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Ways to balance hormones 12 natural ways to balance your hormones

Your hormones underlie many basic processes in your body. This article looks at 12 things you can do to help your hormones function optimally.

Hormones have a profound effect on your mental, physical and emotional health.

These chemical messengers play an important role in controlling your appetite, weight, and mood, among other things.


Normally, endocrine glands produce the exact amount of each hormone needed for different processes in your body.


However, hormonal imbalances are becoming more common in today's fast-paced modern lifestyle. Also, certain hormones decline with age, and some people experience a more dramatic decline than others.


Fortunately, a nutritious diet and other healthy lifestyle choices can help improve your hormonal health and allow you to feel and perform at your best.


This article will show you 12 natural ways to balance your hormones.


Healthy Woman
Healthy woman

1. Eat enough protein at every meal

It is extremely important to consume enough protein. Dietary protein provides essential amino acids that your body cannot produce on its own and must be consumed daily to maintain healthy muscles, bones, and skin.


In addition, protein affects the release of hormones that control appetite and food intake. Studies have shown that consuming protein reduces levels of the “hunger hormone” ghrelin and stimulates the production of hormones that help you feel full, including PYY and GLP-1.


In one study, men produced 20% more GLP-1 and 14% more PYY after a high-protein meal than after a meal containing a normal amount of protein. What's more, participants' hunger levels decreased 25% more after eating a high-protein meal compared to a normal-protein meal.


In another study, women who ate a diet containing 30% protein experienced an increase in GLP-1 and more satiety than when they ate a diet containing 10% protein.

Moreover, they experienced increased metabolism and fat burning.

To optimize hormonal health, experts recommend consuming a minimum of 20-30 grams of protein per meal.


This is easy to do by including a portion of these high-protein foods at every meal.

Eating enough protein triggers the production of hormones that suppress appetite and help you feel full. Aim for a minimum of 20-30 grams of protein per meal.

2. Exercise regularly

Physical activity can have a profound effect on hormonal health. The main benefit of exercise is its ability to lower insulin levels and increase insulin sensitivity.

Insulin is a hormone that performs several functions. One allows cells to absorb sugar and amino acids from the bloodstream, which are then used for energy and muscle maintenance.


However, a small amount of insulin makes a big difference. Too much can be downright dangerous. High insulin levels have been linked to inflammation, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. What's more, they're linked to insulin resistance, a condition in which your cells don't respond properly to insulin signals.Many types of physical activity have been found to increase insulin sensitivity and decrease insulin levels, including aerobic exercise, strength training, and endurance exercise.


In a 24-week study of obese women, exercise increased participants' insulin sensitivity and levels of adiponectin, a hormone that has anti-inflammatory effects and helps regulate metabolism.Physical activity can also help increase levels of muscle-supporting hormones that decline with age, such as testosterone, IGF-1, DHEA, and growth hormone.


For people who can't do vigorous exercise, even regular walking can increase these hormones, potentially improving strength and quality of life.Although a combination of strength and aerobic training seems to produce the best results, regular exercise of any kind is beneficial.

Doing strength training, aerobics, walking, or other types of physical activity can alter hormone levels in ways that reduce the risk of disease and protect muscle mass during the aging process.

3. Avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates

Sugar and refined carbohydrates are linked to many health problems.

Indeed, avoiding or minimizing these foods can be beneficial for optimizing hormonal function and avoiding obesity, diabetes, and other diseases.


Studies consistently show that fructose can raise insulin levels and contribute to insulin resistance, especially in overweight and obese people with prediabetes or diabetes.

Importantly, fructose makes up at least half of most sugars. These include natural forms such as honey and maple syrup, in addition to high fructose corn syrup and refined table sugar.


In one study, people with prediabetes experienced similar increases in insulin levels and insulin resistance whether they consumed 1.8 ounces (50 grams) of honey, sugar, or high-fructose corn syrup.


In addition, diets high in refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pretzels, may contribute to insulin resistance in a large proportion of adults and adolescents.

In contrast, following a low- to moderate-carbohydrate, whole-food diet can lower insulin levels in overweight and obese people with prediabetes and other insulin-resistant conditions, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Diets high in sugar and refined carbohydrates have been shown to contribute to insulin resistance. Avoiding these foods and reducing total carbohydrate intake can lower insulin levels and increase insulin sensitivity.

