They play a huge role in your health, so here are four ways to make sure they are in balance
Whether you’re gaining weight, can’t sleep well, don’t have energy or sex drive, or have poor focus, it’s very likely that your hormones are out of balance.
Hormones regulate a lot what goes on in your body from fat storage (insulin), hunger (ghrelin/leptin) and sex drive (testosterone/estrogen) to alertness (cortisol) and sleep (melatonin).
If your body, however, doesn’t produce them effectively and at the right time, it can really wreak havoc on your daily life.
Let’s start at the beginning — what the heck are hormones?
The easy definition according to WebMD is “hormones are substances produced by your endocrine glands that have a tremendous effect on bodily processes. They affect growth and development, mood, sexual function, reproduction, and metabolism.”
Okay, another set of words you might not be familiar with is endocrine glands. Glands are what make up the endocrine system in your body and make hormones.
Think of the endocrine system as the US mail system. Each city’s post office is a gland that delivers hormones (mail) where they need to go, to the correct address. And if you don’t get the mail you’re waiting for, you get upset. Hence, if your body doesn’t get the hormone where and when it needs it, it gets upset and won’t work properly.
Well, now hopefully you understand why hormones are super important, so let’s take a look at how you can make sure they’re in balance, without hormone therapy.
Dr. Don Colbert author of Dr. Colbert’s Hormone Health Zone mentions that hormonal issues are associated with long-term, serious health problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure. There’re, however, natural ways to boost hormones or bring them back to balance.
“The foundational, do-it-yourself plan is really the best place for most people, regardless of age or gender, to begin their hormone therapy,” Colbert says. “It is the basis of good health.
Dr. Colbert suggests this nutritional approach in which 70 percent of the daily food intake comes from fat (fish oil, seeds, nuts), 15 percent is protein (grass-fed meats, fish), and the remaining 15 percent is carbohydrates (salads, vegetables, herbs).
“The Keto Zone diet is one of the best lifestyle diets you can be on because it is anti-inflammatory and burns fat,” Dr. Colbert says. “You lower inflammation by choosing anti-inflammatory foods and lowering sugars, carbs, and starches dramatically.”
Physical activity can strongly influence hormonal health. Two major benefits are lowering insulin levels and increasing testosterone. “Incorporating weight-lifting and some cardio like bike riding or walking on a regular basis make a big difference,” Dr. Colbert says.
Another hormone, called irisin is also released during exercise. New research shows that irisin, which researchers discovered only a few years ago, promotes neuronal growth in the brain’s hippocampus, a region critical for learning and memory.
Previous studies suggested that irisin mainly benefitted energy metabolism. But this research found that the hormone may also help explain why physical activity improves memory and seems to play a protective role in brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Find ways to relax
“Stress affects us in every conceivable way,” Dr. Colbert says. “Reducing it is a must for hormonal health. There’s a certain amount we endure, but developing ways to combat stress is key, lowering cortisol levels. When cortisol levels rise, it triggers calorie intake and even obesity.
Try soothing music on a long commute, doing things you enjoy, cutting back on caffeine and electronics, turning the noise down in your life – in general taking more time for yourself.”
Get more sleep
About one-third of adults don’t get enough sleep. Research shows those who fail to get enough sleep increase their risk of chronic disease. You should aim for seven hours nightly. “Increased sleep boosts the adrenal gland reserve by decreasing the amount of cortisol that the body produces when under extreme stress,” Dr. Colbert says. “Cortisol lowers testosterone levels, so fixing this one area would have a compound beneficial effect on the body.”
“Can you boost all your different hormones by improving your lifestyle – changing your diet, exercising, having less stress, getting more sleep?” Dr. Colbert asks. “The answer is a resounding yes.”