When we think about our overall health and wellness, we often focus on diet, exercise, stress levels and sleep and our hormone health doesn’t get a second thought. But our hormones play a critical role in our how we feel and how our body functions. When our hormones are out of balance or factors interfere with signalling pathways - it can lead to weight loss or gain or health problems such as diabetes.
What are Hormones?
Hormones act as powerful chemical messengers within your body. They are produced in your endocrine system and circulate throughout your body to your tissues and organs, controlling various functions such as your body’s metabolism (homeostasis), appetite, energy level, reproduction, growth, and overall mood. They also help with your body’s response to stress, injuries and environmental factors.
Hormones have two fundamental communication roles. The first being to communicate between two endocrine glands, where one gland releases a hormone which stimulates another target gland to change the levels of hormones that it is releasing. The second is between an endocrine gland and a target organ, for example when the pancreas releases insulin which causes muscle and fat cells to take up glucose from the bloodstream.
Hormone balance is critical to your overall health and wellness as if your body is producing and over supply or under supply of a particular hormone, it can have a huge impact including serious health problems.
Our body contains dozens of different hormones, here are a few examples of hormones and their role in the workings of the endocrine system:
- Insulin (the fat-storage hormone) is released by your pancreas and regulates many metabolic processes including the functioning of your organs, liver, and fat to absorb glucose. If your body doesn’t generate enough insulin, blood sugar accumulates and can result in diabetes.
- Aldosterone is produced in the adrenal glands and helps to regulate salt, water balance and blood pressure
- Corticosteroid is also produced in the adrenal glands and acts as an anti-inflammatory; maintains blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and muscle strength; regulates salt and water balance
- Growth hormone (GH) is produced in the pituitary gland and controls growth and development; stimulates protein production and affects fat distribution
- Melatonin (the pineal gland in your brain) produces melatonin, which controls sleep/wake cycles and your internal body clock.
- Cortisol (the stress hormone) is an alert system to let you know when you’re under threat. High cortisol levels can lead to anxiety, weight gain, migraines, skin problems, irritability and sleep disturbances.
How Your Diet can Impact your Hormones
Maintaining a healthy daily diet can help keep hormone levels stable. Foods such as olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds, fibre from fruits and vegetables and quality proteins such as eggs, fish and meat, have a positive impact on our hormones.
Processed foods, fried foods, alcohol, sugar and artificial sweeteners can all have a negative impact on your hormones and lead to issues with blood sugar levels, estrogen metabolism and may other serious health conditions.
What about “hormone diets”
There are an increasing number of programs that claim you can adjust your hormones with a diet to lose weight quickly and easily. According to many of these programs, you can control your metabolism. They claim that all you need to do is eat the right foods and take the right supplements, and you’ll unlock the secret. Many of them claim to help you lose weight quickly by affecting hormones such as insulin, which moves sugar from your blood into your cells; cortisol, the “stress hormone”; sex hormones such as testosterone and estrogen; and thyroid hormones.
Whilst there is a lack of medical understanding on the interactions between diet, hormones and weight loss to adjust them to promote rapid weight loss, it is well known that certain ways of eating help keep our hormones in balance, which may support our weight-loss efforts.
To Promote Hormonal Balance
To promote hormonal balance, it is sensible to:
Maintain a healthy weight
Regular exercise and balancing this with the level of calories you consume, helps to balance levels of several hormones.
Eat a nutritious diet
Choose high quality minimally processed foods. Diets that are high in fibre, vitamins and minerals, and phytochemicals promote healthy hormone levels
Drinking plenty of water
If you need help with your hormone health, Kiri is here to help. Kiri launched the AMPERNA® Holistic Skin Coaching Service several years ago the service gives you the opportunity to discuss topics such as general health and wellbeing including hormone health. If you want to find out more on how you can use a holistic approach to your diet, get in touch with Kiri today.