A Healthy Lifestyle Starts With Balancing Your Hormones
Feeling off or out of whack? Chalk it up to hormones out of balance, which can be caused by everything from poor diet, stress, lack of sleep, or a sedentary lifestyle.
Our bodies produce over 60 kinds of hormones, all of which have a specific function. If you want better health and well-being, figure out what aspect of your lifestyle, and its corresponding hormones, are unbalanced.
Only then can you take the necessary steps to get them back in check so you can feel normal once again.
Your diet is the single most important factor influencing your hormones. Sugar, simple carbohydrates and processed foods cause blood glucose levels to spike, throwing off the body’s production of insulin.
Produced in the pancreas, insulin is a hormone that normally allows your body to process sugar into energy. Too much sugar can cause insulin resistance, which may lead to acne breakouts or even diseases such as type 2 diabetes or even .
While the symptoms commonly associated with diabetes are those triggered by high blood sugar, low blood sugar can be a problem as well. Also called hypoglycemia, low blood sugar can cause mood swings, night sweats and heart problems.
Eating a balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, low fat cuts of meat and whole grains will keep your blood sugar from spiking too high or low. It’s also essential to consume enough calories based on your daily physical activity so your body metabolizes food efficiently.
Otherwise you can develop nutritional deficiencies, further putting your hormones out of balance.
Stress is not just a feeling, it’s a state of arousal that if not kept in check can negatively affect your hormones. Normally, stress occurs when you feel overwhelmed or find yourself in a threatening scenario.
These days, however, our bodies are consistently overrun by stress due to lifestyles where we overwork and get minimal relaxation.
When the body is stressed, it produces elevated amounts of the hormones cortisol and adrenaline, which, upon building up within the bloodstream, can wreak havoc on the immune system and mental functioning. Cortisol also increases glucose in the bloodstream, affecting insulin production and blood sugar levels.
Chronic stress can even impact your sex hormones, namely estrogen and progesterone. Too much cortisol in the body shuts down the body’s normal production of these hormones, leading to irregular periods and decreased sex drive.
Stress management and daily relaxation techniques should be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle in order to regulate hormones. Don’t overload yourself during the day and slow down your pace at night.
Too much nighttime stress can impact sleep, causing insomnia, which can cause a vicious circle of hormonal imbalance.
Constant late nights and lack of sleep will eventually catch up with you, throwing off hormones until you get decent rest. Just like stress, not sleeping raises cortisol levels, affecting your blood sugar.
When combined with a poor diet, insomnia can also make the body more susceptible to diabetes, metabolic syndrome and high blood pressure.
The fatigue you feel after a poor night’s sleep may not just be from insomnia itself, it can also be a symptom of adrenal fatigue. Adrenaline is released under stress whether physical, emotional, or from not sleeping.
Constant insomnia causes an overproduction of adrenaline, which both keeps you awake and wears you out, creating a vicious cycle of exhaustion.
If you constantly feel tired, take a short nap during the day, get some sun, or try and get to bed earlier. Avoid caffeine, which only aggravates the problem; drink herbal teas instead.
Try your best to unwind before bedtime, turning off electronics and dimming the lights in your home, which will signal to your body that it’s time to sleep.
A Sedentary Lifestyle
If you find that your sex drive has decreased dramatically, ask yourself when the last time you exercised was. Regular exercise, especially that of the cardio variety, causes the body to release endorphin.
Also known as the ‘feel good factor,’ endorphin is the hormone responsible for activating the pleasure sensors in the brain.
Cardio and aerobic exercise also influence the ‘hunger hormone,’ ghrelin. With adequate exercise, you’ll feel fuller longer and less hungry, even after a long workout.
Couch potato behavior causes ghrelin to increase, which will only cause hunger to increase along with the size of your pants.
Exercise also regulates blood sugar, burning off excess energy consumed from food. When you remain sedentary, the body instead turns unused calories into fat.
Even just walking around the block a few times, doing yoga, or riding a bike will greatly enhance your hormonal balance, preventing mood swings and fatigue.
activebeat (6 Innocent Habits That Negatively Affect Hormone Levels)
Trinity Women’s Health (How Lifestyle Habits Impact Hormone Balancing)
ABC News (9 Habits That Mess With Your Hormones)