4. Learn to manage stress

Stress can wreak havoc on your hormones. The two main hormones that are affected by stress are cortisol and epinephrine, also called epinephrine.

Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone” because it helps your body deal with stress over long periods of time. Adrenaline is the fight-or-flight hormone that provides your body with a surge of energy to respond to immediate danger.


However, unlike hundreds of years ago when these hormones were mainly triggered by threats from predators, today they are usually triggered by the busy, often overworked lifestyles of humans. Unfortunately, chronic stress causes cortisol levels to remain elevated, which can lead to excess caloric intake and obesity, including increased belly fat.


Elevated levels of adrenaline can cause high blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, and anxiety. However, these symptoms are usually quite short-lived because, unlike cortisol, adrenaline is less likely to rise chronically.


Research has shown that you can lower your cortisol levels by using stress-reducing techniques such as meditation, yoga, massage, and listening to relaxing music.

A 2005 review of research found that massage not only reduced cortisol levels by an average of 31%, but also increased levels of the mood-enhancing hormone serotonin by 28% and dopamine by an average of 31%. Try to spend at least 10-15 minutes a day doing stress-relieving activities, even if you don't feel like you have time.

Engaging in stress-reducing behaviors such as meditation, yoga, massage, and listening to soothing music can help normalize levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

5. Eat healthy fats

Including high-quality natural fats in your diet can help reduce insulin resistance and appetite. Medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) are unique fats that are absorbed directly by the liver for immediate use as energy. They have been shown to reduce insulin resistance in overweight and obese people, as well as in people with diabetes. MCTs are found in coconut, palm, and pure MCT oil.


Dairy fat and monounsaturated fat in olive oil and nuts also increase insulin sensitivity, according to studies in healthy adults and those with diabetes, prediabetes, fatty liver, and elevated triglycerides.


In addition, studies have shown that consuming healthy fat with meals triggers the release of hormones that help you feel full and satisfied, including GLP-1, PYY, and cholecystokinin (CCK). On the other hand, trans fats have been found to contribute to insulin resistance and increase belly fat accumulation. To optimize hormonal health, eat a healthy source of fat with every meal.

Including healthy natural fats in your diet and avoiding harmful trans fats can help reduce insulin resistance and stimulate the production of hormones that help control appetite.

6. Avoid eating too much or too little

Eating too much or too little can cause hormonal shifts that lead to weight problems.

Overeating has been shown to increase insulin levels and decrease insulin sensitivity, especially in overweight and obese people who have insulin resistance. In one study, insulin-resistant obese adults who ate a 1,300-calorie meal experienced nearly twice the increase in insulin compared to lean and "metabolically healthy" obese individuals who ate identical meals. On the other hand, cutting calories too much can increase levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which is known to promote weight gain when elevated.


One study found that restricting food intake to less than 1,200 calories per day increased cortisol levels. Interestingly, a 1996 study even suggested that very low-calorie diets could potentially cause insulin resistance in some people, an effect that can be expected in people with diabetes. Eating within your calorie range can help you maintain hormonal balance and a healthy weight.

Eating too many or too few calories can lead to hormonal imbalances. Aim for at least 1,200 calories per day for optimal health.

7. Drink green tea

Green tea is one of the healthiest drinks. In addition to the metabolism-boosting caffeine, it contains an antioxidant known as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which is credited with several health benefits. Research shows that green tea consumption can improve insulin sensitivity and lower insulin levels in both healthy people and people with insulin-resistant conditions such as obesity and diabetes.


In one detailed analysis of 17 studies, the highest-quality studies linked green tea to a significant reduction in fasting insulin levels. Several controlled studies have shown that green tea does not appear to reduce insulin resistance or insulin levels compared to a placebo. However, these results may have been due to individual responses.

Since green tea has other health benefits and most studies show that it can improve insulin response, you may want to consider drinking one to three cups a day.

Green tea has been linked to increased insulin sensitivity and decreased insulin levels in people who are overweight, obese, or diabetic.

8. Eat fatty fish often

Oily fish is the best source of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, which have impressive anti-inflammatory properties. Research shows they may also have beneficial effects on hormonal health, including lowering levels of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. A small study looked at the effect of omega-3 fat intake on men's performance on a mental stress test.


