The human body secretes around 50 different hormones throughout the body; all of which play a vital role in keeping our bodies functioning how they should. From regulating temperature to influencing our sex drive; these chemical messengers produced by our endocrine glands influence nearly every aspect of our bodies which is why when levels start to shift - our mental, physical and emotional health can be affected.
There are certain factors surrounding our hormones and our hormone production that are simply beyond our control such as age and certain health conditions. However, put simply, our hormones are pretty delicate and there are a handful of lifestyle factors that can cause hormonal imbalances; according to the National Library of Medicine, even food can affect the production and secretion of hormones.
Still, these lifestyle factors can be managed and there are a handful of steps you can follow to help promote hormonal balance and balance hormones naturally, including:
- Follow a balanced diet and healthy diet
- Get adequate sleep
- Exercise regularly
- Manage stress levels
How to balance hormones
Outside of the factors that are beyond our control, the steps that you can follow to promote hormonal balance are also steps you can take to promote overall good health - a win/win situation if we’ve ever seen one!
Follow a balanced and healthy diet
So, a balanced diet = balanced hormones? Well, it’s not as simple as that - but a diet rich in certain vitamins and minerals has the potential to promote positive hormone levels and support your endocrine system ; think vitamin C, vitamin D, magnesium (which improves insulin sensitivity), vitamin B6, zinc, and healthy fats.
As a general rule, try following a typically healthy and balanced diet; this means keeping processed foods and refined sugars to a minimum and focusing on enjoying lean proteins, dark leafy greens, and healthy whole grains.
See also: What Are The Functions Of Vitamins?
Get adequate sleep
If you’re not getting enough quality sleep, your body’s ability to regulate stress hormones, such as cortisol, can be affected, which can lead to high blood pressure. Good quality sleep is also crucial in maintaining healthy levels of hormones that control appetite and glucose levels with studies showing that cutting back on sleep can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity .
According to Mayo Clinic, 7-9 hours of sleep is the recommended amount for an adult. Of course, this can differ depending on circumstances such as pregnancy, age, and sleep quality.
Exercise on a regular basis
Adequate exercise is one of the best health investments you can make. Exercise releases feel-good hormones such as dopamine and stimulates the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin, a chemical that is often targeted by antidepressants in the form of SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) .
Try to find an exercise regime that suits your needs and gets you excited about keeping active; a combination of strength training and cardio exercise throughout the week can bring with it a whole host of benefits, including boosting your hormone levels!
Manage stress levels
Whether your work day has been busier than usual or that college assignment isn’t working out the way you imagined - everyday stresses can wreak havoc on your mind, body and hormone levels.
The two major hormones affected by stress include adrenaline and cortisol (aptly known as the stress hormone) and chronic stress has the potential to keep cortisol levels elevated which can put you at risk of anxiety, digestive problems and heart disease .
What are the symptoms of hormonal imbalance?
Hormone imbalances means that you either have too much or too little of a certain hormone. While a natural change in hormone levels is common during puberty, menstruation, and pregnancy, an imbalance can also occur as a result of a medical condition such as an underactive or overactive thyroid, Cushing’s syndrome, or Addison’s disease.
Some of the most common symptoms to know include:
- Unexplained weight gain or weight loss
- Muscle weakness
- Pain, stiffness, or swelling in the joints
- Muscle aches
- Decreased sex drive
If you are experiencing symptoms of hormonal imbalances, it’s important to reach out to your doctor for further information.
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