Hormones are involved in every aspect of your health, and hormonal imbalances can increase your risk of diabetes, heart disease, menstrual irregularities, infertility and other health problems. Hormones are chemical messengers that play a huge role in controlling your appetite, metabolism and weight, cognitive function and mood among other things. Normally, your endocrine glands produce precise, microscopic amounts of hormones that your body needs, and the smallest imbalance can bring about major changes in the body.
Unfortunately, hormonal imbalances have become increasingly common due to our modern fast-paced lifestyle, increased amounts of stress and nutritional deficiencies. The good news is there are several things we can do to help balance our hormones. So, if you’re struggling with mood swings, weight issues, or just want to improve your overall health, here are some ways to balance hormones naturally:
There are so many mental, emotional and physical benefits that come from incorporating regular exercise into your daily routine. Exercise, even walking, increases oxygen flow throughout your body and levels of cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine (all the hormones that boost energy levels). Other benefits of exercising include its ability to reduce insulin levels, and increase levels of testosterone which are muscle-maintaining hormones that decline with age.
Avoid sugar and refined carbs
Studies have shown that sugar plays a huge role in insulin resistance and metabolic disease. Insulin is a hormone that converts glucose into energy. When your cells cannot absorb glucose, it could lead to high blood sugar levels and diabetes. Even refined carbs like white bread have been shown to increase insulin resistance. So, reducing your sugar and refined carb intake could be incredibly beneficial for regulating insulin levels.
Manage stress levels
It’s no surprise that stress can have a major impact on your hormone levels. Cortisol, known as the stress hormone, and adrenaline, know as the fight-or flight hormone, are the two major hormones affected by stress. Chronic stress can lead to anxiety, obesity, high blood pressure and other health issues. Meditation, breath work, self-care and mindfulness are all things we can do to help manage stress levels.
Get enough sleep
Exercising and eating a clean diet is not enough to balance hormones. Poor sleep has been linked to imbalances of several hormones including insulin, cortisol, leptin and more. Getting at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep is key for preventing insulin resistance and increased hunger and stress hormones.
Eat enough protein
Protein is not only important for providing your body with essential amino acids, but it influences the hormones that control appetite. Eating protein has been shown to decrease levels of ghrelin, know as the hunger hormone. So, if you often find yourself hangry, try eating protein at every meal.
Hormone levels change and fluctuate as we age, so it’s important to be mindful of how they impact our overall health. Luckily, these lifestyle changes can impact not only how we feel, but are imperative for balancing hormones naturally.