The study found that after men consumed a diet rich in omega-3 fats for three weeks, they experienced significantly less increases in cortisol and adrenaline during the test than when they ate a normal diet. In addition, some studies have shown that increasing the intake of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids can reduce insulin resistance associated with obesity, polycystic ovary syndrome, and gestational diabetes.


Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy in women who did not have diabetes before pregnancy. Like type 2 diabetes, it is characterized by insulin resistance and high blood sugar. In one study, women with gestational diabetes took 1,000 mg of omega-3 fatty acids daily for six weeks.


The omega-3 group had significant reductions in insulin levels, insulin resistance, and the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein (CRP) compared to women who received a placebo. For optimal health, include two or more servings per week of fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel.

Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids can help lower cortisol and adrenaline levels, improve insulin sensitivity, and lower insulin levels in obese and insulin-resistant individuals.

9. Get consistent, quality sleep

No matter how nutritious your diet is or how much exercise you don't get, your health will suffer if you don't get enough restorative sleep. Poor sleep has been linked to imbalances in many hormones, including insulin, cortisol, leptin, ghrelin, and growth hormone.


In one study of men whose sleep was restricted to five hours a night for one week, insulin sensitivity decreased by an average of 20%. Another study looked at the effects of sleep restriction on healthy young men. When their sleep was restricted for two days, leptin levels decreased by 18%, ghrelin increased by 28%, and hunger by 24%. In addition, men craved high-calorie, high-carbohydrate foods.


Also, it's not just the amount of sleep you get that matters. The quality of sleep is also important. Your brain needs uninterrupted sleep that allows it to go through all five stages of each sleep cycle. This is especially important for the release of growth hormone, which occurs mainly at night during deep sleep. To maintain optimal hormonal balance, try to sleep at least seven hours a day.

Insufficient or poor sleep has been shown to decrease satiety hormones, increase hunger and stress hormones, decrease growth hormone levels, and increase insulin resistance.

10. Stay away from sugary drinks

Sugar in any form is harmful to health. However, liquid sugars are the worst.

Research shows that high sugary drinks can contribute to insulin resistance, especially in overweight and obese adults and children.


In one study, when overweight people consumed 25% of their calories in the form of high-fructose beverages, they experienced increased blood insulin levels, decreased insulin sensitivity, and increased belly fat accumulation.


In addition, studies have shown that drinking sugary drinks leads to excessive calorie consumption because it does not trigger the same satiety signals as eating solid food.

Cutting out sugary drinks may be one of the best things you can do to improve your hormone balance.

High consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages has been consistently associated with elevated insulin levels and insulin resistance in overweight and obese adults and children.

11. Eat a high-fiber diet

Fiber, especially soluble, is an important component of a healthy diet.

Studies have shown that it increases insulin sensitivity and stimulates the production of hormones that make you feel full and satisfied. Although soluble fiber tends to have the strongest effect on appetite and eating, insoluble fiber can also play a role.


One study in overweight and obese people found that consuming a type of soluble fiber called oligofructose increased PYY, while consuming insoluble fiber tended to increase GLP-1. Both types of fiber caused a decrease in appetite. To protect against insulin resistance and overeating, make sure you eat foods rich in fiber every day.

High fiber intake is associated with improved insulin sensitivity and the hormones that control hunger, satiety and food intake.

12. Eat more eggs

Eggs are one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. They have been shown to have beneficial effects on hormones that regulate food intake, including decreased insulin and ghrelin levels and increased PYY.


In one study, men had lower ghrelin and insulin levels after eating eggs for breakfast than after eating a bagel for breakfast.

What's more, they felt fuller and ate fewer calories during the next 24 hours after eating the eggs. Importantly, this positive effect on hormones seems to occur when people eat both the yolk and the egg white.


For example, another study found that eating whole eggs as part of a low-carb diet increased insulin sensitivity and improved several markers of heart health more than a low-carb diet that only included egg whites. Most studies have looked at the effects of eating eggs at breakfast, because that's what people usually eat. However, these sources of nutrition can be eaten with any meal, and hard-boiled eggs make a great portable snack.

Eggs are extremely nutritious and can help reduce insulin resistance, suppress appetite and make you feel full.

Summary

Your hormones are involved in all aspects of your health. They are needed in very specific amounts for your body to function optimally.

Hormonal imbalances can increase your risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other health problems.


Even though age and other factors are beyond your control, there are many steps you can take to help your hormones function optimally.


Eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and other healthy behaviors can greatly improve hormonal health.



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