You must have come across various hormone names like estrogen, adrenaline, testosterone, growth hormone, and insulin. Working to balance hormones can play a decisive role in getting things back in line. Hormones play the role of a messenger in the human body. These chemical messengers enable your brain to communicate with your entire body. Secreted by different organs and glands such as thyroid, pancreas, etc., hormones play a crucial part as they help you maintaining homeostasis, i.e., equilibrium. Also, they have a profound effect on your mood, feelings, and your overall health.
In fact, they control everything from your weight and libido to your mood and appetite. Thus, a hormonal imbalance can impact all the things in control of these chemical messengers.
Balanced hormones are vital to your overall health. This balance relies solely on your endocrine system which controls the hormone levels in your body. Having said that; a slight imbalance in your hormones can create a significant health issue.
Conventionally, hormonal imbalance is treated through medications. The common treatments include birth control pills, synthetic hormone replacement therapies, thyroid medications, insulin injections and so on. However, these medications may reduce the symptoms, but most often, would not treat the underlying cause of the hormonal issues.
Moreover, these treatments induce lifelong dependency on the prescription drugs to control the symptoms. Not only this but also such therapies come along with a high risk of severe side effects like anxiety, osteoporosis, stroke, and so on. Therefore, treating hormonal problems naturally is a way better option.
8 Natural Ways To Balance Your Hormones
There are a number of natural ways to balance your hormones. The most effective and the simplest of all are a healthy lifestyle and nutritious diet.
You can balance your hormones by consuming the right nutrition at the right time in a right way. This article will take you through eight natural ways to balance your hormones.
1. Consume Enough Protein Everyday
Be mindful of your daily protein intake. Dietary protein is known to influence the secretion of hormones controlling appetite. According to research, consuming protein decreases the ‘Ghrelin,’ i.e., the hunger hormone levels. It also stimulates the release of hormones like peptide YY (PYY) and glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1), which leave you feeling satiated.
Another study has shown that after having a high-protein meal, the male participants produced 14% more PYY and 20% more GLP-1 as compared to the normal meal.
Not only this but also the female participants in another study had more production of GLP-1 and a feeling of fullness after consuming a diet enriched with 30% protein compared to when they had 10% protein containing diet.
Cognizing all these facts, experts advise at least 20-30 grams of protein intake on every meal to augment hormone health. Therefore, you should incorporate the protein-rich foods in your daily meals; speaking of which, eggs and chicken are the sine qua non of a protein-rich meal. In fact, eggs are an excellent source of Vitamin D, another hormone responsible for keeping overall health intact.
Other high-protein foods include nuts like almonds, pistachios, cashews, cottage cheese, milk, tuna, avocados and more.
Related article: 18 Foods To Help You Build Lean Muscle Mass
2. Exercise Regularly
Physical activity is an answer to more health issue than you may think. Especially for hormonal health, regular exercise proves to be highly effective. Regular exercise decreases the insulin levels and enhances the insulin sensitivity. A study of obese women has shown that exercise increases the insulin sensitivity and adiponectin levels. Adiponectin is a protein hormone having anti-inflammatory effects. It also helps in regulating metabolism.
Insulin is a hormone that has many functions. It enables the cells to extract amino acids and sugar from the bloodstream in order to use them further for energy. Nevertheless, a little amount of insulin is sufficient to serve the purpose.
Insulin in high levels is injurious to health as it may result in heart disease, inflammation, diabetes, and even cancer. High insulin levels are also associated with insulin resistance, which is an unfortunate condition where your cells stop responding adequately to the insulin signals.
Certain kinds of exercise, i.e. aerobics, endurance exercises, strength training, etc. are known to enhance insulin sensitivity along with reducing insulin levels.
Physical activity also helps increase the levels of muscle-maintaining hormones that tend to decline over time, like testosterone, IGF-1, growth hormone, and DHEA.
If you are unable to do a vigorous exercise, you need not worry as the regular walk can also increase the levels of hormone mentioned above.
3. Avoid Refined Carbs and Sugar
Eliminating or minimizing sugar and refined carbs from your life can bode well for your hormones health. It also prevents obesity and diabetes. Many studies have linked sugar and refined carbs with numerous health problems.
It has been proved times and again that fructose can raise insulin levels and cause insulin resistance. Primarily, the obese and overweight, fructose-consuming individuals who have prediabetes or diabetes are more prone to these conditions. Notably, fructose comprises at least half of most sugar forms including natural sugars like honey and maple syrup.
Moreover, foods containing a high amount of refined carbs such as pretzels and white bread are known to induce insulin resistance when consumed in large quantity.
On the contrary, consuming moderate or low carb diet comprising whole foods can reduce the insulin levels in obese and overweight individuals having prediabetes or other insulin-resistant conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
The whole foods recommended by experts to balance the hormones include apples, bananas, blueberries, avocados, oranges, eggs, meats, nuts, and vegetables.
4. Learn to Deal with Stress
There is a dictum in traditional Chinese medicine that an individual’s health is directly affected by his/her internal emotions and treating the emotional imbalances, lifestyle choices, and external factors can play a role in the prevention of health issues caused by hormonal imbalances. It also states that the emotions of impatience and frustration result in liver disease, which may eventually give rise to estrogen imbalance.
