Hormones have a huge effect on health and wellbeing, with an imbalance of these chemical messengers linked to a wide range of physical and psychological problems. Involved in everything from growth and metabolism through to mood and reproduction, life can be hell when your hormones are out of whack. If you want to avoid the weight gain, lack of energy, and mental confusion that often accompany haphazard hormones, it's important to pay attention to your lifestyle and regulate your hormones in a natural and sustainable way.
Hormones are specific chemicals that travel to every organ and tissue of the body via the bloodstream. Common hormones include oestrogen and testosterone for regulating sex, melatonin for sleep, cortisol for stress, adrenaline for fight or flight responses, and thyroid for metabolism. Depending on the hormone in question, imbalance can lead to weight gain, anxiety, mood swings, depression, bloating, insomnia, hot flushes, headaches, and acne among other problems. There are many reasons why hormones can be out of balance, including an unhealthy diet, too much stress, hypothyroidism, and impaired liver function.
Hormone production depends on beneficial fats and cholesterol, which need to be introduced through the diet as the body doesn’t have the building blocks to make them. Eating a variety of foods high in short, medium and long-chain fatty acids is integral for the health of your hormones, including things like avocados, coconut oil, and grass-fed butter. While it's still important to keep track of your fat intake, access to saturated fats is integral for hormone health. By steering clear of oils high in omega-6 fats (with the exception of GLA) and loading up on rich sources of natural omega-3s, you can help your body avoid many of the chronic diseases caused by inflammatory processes.
Along with watching your fat intake, it's also important to pay close attention to the overall health of your gut. Processed foods, gluten, hydrogenated oils, and added sugar can all lead to leaky gut problems and hormone issues, including heightened inflammation and autoimmune reactions such as arthritis and thyroid disorders. Some of the top foods and supplements that support gut and hormone health include bone broth, kefir, fermented vegetables, digestive enzymes, maca, magnesium, probiotics, vitamin D, and high-fiber foods such as vegetables and sprouted seeds.
Sleep and rest are extremely important for hormone regulation, so you should never skimp on your down-time. While it seems like you're doing nothing while asleep, your body is extremely active removing toxins, recharging the mind, and creating hormones. You can improve the quality and quantity of your sleep by limiting or removing artificial light during the evening, optimising your night time environment, taking a daytime nap, meditating, and drinking enough water. To get your hormones running like clockwork, it's also important to avoid stress wherever possible, get enough exercise, and watch your alcohol and caffeine intake.
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