There are hundreds of hormones circulating in our body as we speak, doing different jobs essential for our survival and wellbeing and, as usual, their balance is key to maintaining physical and mental health.
Every activity in our body is controlled by hormones, they impact your sex drive, growth, looks, digestion… you name it! They`re responsible for your weight, mood and concentration. So, you think these aches and pains come from normal aging? Think again. It may just be that your hormones have taken over.
Hormones are chemical messengers that travel through our blood, sending messages to our brain, tissues and organs. Their job is subtle, but their effect is strong and can be seen in many ways.
Hormonal balance is a reflection of your lifestyle and way of eating. Nutrition is at the core of hormonal response; just think of sugars and insulin response. When our body suffers constant aggression from anti nutritional elements, it loses its capacity to maintain hormonal equilibrium. These hormonal imbalances are signals for the brain related to cravings -especially sugar cravings, that can result in constant tiredness, poor sex drive and lack of concentration; just to mention a few.
Take adrenal fatigue, for example, which is either too much cortisol or too little circulating, causing the exhaustion of the adrenal glands. Cortisol, the famous stress hormone, deals with stress by shutting down functions that are not “necessary”, like reproduction (PCOS, testosterone levels) and immune system. It is also associated with fatigue, loss of muscle, weight gain (especially belly fat) and even infertility! Adrenal fatigue can dampen thyroid function, further deepening hormonal imbalances.
So those pesky cravings and that lack of motivation (exercise anyone?) could have its roots in something more deep and powerful, like a hormonal imbalance. Have you been thinking all along that you don´t have will power? How hard have you hit yourself with guilty thoughts? Think again. When willpower is faced with the imminent power of hormones, it will most likely lose the fight. Have you ever tried being awake for 3 days straight? Once hormones kick in, will-power shuts down.
An anti-nutrition way of life that includes processed foods, living a stressful lifestyle and chronic dieting, depletes essential biological compounds, including vitamins, minerals, and nutraceuticals. You might as well be in a survival state, far from optimal. If it feels like your body is working against you, it is very much possible that it is starving for nutrition! The good news is that we can use the power of nutrients from foods and supplements to adjust your hormones. Nutrition is the pre-requisite to fight off “hormonal kidnapping”.
Here are some actions to get started:
- Choose good, whole, clean food over processed food.
- Plan meals and snacks for every 4 hours. If hungry, you´ll be able to resist packaged stuff (sorry, I just can´t call it food).
- Include protein in every meal. VITALEPH protein shakes have been engineered to improve nutritional status. Don´t skip a meal, replace it! Our protein shakes help reduce saturated fat and cholesterol intake from meats and dairy products, and help meet protein requirements with the added value of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and other nutritional elements.
- Take probiotics, gut function is related to about 70% of your immune response.
- Avoid sugars. Sugars -including alcohol, feed bad bacteria and fungus like candida, that nasty yeast that makes you crave for sugar and produces infections. There is no doubt, something inside you CAN and WILL make you eat to feed itself! Again, probiotics have the ability to fight this off, as long as you stay away from sugars.
- Sleep 8 hours between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
- Reduce stress. Think of the tree outside your house. Damaged branches and dead leaves pull nutrients from its other healthier parts, this prevents them from flourishing, so these need to be pruned from time to time. Your body, in the same way, needs to be pruned from those activities that are overstressing and negligent to your health. Some activities have to be cut out! Only then, you´ll be able to use nutrients more efficiently, and at the same time stimulate healing and make you feel energized.
- Increase daily physical activities and exercise on a daily basis. Slowly but surely.
Next time you eat, remember that everything that passes through your mouth has an impact in your body. Choose foods that provide a benefit. Rather than quantity, choose quality.
To a long, productive, healthy and happy life.
Lucía Chávez, Nutritionist
Bennington, V. (2015). The Ups and Downs of Cortisol: What You Need to Know. Breaking Muscle. Retrieved 19 March 2015, from http://breakingmuscle.com/health-medicine/the-ups-and-downs-of-cortisol-what-you-need-to-know
Better Health Channel,. (2015). Thyroid gland - Better Health Channel. Retrieved 19 March 2015, from http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/thyroid_gland_explained
Cancercenter.com,. (2013). How to eat for hormonal balance: Nutrition tips for every woman | CTCA. Retrieved 19 March 2015, from http://www.cancercenter.com/discussions/blog/how-to-eat-for-hormonal-balance/