5 Tips to Re-balance Hormones Naturally
Why is it that when you’re feeling a bit moody, or out of sorts, the usual expression is,
“Must be the hormones”?
Well, it’s probably got something to do with the impact that hormones have on our overall physical, mental and emotional health.
Hormones, simply put, are chemical messengers that affect bodily processes. They control your appetite, weight, mood and many more.
Think about it. What causes weight gain during pregnancy? Hormones. Why do most teenagers get moody? Hormones. What determines muscle mass on men? Hormones.
These are just some of the ways we see the role of hormones in our everyday functioning. And yet, we rarely give this health aspect a second thought!
What Exactly are Hormones?
As mentioned, hormones are the body’s internal messengers. They travel in the bloodstream all the way to different tissues and major organs, determining processes like metabolism, sexual function, reproduction, mood and others.
Hormones are produced by endocrine glands – pituitary, pineal, thymus, thyroid, adrenal glands and pancreas. Males and females have separate sex organs – testes in males, and ovaries in females.
Ideally, the endocrine glands produce just the right amount of hormones needed for various bodily functions. However, there are many factors that can cause hormonal imbalance in the body.
For instance, stress, health conditions like diabetes, thyroid issues and tumors, injuries or trauma, and specific medications can disrupt the balance. For women, reproductive changes during pregnancy, breastfeeding, menopause, and conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can create hormonal imbalance.
Signs of Hormonal Imbalance
Some of the common signs of hormonal imbalance, which can affect men and women alike include:
- unexplained weight gain or weight loss
- unusual sensitivity to cold or heat (compared to before)
- changes in bowel movement
- dry skin and puffy face
- muscle aches and tenderness
- frequent urination
- reduced sex drive
- thinning hair
- increased hunger
- increased irritability
5 Tips to Re-balance Hormones Naturally
If you are experiencing hormonal imbalance, worry not. There are a number of healthy lifestyle behaviors that can help improve your hormonal health. Here are key steps to re-balance your hormones the natural way:
- Eat the right amount of protein
Dietary protein is our body’s source of essential amino acids, which the body cannot produce on its own, but is essential for muscle, bone and skin health.
Aside from that, protein supports release of hormones (e.g. insulin, leptin, ghrelin, etc.) that control appetite and food intake.
Studies have found that eating protein regulates ghrelin – the “hunger hormone” and stimulates the production of hormones that make you feel full. In fact, eating a high protein diet can decrease hunger rating by as much as 25% compared to consuming just an average amount of protein.
Health specialists recommend that about 20-30 grams of protein be consumed per meal, to get the most benefits from the food group.
- Exercise (the proper way)
Yes, cliché as it sounds, exercise can significantly influence hormonal health. One key benefit from exercise is that it reduces insulin levels on the body.
Insulin has several major functions, one of which is to signal cells to absorb sugar and amino acids from the bloodstream to maintain your muscles. However, high insulin levels can lead to inflammation, diabetes and heart disease. Plus, it decreases the body’s insulin sensitivity, which can cause a vicious cycle wherein the body is forced to produce excess insulin levels.
Physical activities like aerobic, strength training and endurance exercises have been proven effective in reducing insulin levels and heightening insulin sensitivity.
Take note though, that regular physical activity is the one that will have an effect long term. And try to determine what type of exercise is ideal for your current state. Sometimes, intense exercises can actually make the imbalance worse. Focus on exercises like walking or swimming instead of extended cardio.
- Avoid erratic eating
Overeating or undereating are both equally bad for you, as they create hormonal shifts that can lead to health problems.
Overeating can cause insulin levels to drive up dangerously. Meanwhile, cutting your food intake too much can increase levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which, ironically, signals your body to panic and hold on to the weight.
Eating within your ideal calorie range can help maintain hormonal balance, as well as healthy weight.
- Strive for consistent, quality sleep
No matter how amazing your diet is or how regular you exercise, if you don’t get enough quality sleep, none of these things would matter.
Poor sleep has been linked to imbalances of hormones like insulin, leptin, ghrelin and the growth hormone.
And we’re not just talking about how many hours of sleep. Getting quality sleep that allows you to go through all five stages of sleep cycle is important to keep optimal hormonal balance.
- Learn to manage stress
Stress is just a part of life, and if you are not able to manage it, it can definitely wreak havoc on your balance.
There are two main hormones affected during stress – cortisol and adrenaline.
Chronic stress can keep cortisol levels elevated, which can cause excessive calorie intake and obesity, affecting other appetite-related hormones in the process.
As for adrenaline, elevated levels can cause high blood pressure in the short-term, which can be addressed immediately, but can still impact your health.
Since stressful events are always going to be there, you have to create strategies that help you manage them. Try to engage in meditation, yoga, massage and relaxation, and other stress-reducing activities. Devoting at least a few minutes each day to something that helps you find your balance can make all the difference in your hormonal health.
Hormones are involved in just about every aspect of your health. With the right blend of rest, relaxation diet and physical activity, you can go a long way towards ensuring your overall health. Implement these all-natural strategies to get re-balanced.