Human life literally teeters on a knife edge, not only are we hurtling through the cosmos on a piece of rock we are also governed by small dosages of hormones produced in our endocrine glands. Just small fluctuations in any one of the production cycles can cause weird consequences. Everything from energy levels and mood to digestion and weight loss/gain can be the result of a hormone imbalance. If you experience any anomalies in your wellbeing natural hormone balance checks are one of the first things you should do. Hormones go far beyond just testosterone and estrogen and the causes of imbalance include, sleep, eating habits, pollution, water, and diet etc.
What are Hormones?
Hormones are the body’s responsive chemical messengers and they have an accumulative and time delayed effect. They are transported in the blood stream or excreted directly into the lymph system and can affect the following;
- Sexual Function and Reproduction
- Blood Pressure
They are produced in the endocrine glands which are;
- Pineal gland: Sleep and reproduction
- Pituitary gland: Creates hormones that regulate other endocrine glands
- Thyroid gland: Metabolism
- Parathyroid glands: Regulates levels of calcium in the blood
- Thymus gland: Immune system
- Adrenal glands: Salt and water balance, blood pressure and heart rate
- Pancreas: Energy and blood glucose levels
- Ovaries: Reproduction
- Testes: Reproduction
All hormones require the appropriate building blocks which are mainly fats and cholesterol. I hope this has set off alarm bells and if you’ve read our posts on chemicals and foods and meat you’ll know that man-made chemicals can mimic natural hormones. Should this happen hormones are either over or under produced in potentially an incorrect way which has negative repercussions. That said as with most health issues the first instance to evaluate is always your diet.
The Essential Hormones
- Growth Hormone
- Thyroid Hormone
These are the core hormones that imbalances in will have the biggest affect on our lives. There are over 100 hormones in the human body and the tips I am going to share mainly cover general hormone wellbeing.
10 Lifesaving Hormone Balancing Tips
1) Limit the Caffeine
Everyday in most western countries there are almost as many cups of coffee consumed as the population of the country. Many people rely on it for its stimulant affects but many don’t know how it’s actually adjusting their hormone levels. Coffee affects the neuroendocrine immune system which consists of the processes and structures that form our central nervous systems, our hormonal systems, and our immune systems.
Caffiene has been shown to increase cortisol and epinephrine which in a satiated state. The levels of cortisol found are equivalent to someone who is considered highly stressed, if an individual leads a stressful life and drinks coffee the coffee exacerbates and makes the symptoms worse. This in combination with other factors in this list only make it worse.
2) Avoid Toxins
What is a toxin? The phrase is thrown around wellness and healthcare blogs a lot I’m going to define them as, “External substances that inhibit or change a the intended function of a process” This means things like pesticides, plastics (BPA) hormones added to livestock or even the bed you sleep in. These toxins interfere with many functions and causes please check out these two articles we’ve published for an in-depth look at their effects.
Avoiding toxins is very much a lifestyle change, from what you eat all the way down to what you use to cook with. Check out the healthiest cookware which you can use to make sure you’re not having leached toxins in your system.
3) Eat coconut oil and avocados.
Did you know that coconut oil is one of the best oils for you and it has so many amazing properties. Hormones are made from saturated fats, without them they can’t be formed. Coconut oil is a very healthy source of these fats, much better than animal fats. Avocados also have a healthy fats which are predominantly monounsaturated, these help increase basic metabolic rate good for weight loss as well as regulating high density lipoprotein.
4) Don’t Rely on “Hormone Balance Pills”
The easy way out is something the majority would prefer to take, but here are Organicgods we don’t want you taking the easy way. These overpriced vitamin tablets do very little to actually change your hormone levels, and rely a lot on the placebo effect in order to work. Looking at the ingredients Vitamins are very important but instead of supplementing a hormone imbalance specific vitamin buy an all-round multivitamin.
Key vitamins/minerals that affect hormones
Vitamin D: This has been shown to be linked to serotonin production1, this is the “feel good hormone”. Vitamin D can usually be acquired from sunlight however this varies with seasons and weather so to get a good all round supply either from the multivitamin or from a vitamin D only supplement like this one is recommended.
