Our hormones are essentially the messengers which communicate with the rest of our bodies, so ensuring that our hormones are healthy and balanced is one of the most important steps we can take to keep our mental and physical wellbeing in check. While hormonal issues can be related to, caused by, or the result of underlying health conditions, there are lifestyle changes we can make to improve our hormonal wellbeing, and the pay-off can be seen in everything from our skin health to our sleep patterns. If you’re experiencing health problems which could be related to hormonal imbalance, it’s wise to seek help from a health professional, but here are just a few food-related lifestyle tips which may help you along the way. The impact of stress on our hormonal balance and overall health is a whole other issue – we’ll get to that one in time, but for now lets focus on food…
Many of the hormonal imbalances arising in modern society are a result of exposure to the chemical based endocrine disruptors present in everything from body wash to bottles, from food to furniture. One way to limit our exposure to endocrine disruptors and minimise the impact they have on our hormones is through choosing organic food where possible – foods not produced using endocrine-disrupting chemicals.
Regularly consuming foods high in sugars can wreak havoc on your insulin, which is the hormone responsible for converting sugar into energy in the cells. A sugar-heavy diet can ultimately result in insulin resistance, which disrupts a number of the body’s essential functions – from liver function (responsible for detoxification) to heart rate. Keeping high-sugar foods to a minimum where possible means insulin levels remain stable, and in turn, other hormone levels remain stable too, as our hormone system is a holistically interconnected network of chemicals working together in harmony. For women specifically, insulin resistance can have a significant impact on our reproductive hormones – with experts from the Cleveland Clinic finding insulin resistance to be one of the main physiological imbalances in many patients suffering with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
One of the most effective ways to help regulate blood sugar levels, along with limiting your intake of high sugar foods, is ensuring a healthy intake of good quality protein. Eating protein has been found to decrease the production of the “hunger hormone” ghrelin , reducing the likelihood of overeating and weight gain, which can in-turn cause more hormonal imbalances.
We all know it’s important to eat our greens, but for hormone regulation specifically, ensuring your diet includes enough cruciferous vegetables (including kale, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower) can help manage oestrogen metabolism within the body. Another benefit of getting your daily dose of veg is the impact it has on our microbiome – the ecosystem of bacteria within the gut. The fibre present in vegetables feeds the bacteria in our gut, allowing them to form of a strong mucus lining which in turn improves digestion, immunity and reduces inflammation. Focusing on reducing inflammation in the body allows hormones and other essential chemicals to flow easily to where they need to be, so consuming anti-inflammatory foods (such as dark leafy greens) and engaging in inflammation-lowering activities (such as meditation, Yoga and cold water exposure) are simple steps we can take to improve our hormonal health.
Store food safely
Most plastic containers are now made free from the harmful bisphenol A (BPA), which mimics oestrogen in the body and can wreak havoc on our hormones. To be sure though, it’s wise to store food in safer (more environmentally friendly) containers: stainless steel or glass containers work perfectly, and products such as The Swag will help you extend the lifetime of your produce in a way that’s hormone-friendly (and pleasing on the eye). Choosing safe cooking equipment can also help limit your exposure to hormone disrupting chemicals – our personal favourites coming from Australian-owned brand (and TCS vendor) Solidteknics.
Every body is different, and although lifestyle changes such as diet can help balance out our hormones, a serious hormonal imbalance can be the result of or reason for more serious underlying health issues which require more specific help. Many health experts recommend getting your hormone levels checked regardless – even if your cycle is regular, your moods stable and your stress levels regulated, a hormone check might help you discover a simple step you can take to improve your very unique hormonal ecosystem. These suggestions are guidelines based on our research, and we’d recommend seeking medical health if you are experiencing significant health issues.
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