Hormones can profoundly affect the way you feel, which makes having healthy hormone function extremely important. Hormones are regulated by the endocrine system, and they are crucial for many body functions. They regulate mood, growth and development, tissue function, metabolism, and reproductive health. There are many hormones in the body that control all of these various body functions, including estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, cortisol, thyroid stimulating hormone, and many others. Having healthy hormone function is dependent on many factors, including stress, infections, and nutrition. In order to ensure all of your hormones are functioning properly, there are several steps you can take.
1. Manage Stress
As you know, stress can do a lot of damage to the body, and one of the ways it harms the body is by disrupting healthy hormone function. When you experience stress your body goes into fight-or-flight mode, which affects the hormones in your body. Cortisol is one hormone that is immediately affected as it increases rapidly in response to stress. Over time, this can lead to adrenal fatigue. Stress also has an influence on thyroid hormone function by causing hyperthyroidism, overactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism, underactive thyroid. Acute stress has actually been shown to cause a thyroid storm, an acute hyperthyroidism episode. To prevent these hormonal imbalances, you need to find ways to manage your stress. Yoga, meditation, and classical music are all proven ways to decrease stress. Also, you should limit the amount of activities that you take on. This will help you to feel less stressed, which will help your hormones stay in balance.
Sleep is crucial for your hormone health. Not sleeping enough can have a very deleterious effect your hormones. While you sleep your body is releasing and regulating many hormones, among which include human growth hormone, leptin, and ghrelin. As you sleep, human growth hormones are released in your body. These hormones are essential for repair of your body, and without them recovery from illnesses and injuries takes much longer. In addition to growth hormones being influenced by your sleep, the hormones that regulate hunger are also influenced. If you do not get enough sleep leptin levels decrease and ghrelin levels increase, resulting in you feeling hungry and eating more. I am sure none of you want your growth hormones or hunger regulating hormones to be out of balance, which means you need to make sure you get enough sleep. So, turn your lights out at a reasonable hour and make sure you get at least 8 hours of sleep.
For many people, waking up means having a cup of coffee to get going in the morning. Yet, drinking coffee or other caffeinated beverages can negatively impact your hormones. Caffeine perks you up because it is so stimulating. The stimulating effect of caffeine increases cortisol and norepinephrine to levels that are similar to those during times of acute stress. As you already know, stress is harmful to hormone function. The stress the body experiences when you drink caffeine is especially harmful to the adrenal glands. Cortisol is released by the adrenal glands, and if it is constantly being released you will experience adrenal fatigue. It is possible to prevent adrenal fatigue, but it does mean giving up caffeine. Although that may seem difficult, if you are getting enough sleep caffeine shouldn’t be necessary.
4. Healthy Diet
For your hormones to function properly, you need to get all of the required vitamins and minerals. Each hormone needs specific nutrients to work, which means it is essential you eat a healthy diet if you want to feel your best. For example, the hormone imbalances that cause PMS are due in part to vitamin E levels. Having enough vitamin E can help alleviate PMS symptoms of breast tenderness and cramps. In addition to reproductive hormones, your thyroid hormones also have specific nutrients they need to function properly. Two of the most important hormones for your thyroid are selenium and iodine. Without selenium and iodine your thyroid hormones will not work properly, and you can experience hypothyroidism. Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables can greatly help your hormones stay in balance. However, as you have seen, there are other factors that also influence hormonal health.
5. Avoid Endocrine Disruptors
Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that affect the way your hormones function. They can mimic hormones and cause overstimulation, or they can alter how hormones are made and controlled. Every hormone in your body can be affected by endocrine disruptors; however, each endocrine disruptor tends to affect specific hormones. BPA, for instance, imitates estrogen, causing reproductive problems. BPA's estrogenic effects have been linked to early puberty and even breast cancer. Avoiding endocrine disruptors like BPA, which is found in plastic and cans, can help keep your hormones in balance. Other endocrine disruptors to watch out for include parabens and phthalates, which are common in many beauty products.
While too much exercise can negatively impact hormones by making your body think it is in stress mode, the right amount of exercise can stimulate helpful hormones. When you interval train, growth hormones are secreted by the pituitary gland, contributing to collagen and muscle growth. Muscle growth also occurs during intense physical training because testosterone is released. Although thought of as a male hormone, both men and women have testosterone, and it is a hormone that helps build and repair muscle. Physical activity is important for general health, and, as you can see, it can also positively impact hormone health.
7. Choose the Right Fats
Hormone health is greatly affected by the type of fat you eat. Polyunsaturated fats, which are found in vegetable oils, are very unstable and oxidize in the body. This can lead to inflammation and hormonal irregularities. Consuming high amounts of polyunsaturated fats has actually been linked to reproductive problems like endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome. While eating the wrong fats can negatively impact hormones, eating the right fats can be beneficial. Coconut oil is one fat that has been shown to greatly improve hormone health. It has an ability to balance hormones, and is especially good for the thyroid gland. If your thyroid in underactive, coconut oil can help increase your thyroid hormone production.
Properly functioning hormones are incredibly important for health. When your hormones are in balance you feel your best. However, when your hormones are out of balance you can experience a whole host of problems. Fortunately, there are some easy steps you can take to balance your hormones. Do you feel you need help balancing your hormones?