What are Hormones?
A hormone is a substance that influences growth and development. These substances act as chemical messengers responsible for functions like metabolism, reproduction, and mood in the human body. These messengers control appetite, weight and mood, among other things and thus they strongly affect mental, physical and emotional health.
Understanding Hormonal Imbalance
Hormones are produced by endocrine glands including the pituitary, pineal, thymus, thyroid, adrenal and pancreas. These glands produce different hormones for different bodily functions. Any minor changes in the production of any of these hormones can cause major imbalances in cells or even the entire body function. Therefore, it is important to keep the hormones balanced.
However, age affects the production of certain hormones. Besides, medications, lifestyle habits, poor diet and nutrition and environmental changes can also cause hormonal imbalance.
Fortunately, a nutritious diet and a healthy lifestyle can help in keeping your hormonal health in check. Here is how you can keep your hormones balanced with the right diet and lifestyle.
Treating Hormonal Imbalance with Nutrition
Protein influences the release of hormones that control appetite and food intake. Eating protein-rich food stimulates the production of hormones that help you feel full.
Healthy fats trigger the release of hormones that help you feel full and satisfied. On the contrary, trans fats can promote insulin resistance and increase the storage of belly fat. To optimize hormone health, consume a healthy fat source at each meal.
Soluble fibre is an important component of a healthy diet. Eating fibre-rich food protects against insulin resistance and overeating. It can also help in increasing insulin sensitivity and stimulates the production of hormones that make you feel full and satisfied. Although soluble fibre tends to produce the strongest effects on appetite and eating, insoluble fibre can also prove to be equally helpful.
Avoid Refined Carbs
Sugar and refined carbs have been linked to many health problems. Avoiding or minimizing these foods may be instrumental in optimizing hormone function.
Treating Hormonal Imbalance with Lifestyle Changes
Avoid Overeating and Undereating
Over or under eating may also result in hormonal changes which may, in turn, lead to weight-related problems. While overeating can increase insulin hormone levels and reduce insulin sensitivity, cutting down on calories can increase the stress hormone cortisol levels.
It is important to consume enough calories which can help you maintain hormonal balance and a healthy weight.
Physical activity can strongly influence hormonal health. Exercising can reduce insulin levels and increase insulin sensitivity. Besides, physical activity can boost levels of muscle-maintaining hormones and growth hormones.
Poor sleep has been linked to hormonal imbalances including insulin, cortisol, leptin, ghrelin and growth hormone. Despite a nutritious diet and optimum exercise, not getting enough sleep can disbalance your hormonal health.
As mentioned earlier, hormones are involved in every aspect of health – physical, mental and emotional. And, we need a very specific amount of these chemicals in our body for its optimum functioning.
Although certain factors are beyond control to maintain a healthy hormonal balance, we can still keep the production of these chemicals in check by following the above-mentioned ways. Consuming nutritious foods, exercising regularly and engaging in other healthy behaviours goes a long way toward improving your hormonal health.