Our bodies contain over 50 hormones, which are secreted into our blood stream and regulated by our endocrine system. Hormones are responsible for a number of functions, including: growth, mood, metabolism, reproduction and stress. However, sometimes our hormones become unbalanced and problems occur. To keep your hormones and body at equilibrium, read our list below.
Be Coy with Soy
There is controversy over the consumption of soy. Soy is highly nutritious because it contains essential fatty acids, proteins, fibre, vitamins and minerals. However, soy is a goitrogen which inhibits iodine uptake; this is a particular problem for women. Women store iodine in their thyroid, breasts and ovaries, therefore an iodine deficiency could potentially lead to thyroid disorders like: goiters, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism and thyroid cancer. Additional consequences include breast/ovary cysts and breast/ovarian cancer. If you like soy opt for naturally fermented soy e.g. soy sauce, miso, tempeh and natto, instead of unfermented soy products like soy milk and soy cheese.
Cut Down on Caffeine
Excess caffeine (3+ cups) reduces the body’s ability to absorb iron. An iron deficiency decreases the liver’s capability of circulating hormones, including thromboprotein which regulates blood platelet production.
Feast on Fibre
Used hormones are detoxified by the liver and secreted into the intestines, before being passed out of the body. But sometime this doesn’t happen. This is where fibre plays a very useful role, according to studies fibre can bind to waste hormones and help filter them out of the body. Ensure you eat fruit, vegetables and whole grains to get your recommended 18g of fibre.
Fight with Phytonutrients
‘Phyto’ simply means plant. Fruits and vegetables have endless benefits, cruciferous are particularly beneficial. These vegetables contain a substance called indole 3 carbinol (I3C) which the body metabolises to diindolymethane (DIM); this regulates the hormone oestrogen and has breast cancer fighting properties. Cruciferous vegetables include: broccoli, brussels, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, bok choy and kohlrabi.
Leptin is a hormone that regulates fat storage, hunger and metabolism. A leptin deficiency may result in poor sleep, food cravings and slow metabolism. To maximise your leptin levels reduce your sugar intake, eat whole grains, leafy greens, protein for breakfast to kick start your metabolism and try to get 8 hours sleep a night.
Exercise makes your body release chemicals (endorphins) that boost your sense of well-being, leaving you feeling satisfied and optimistic. Furthermore a workout can suppress hormones associated with stress and anxiety, as well as improve your immunity and help you relax. Moreover studies have shown that just 15 minutes of intense exercise, a few times a week can make a real difference to you overall health.
Sleep is when your body gets busy repairing, rejuvenating and restoring, so it is essential you get a good night’s sleep. Sleep deprivation can lead to multiple problems including increased production of the stress hormone cortisol, fatigue, anxiety, and an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Stress wreaks havoc with your body’s hormone balance. Stress triggers the release of the hormones adrenaline, norepinephrine (noradrenaline) and cortisol. Both adrenaline and norepinephrine are immediate fight of flight responses to stressful situations. The steroid hormone cortisol is also essential when the body is survival mode; it restricts non essential processes like growth, immunity and reproductive drive. However, constant exposure to cortisol can cause serious problems: reduced immunity, high blood pressure, acne, increased fat storage, depression, infertility and many more.
It is so important that you dedicate a little time everyday to unwind and rebalance your body. Try deep breathing for 15 minutes, clinical trials have shown this reduces hot flushes, night sweats and stress. Yoga is also great for relaxing as well as strengthening your mind and body.
Little adjustments to your lifestyle can make a huge difference, so give it go!
If you see no improvement or feel concerned seek professional advice.