April 21, 2018

Happy Hormone Guide

By Layla, MISSION’s Health, Wellness and Nutrition Intern

Hormones… we hear about them, we know about them, we love them, we hate them. When our hormones are happy, we are happy, but when they get out of whack, they have the ability to bring down virtually everything – like our mental, emotional and physical functions. Keeping our hormones happy and balanced can lead to a boost in mood, energy, focus, sexual function, and improve physical attributes like your skin and hair.

Hormones tell your body how to function and when to function – like when to store your food as fat and when to use it as energy. Many hormones are interrelated, so if one is off, it can throw others out of whack. Even those that do not affect other hormones directly can make changes in your body such as body composition or blood sugar, and that over time… influences other hormones.

Hormones play a key role in brain function as they can control your ability to feel happy versus feeling irritable, and the ability to stay focused at work or doze off at your desk. If you are ever feeling down, yet not really sure what could be the cause, it is possible that your hormones are not functioning to their peak. It gets complicated, but there are ways to manipulate our bodies to get our hormones on track.

One of this most important influencers on hormone balance is sleep. Getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night is VITAL. This correlates to your major stress hormone, cortisol. Not getting enough sleep raises cortisol levels. Cortisol has a plethora of roles in the body, many of which relate to metabolism. This means if you aren’t catching enough Z’s, this stress hormone can throw off your blood sugar, which can lead to your body storing more of your food as fat.

Another common cause of hormonal imbalances is inflammation. Inflammation results from stressors that effect the functioning and utilization of many vitamins and minerals. Lucky for us, combating inflammation is a function of many different foods.

Some of the most popular anti-inflammatory agents are turmeric, ginger, and lemon. Ginger and lemon play a special role in the gut, while turmeric contains curcumin, which is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, especially when paired with black pepper for increased absorption. The Moondeli product Golden Turmeric, found at the Nourish cafe, is a great anti-inflammatory by the way! If you want to make a Tumeric Latte at home, just follow this simple recipe:

1.5 cups of coconut milk
1 tsp of turmeric
1/2 tsp of cinnamon
1/2 tsp of ginger
1/8 tsp of black pepper
1 tsp of honey

Combine and blend all ingredients in a blender and warm it up on the stove top.

Another key factor in reducing inflammation is gut health. Probiotics and fermented foods up the good bacteria in your large intestine and help reduce stress on your digestive system lining. A happy gut has been shown to have links to positive hormone function.

Refined carbohydrates also play a huge role in hormones. This is due to the high-glycemic index associated with sugar. This means that foods such as breads, cereals, pasta, and snack foods like chips, cookies, and desserts all cause a spike in your blood sugar. This spike creates a surge in hormones and when a very constant occurrence, can upset the balance of things. Opting for whole grains/sprouted grains, fruits and vegetables, and sweet potato or legumes can help reduce that spike while still getting your daily dose of carbohydrates in.

If you love avocado toast, you’ll be happy to hear avocados are known to be a huge influencer on helping hormone balance. They are packed with vitamins and minerals that all help metabolism, and they offer a large amount of antioxidants, healthy fat, and contain plant sterol, which has been shown to have beneficial effects on hormones. Guys, get your Avocado Toast at Nourish!

If you ever feel intense mood swings, fatigue, have suffered from abnormal weight gain, trouble focusing, or digestive issues that you cannot seem to find the cause of, it is possible that the cause is a hormone imbalance. There are tests out there that can help, but try starting out with making some small changes in your diet with potentially great results.

Content of the blog is opinion and not to be considered scientific fact. All readers should consult a medical professional for questions concerning individual medical and dietary needs.