Magnesium: Magnesium has long been touted as a great sleep aid, and studies have shown it marginally reduces the affects of insomnia2. Sleep as you’ll find in the next point is a key part in hormone regulation.
Vitamin E: This hormone is particularly useful for women as it helps reduce the effects of premenstrual tension, if you’ve ever experienced breast tenderness, depression, mood swings and cramps before a period then look to supplement some vitamin E, it may help.
Vitamin C: Everyone knows how effective vitamin C is in boosting the immune system but it’s also able to help reduce the mental and physical stresses on the body by reducing the effects of cortisol and controlling adrenaline.3
Sleep affects the pituitary gland which as mentioned earlier is the endocrine keystone, as it regulates the whole system. It’s important for growth hormone release (important for growth and recovery) and if inhibited by lack of sleep, corticotropin releasing hormone (which affects stress levels).
Sleep also affects two nervous systems the sympathetic and the parasympathetic, both divisions of the autonomous nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system function is decreased during deep sleep and parasympathetic is increased. A sympathovagal imbalance occurs with sleep loss and this affects the peripheral endocrine system, hormones that are particularly affected include: insulin and leptin.
Aim to get 7-9 hours of sleep per day and try to go to be earlier, night owls tend to suffer from sleep related hormone issues than an early bird.
6) Avoid Soy – Especially Women
Soy is becoming increasingly prevalent in our diets, it’s used by many people who are lactose intolerant, which I am myself but in terms of hormone function it isn’t very beneficial. It’s classed as a goitrogen which is a substance that blocks function of the thyroid gland. It does this by stopping iodine uptake, this is usually used and stored in the thyroid as well as in the breasts and ovaries.
Lack of iodine can result in hyperthyroidism, goiters and thyroid cancer. Restaurants are using soy based oils for cakes and cooking so pay particular attention when eating out to the oils used.
7) Reduce Stress
You only have a take a look around on the morning commute I make on the Victoria line to tell that stress causes havoc to many peoples bodies. It accelerates ageing, causes weight gain and just makes life less enjoyable. It’s easy to just say reduce stress but 95% of people are not in a position to eliminate stress causing factors instead it’s best to just manage them.
Meditate: We cause stress so we can reduce it, meditating is a good way to put things in perspective and take a step back from your day to day worries. We recommend this The Joy of Meditating: A Beginner’s Guide to the Art of Meditation
Commit free time to charity work: The chances are the things you get stressed over are the things some people dream about. There are many more people worse off than you as you’re able to read this on a computer/tablet or phone which billions of people have no access to. Charity work is enlightening and a great way to change your outlook and reduce stress levels.
Massage/Reflexology: Nothing beats a candlelit massage to get the stresses of the work week out of the way. If you have a partner then this is free if you’re single then you’re going to have a small expense. Reflexology is a way of applying pressure to affect organs and feelings. Complete Reflexology for Life is a book we’d recommend for getting started.
Personally I love exercise as I can channel emotions through it. Going out for a run in the pouring rain when you’re frustrated is a test of character, but the reward when you’ve put yourself through hell is amazing, nothing beats a shot of endorphines. Weights especially trigger hormone production in particular testosterone in men and estrogen in women, higher estrogen levels means more fat is burnt.
Mix low intensity cardio, high intensity interval training and weight training to experience the best results.
9) Eat Fibrous Foods
Fibre ensure the bowls are healthy and you have regular movements. If you have a diet lacking in fibre you are at risk of reabsorbing some dangerous chemicals such as preservatives and pesticides.
10) Balance Your Diet
Your diet plays a huge part in your all round health and having a good balance well balances hormones, if you’re diet is protein, carbohydrate or fat weighted then consider a 40:40:20 mix of carbohydrate:protein:fat mix and eat varied meals and you’ll be eating enough natural vitamins and minerals to reverse hormone imbalance in no time!
1) Patrick RP, Ames BN. Vitamin D hormone regulates serotonin synthesis. Part 1: relevance for autism. FASEB J. 2014
2) Abbasi B1, Kimiagar M, Sadeghniiat K, Shirazi MM, Hedayati M, Rashidkhani B. The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Res Med Sci. 2012, 1161-9.
3) Human adrenal glands secrete vitamin C in response to adrenocorticotrophic hormone. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 145-149