sugar regulator), Leptin (appetite control), Ghrelin (appetite stimulant), and Thyroid (T3 and T4)
  2. Reproductive System: Estrogen (puberty - women, regulate menses, control cholesterol, bone health) and Testosterone (Puberty – men, sex drive, bone health, muscle strength)
  3. Stress and Mood: Cortisol (stress hormone), Adrenaline (fight or flight), and Melatonin (sleep hormone)

When looking at the hormones that impact metabolism, one of the most important to understand is Insulin. Insulin plays a crucial role in blood sugar regulation and management. When someone becomes insulin resistant they lose the ability to control their blood sugar. Dietary and lifestyle modifications can help reverse insulin resistance.

One way to assist with blood sugar control is reducing simple carbohydrate intake and starting to include more Omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. Fish and Seafood with low mercury content, nuts and seeds, and plant oils are food items to incorporate into your eating pattern. 

Along with the Omega-3-rich foods, other foods you want to include are fresh fruits and vegetables- ideally cruciferous, but many of these need to be avoided if you are following a Low-FODMAP diet. Additional foods to include are high fiber, complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, flaxseed (ground as our bodies cannot process and break down the whole seed), beans, and root vegetables.  

Foods to avoid are processed foods, fried foods, high sugar intake and artificial sweeteners, caffeine, and alcohol. These foods can send mixed signals to your hormones causing them to either over or underwork. Other things that can impact hormones are being overly restrictive with calories, getting poor-quality sleep, and not being active. Making changes to your eating pattern and your exercise habits can provide an overall improvement in hormone imbalance.

Quality sleep is very important for keeping your ghrelin and leptin hormones regulated. Ghrelin is the hormone that triggers feelings of hunger and leptin is the hormone that lets you know when you are getting full. When you sleep less than 7 hours consistently, you are not allowing your body to go through all the phases of the sleep cycle. This negatively impacts your hormones and can lead to a higher prevalence of obesity and a higher body mass index. 

The best way to promote healthy, balanced hormone levels is to reduce your stress with soothing activities and remain active with exercise. Adopt healthy sleep habits by getting more than 7 hours of sleep at night. Additionally, following a dietary pattern that is similar to the Mediterranean diet is the best option to meet all the requirements for hormone balance with foods. You want to focus on healthy fats, lean proteins, high fiber/whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and limiting processed or synthetic items from your diet. 

Now please understand this is a guideline to adapt to your lifestyle. If you have a medical condition that is causing a thyroid disorder or other hormone dysfunction please talk to your doctor. While applying these natural methods may help prevent future complications, they should be used as a complementary treatment with any medications that you and your doctor have started. By adding these healthy lifestyle habits you may be able to have medication reduction and better management of your symptoms. 

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