Apart from the TCM, studies have attributed stress with hormonal wreak. Stress affects the two major hormones; cortisol – the stress hormone – and adrenaline – the ‘fight or flight’ hormone. Chronic stress leaves the cortisol hormone levels elevated, which results in excessive calorie intake and thus, obesity.
Stress also elevates the adrenaline levels in human body causing high blood pressure, anxiety, and rapid heart rate. However, the symptoms are short-lived, as adrenaline rarely remains elevated chronically.
Research has proven that stress-reducing techniques like yoga, meditation, massage, and listening to music can lower your cortisol levels. According to a 2005 review of studies, the massage therapy not only reduces the cortisol levels by 31% but also gives rise to the levels of mood-boosting hormones serotonin and dopamine by 28% and 31% respectively. Thus, put aside at least 10-15 minutes of your day for the stress-reducing activities.
5. Consume Healthy Fats
The human body needs different kinds of fats to produce hormones. These fats include cholesterol and saturated fat. Also, foods rich in short, medium, and long-chain fatty acids keep your hormones under control. The essential fats not only play a fundamental role in hormones production but also maintain the inflammation levels, help in weight loss, and augment your metabolism.
On the other hand, refined carbohydrates affect opposite to that of healthy fats. These carbs cause inflammation and hormonal imbalance in your body. Sources of healthy fats, which are also anti-inflammatory, include grass-fed butter, wild-caught salmon, coconut oil, and avocados.
Here is a widely applicable principle: stay away from oils rich in omega-6 fats like sunflower, corn, soybean, peanut, and canola while loading up on sources rich of natural omega-3s such as wild fish, walnuts, grass-fed animal products, and chia seeds. However, there is an anomaly regarding Omega-6 fat. You should equip your diet with gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an Omega-6 fat, which can upkeep healthy progesterone levels.
According to many studies, taking healthy fats at meals leads to the release of hormones that make you feel full. The hormones released due to healthy fat intake include GLP-1, CCK, and PYY.
6. Eat Eggs Everyday
You must have heard that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but eggs got ignored when this proverb was being chalked out. Eggs are one of nutrition powerhouse of the planet. As mentioned earlier, they are known to influence hormones, which regulate the food intake. They also increase PYY.
In a study, men experienced lower insulin and ghrelin levels after consuming eggs at breakfast as compared to when they ate a bagel for breakfast. Not only this but also after having eggs-containing breakfast, they felt full and consumed fewer calories for the next 24 hours. Interestingly, these positive effects occurred when the participants ate both, the egg yolk and the egg white.
Another study has shown that consuming whole eggs on a low-carb diet increases the insulin sensitivity more than the low-carb diet containing egg whites only. It is pertinent to mention here that most studies have considered the benefits of consuming eggs at breakfast; however, you can eat them with any meal and enjoy its benefits.
7. Consume Fiber-rich Foods
Fiber is a sine qua non of a healthy diet. Studies have shown that fiber increases insulin sensitivity and triggers the production of hormones, which make you feel satiated. The soluble fiber plays the most part as to the effect on the appetite, but insoluble fiber also has some role.
A study of obese and overweight people shows that consuming oligofructose, a soluble fiber increases PYY levels while taking the insoluble fiber cellulose tends to rise GLP-1 levels. It also finds that both fibers’ consumption results in reduced appetite.
Therefore, if you want to protect yourself from overeating and insulin resistance, consume high-fiber foods every day. They have many other benefits like promoting weight loss, lowering blood sugar levels and treating constipation.
Experts recommend taking 25 grams of fibers daily for women while for men they suggest 38 grams each day. Unfortunately, majority’s intake is only 15-17 grams per day. Given its benefits, you should increase your fiber intake immediately. In order to do that, you should make the food items like pears, strawberries, avocado, apples, bananas, carrots, etc. a part of your daily meals.
8. Steer Clear of Sugary Beverages
As mentioned earlier, sugar is not good for your health, and liquid sugar is worse for that matter. Studies have attributed the high consumption of sugary beverages with insulin resistance. When people consume a highly sweetened beverage, their cells become resistant to the effects of the insulin, i.e., they experience insulin resistance.
They are even more detrimental for the overweight and obese individuals including children as well. In a study, the overweight people got higher blood insulin levels after consuming 25% of their calories by drinking high-fructose beverages. They also experienced decreased insulin sensitivity and enhanced belly fat storage.
Moreover, research states that drinking sugary beverage results in excessive calorie intake, as it does not give the fullness signals similar to that of consuming solid food.
It needs to be mentioned here that with sugary beverage it means not only the sugary soda but also the fruit juices, highly sweetened coffee or any other form of liquid sugar. If you want to live a healthy life, you need to avoid consuming sugary drinks completely. They are a known reason for weight gain. Not only this but also these beverages make your liver overloaded, which turns the fructose into fat. A part of this fat is left in the liver and may result in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. These drinks also result in belly fat accumulation.
Natural ways and remedies are the best solutions to a health problem. The rule is same when it comes to hormonal imbalance, as no one would like to remain dependent on a medication for the rest of their life. Also, the risk of side effects comes along pills. Moreover, hormones also have an effect on one another. Thus, if you are not taking your diet properly and it is affecting the release of a certain hormone, it will lead to the imbalance of other hormones as well. The diet itself best solves the issue that is created by hormonal imbalance.