Hormones!! They control most of our body’s major systems, and they determine almost everything in our body, from growth, mood and behaviour to metabolism, digestion and fertility…so they’re pretty important! In order to stay fit and healthy, we have to ensure we maintain HORMONAL BALANCE. Like any balancing act, this requires constant fine tuning:
“Think of hormones like a cake recipe. Too much or too little of any one ingredient affects the final product.”
So, what can we do to help achieve this balance?
HERE ARE MY TOP TIPS:
1. Check your nutrition. The energy and nutrients in your diet provide the building blocks your body needs in order to produce hormones, and to fuel your body effectively. This is a huge topic in itself, but in simple terms aim to eat digestion-friendly protein (which helps build hormones), fruit and veg for antioxidants (to balance hormones), healthy fats and complex carbohydrates (also to balance hormones), and probiotics to maintain gut health.
2. Avoid inflammatory foods such as refined carbs, sugar, coffee and alcohol. The inflammatory response is directly connected to hormonal balance.
3. Get active. Exercise affects dopamine and serotonin levels (both of these hormones are mood boosters), and also levels of testosterone and oestrogen. The recommendation is for a a combination of strength training and cardio-vascular workouts to gain maximal health benefits and to boost hormone levels. (We must remember however that excessive exercise can create hormonal imbalance, so considered exercise is key).
4. Practise stress management to help keep stress hormone levels in check. Again, this is a huge topic, but typical strategies (aside from the others in this list) include abdominal breathing, journaling, getting out in nature, and meditation or mindfulness, all of which will help balance these vital hormones.
5. Watch your coffee intake. There are many studies showing just how detrimental coffee can be to our hormonal balance, affecting cortisol, dopamine, oestrogen-to-progesterone and insulin. Admittedly different individuals have varying reactions to coffee, but taking into consideration all of the above, plus the fact that caffeine causes inflammation and can damage the gut lining (all related once more to hormones) it’s surely worth cutting down!
6. Think about plastic pollution. Whilst plastics are slowly destroying our planet, they can also be highly detrimental to our own health, and disruptive to our hormones. Just one example is “Bisphenol A”, or BPA. This is a synthetic chemical found in many plastics, which can either be ingested or absorbed through skin contact. Various studies have shown that once in the body BPA “mimics the action of the hormone oestrogen and disrupts the endocrine system – the glands that produce hormones regulating, among other things, metabolism, growth, sexual function and sleep”. Surely this is reason enough to cut back on plastic…
7. Check your bathroom cabinets. Chemical preservatives used in many commercial cosmetics may cause changes in reproductive hormones in women. We should be especially aware of products containing parabens, as these widely used preservatives have been shown to mimic oestrogen. Do stop and think and do the research before you next buy a new cream, potion or lotion. Choose wisely: there are many alternative products which are genuinely natural and chemical free.
8. Experiment with essential oils. Swap your cosmetic products for those containing essential oils (some of which actually help to balance hormones according to aromatherapy), or alternatively, pop those oils in a diffuser! This is a real double-whammy: essential oils are natural preservatives (so avoiding the need for parabens and such like), and they are also full of anti-oxidants which will aid hormonal imbalance (see point 1 above).
9. Get enough sleep. Give full value to your bedtime routine and sleep patterns, & be sure that when you do get to bed you are experiencing good quality sleep. Without this, every one of the above suggestions will be less effective…
Balancing our hormones can be a long process, but the potential results are endless. Achieving hormonal balance can help to:
“reduce mood swings, depression, anxiety, and irritability; increase energy and reduce fatigue; boost happiness, mental clarity, and focus; reduce weight and decrease hot flashes and night sweats; and eliminate acne and hair loss.”
I’m pretty sure there is something on that list that most people would like to achieve, so why not make a start today? Don’t try to do it all overnight: choose which of the above tips feel more “doable”, and start putting them in place bit-by-bit. And remember: if we wish ANY of the above to be genuinely effective, we must ensure that the tweaks and adaptations we make become ongoing LIFESTYLE CHANGES. A flash-in-the-pan attempt to change your health in any way is never going to create lasting results. Instead it MUST be an ongoing commitment to honour and cherish your own health…