From our mood swings to our physical health, hormones have a lot to do with the way we function. Hormonal imbalance occurs when there is a lot or too little of a hormone in the bloodstream. Because of their role is so essential in the body, even small hormonal imbalances can cause side effects throughout the body. These are basically chemicals that are produced by glands in the endocrine system. Hormones travel through the bloodstream to the tissues and organs and deliver messages that tell the organs what to do, what not to do and when to do it.
There are plenty of reasons why you might develop a hormonal imbalance, which can happen at any time in life. For example, hormonal imbalances tied to adrenal fatigue or PMS mostly affect younger women. Older women and men face other imbalances like higher-than-normal cortisol levels, low estrogen, or low testosterone.
How diet affects your hormones -
The energy and nutrients you obtain from your diet are the raw materials your body needs to produce hormones and fuel your body. For example, a lot of reproductive hormones are attained from cholesterol, which comes from foods like whole-fat dairy, eggs, butter, or meat.
Hormones always impact one another. That’s why it’s said that within the endocrine system “everything is connected.” Therefore, if your body is producing high levels of certain hormones like cortisol, levels of other hormones will likely drop such as estrogen, progesterone, thyroid hormones, or testosterone.
If your diet doesn’t supply enough energy or “materials” to make all the hormones you need, it’ll prioritize the production of stress hormones first because they’re important for survival.
Your body does not consider reproductive hormones and those responsible for metabolic functions as its first priority. Hence, during times of extreme stress, you may develop unhealthy fluctuations in your hormone levels. Stress can come from emotional or physical sources, originating from anything like not eating enough calories, not sleeping well, or having an infection or being unwell.
How can you prepare yourself against stress? Well, you cannot control which hormones your body will naturally produce, but you can definitely start with a high-quality, nutrient-dense diet as the first step.
The indication of a hormonal imbalance depends on which glands and hormones are affected. The common symptoms for hormonal imbalances include:
- Unhealthy weight gain or weight loss
- Excessive sweating
- High-stress levels
- Poor gut health
- Vitamin D deficiency, too little UV light exposure
- Sleep deprivation, or too little rest and relaxation
- Lack of exercise
- Environmental exposure to toxins
- Unhealthy lifestyle options including smoking, high alcohol consumption, or using drugs
- Changes in sensitivity to cold and heat
- Skin Rashes
- Blood pressure imbalance
- Variations in heart rate
- Brittle bones
- Changes in blood sugar content
- Unexplained long-term fatigue
- Need to go to the bathroom more or less than usual
- Changes in appetite
- Reduced sex drive
- Brittle hair
- Blurred vision
- Inflammation in the neck
First and foremost, it’s essential to address gut health and inflammation. Inflammation, which is the root of all disease including hormonal imbalances which usually stems from your gut. From there, it can affect nearly every aspect of your health because it forces your immune system into overdrive.
When the immune system is overactive due to high-stress levels, genetics, or an inflammatory diet, you may develop autoimmune reactions as your body affects its own tissue or glands.
And since gut health plays a significant role in hormone regulation, having a gut-related issue such as leaky gut syndrome or irritable bowel disease also increases your chances for hormonal imbalance.
- Eat a balanced diet with proteins, carbs, and fats.
- Reduce inflammatory foods like added sugar, gluten, etc
- Have probiotic foods like fermented yogurt, fruits, legumes, whole grains, oats, etc.
- Consume at least 25-30g of fiber every day like lentils, avocados.
- Eat healthy fats like olive oil, nuts, and seeds, organic dairy, etc.
- Drink enough water
- Take care of your liver - Limit alcohol
- Do not smoke
- Sleep for 7 to 9 hours
- Get sunlight exposure for Vitamin D
Hormones determine a lot of our bodily functions as well as our mental health to such an extent that keeping them balanced is important. But because they have a tendency to go up and down with time, it is essential to keep yourself in pink of health. Everyone is different, and what works for some may not work for you. Therefore, it’s important to check your hormone levels with your doctor before you eat too much or too little of a certain food or make any changes in your diet.