I think hormones are highly underrated when we are talking about our health and particularly hormonal balance. They play such a crucial role when it comes to how we feel each day as they affect every aspect of our health and wellbeing.
We have a huge amount of hormones, actually around 50 that are all keeping our system running well until there is an imbalance. Having balanced hormones is critical for our body to function optimally. If they are out of balance we don’t feel energised, our body is not burning fat, our sex hormones are affected and we can then suffer with a lot of varying symptoms.
Our hormones are affected not only by how we sleep and our stress levels, but they are also highly responsive to what we eat. Food does more than just provide energy; it can set off a cascade of hormonal changes
In todays society, where stress and busy timelines occur, feeling fatigued is becoming more and more common, with many people finding it hard to get themselves out of bed, let alone get themselves through the day. We’re relying more and more on stimulants such as coffee and alcohol to keep us going – but in the long run, this simply isn’t sustainable for our health.
To create happy balanced hormones and an all round well working body you need to provide your body with a lot of care.
SO how can we support our hormone health and balance? My tips are
• Eat Real Food
When balancing hormones, don’t skimp on food, but eat high quality foods with a lot of nutrients. Diet is vital for hormone balance since your body needs the building blocks to make hormones properly.
Eat more high quality proteins, nutritious fats and lots of vegetables and fruits to provide your body what it needs.
Avoid foods like sugar, caffeine, vegetable/seed oils and processed foods to make sure that you are focusing on high quality foods with a lot of available nutrients for the body.
I don’t tell my clients to restrict food intake otherwise this can cause more stress on the body.
Our body needs nutrients to function properly and without them we just feel depleted. Food should look or resemble its original form.
• Eat Vegetables, a minimum of 2 ½ cups per day. Vegetables are our superfoods as they are a rich source of essential vitamins and minerals and antioxidants. Ideally they need to be included in all our meals and should take up ½ of our plate. Eat seasonally and a wide variety. Yellow and orange color vegetables are rich in Vitamin-A, beta carotenes, zea-xanthins and cryptoxanthins, whereas dark-green vegetables are a good source of minerals and phenolic, flavonoid as well as anthocyanin antioxidants. Replace rice crackers with vegetable sticks. Replace the second coffee or tea with a vegetable juice.
• Eat Fat and Protein. It reaches the satiety centre of our brain really quickly to let us know that we are eating and we are full and have had enough. Add avocado or nuts and seeds to each meal to help feel full for longer.
• Reduce Caffeine and Alcohol. Both caffeine and alcohol are stimulants for our nervous system and adrenals, and reducing intake can really support hormone balance. Once you start to reduce your consumption you will really notice how much better you sleep and feel on a daily basis.
• Take up a Restorative Practice such as yoga, pilates or meditation. Incorporating the ritual of deep breathing is incredibly rejuvenating for the nervous system, decreasing the amount of stress hormones circulating in our body. If you cant make a regular class just try to spend 15 minutes each day taking deep diagrammatic breaths. Breathing with your diaphragm communicates to your body that everything is ok and safe. It is the fastest way to lower stress hormones and its free!
• Sleep. Sleep is such an important practice for supporting your hormones. Make an effort to get to bed early and try to get 7-8 hours every night. Sleep is important for regulating ghrelin and leptin, the two hormones responsible for regulating hunger and appetite. Sleep also plays a role in how well your cells use insulin. A number of studies have found that less than 7 hours of sleep can increase our hunger hormones, which can then lead to weight gain. Sleep is so important for hormone balance and our nervous system.
• Exercise is important to move the hormone cortisol through the body and to balance the nervous system. Just 20 minutes each day is enough. If you are doing high intensity exercise every day this may be too much and tip the balance of the nervous system. Its also important to build in strengthening exercises to increase your muscle mass. This helps with insulin sensitivity and increases metabolism.
• Sunshine is our best source of vitamin D. Vitamin D forms in our skin when exposed to sunshine and it plays a huge role in our body particularly with respect to our immunity and hormone production.
Many people in Australia are diagnosed with vitamin D deficiency and its important to get sun exposure either every day or second day
So how much is enough? A group of experts have published the following guidelines in the Medical Journal of Australia.
From October to March, 10 to 15 minutes of unprotected sun exposure of the face, arms and hands before 10am or after 3pm, three to four times a week, will give you enough Vitamin D without skin damage. During Winter especially in Victoria, you will need longer periods of exposure.
Are you at risk of developing hormonal imbalance?
Hormone levels may fluctuate, and that is a normal occurrence. Our bodies are designed to cope with these changes without distress. However there are times when factors cause severe hormonal changes resulting in overwhelming symptoms of hormonal imbalance. If left unchecked we can experience long term issues such as PCOS, thyroid issues and extreme fatigue.
Its important to keep your hormones in check and there are immense benefits from eating real food and taking up restorative practices. They allow the body and our hormone system to regulate itself.
There are many other factors that can affect hormone balance in the body. The tips above are general guidelines.
If you need help with balancing your hormones contact me at www.alisontehan.com