Your hormones are like messengers that travel through your bloodstream and carry information to specific parts of your body. Your hormones regulate everything from your hunger to the amount of fat your body stores. You have more than 200 hormones in your body that help you maintain optimal health. (1)
If your hormones fall out of balance, your overall health may be impacted. Balancing your hormones becomes more difficult as you age. Poor lifestyle habits and a poor diet are common causes of suboptimal hormone function in young adults.
These nine healthy habits have the potential to naturally balance your hormones and allow you to be your healthiest self.
1. Avoid High-Sugar Foods
When you eat foods high in refined sugar, your pancreas produces the hormone insulin to rapidly lower your blood sugar. If your insulin levels remain chronically elevated, it may affect optimal blood pressure levels and inflammatory reactions, as well as your body's endocrine, cardiovascular and liver function. (2)
Solution: Look for ways to replace high-sugar foods in your diet with lower sugar alternatives. For example, instead of drinking sugary fruit juice, try eating whole fruits instead.
2. Try to Get Adequate Sleep
Increasing the amount of sleep you get each night is one of the best ways to improve your health. It can be difficult to prioritize sleep when you already have a full schedule. However, spending more time in bed allows your body to better repair itself and gives your hormones time to reset.
Research has found that people who sleep less than seven hours per night are at an increased risk of being overweight. (3) It’s thought that sleep deprivation makes it more difficult for your body to regulate the hormones that control your appetite.
Solution: Try making sleep a priority. Aim to get an extra 15 minutes of sleep per night. If you’re able to hit your target for a week, try increasing your nightly rest by another 15 minutes.
3. Try Consuming Medium-Chain Triglycerides
When your hormones become unbalanced, it can cause you to crave sugary foods and feel hungrier than normal. Medium-chain triglycerides are a type of fat found in coconut, coconut oil, and butter. They have a different molecular structure than other types of fat, and your liver breaks them down soon after you eat them.
Research has found that consuming more medium-chain triglycerides may increase your leptin hormone levels. (4) Leptin is one of the primary hormones responsible for regulating your hunger levels. When leptin increases, your hunger decreases.
Solution: It’s not clear what the optimal dose of medium-chain triglycerides is, but many supplements suggest taking one to three tablespoons per day. Adding more coconut, butter, or medium-chain triglyceride supplement may help you better control your hunger.
4. Try to Add More Stress-Reducing Activities to Your Schedule
Stress can take many forms including mental stress, physical stress, or emotional stress. All types of stress have the potential to increase your body’s levels of the hormone cortisol. Chronically elevated cortisol levels are linked to many negative health effects including increased belly fat storage. (5)
Dedicating time each day to relaxing activities may help you reduce your cortisol levels and feelings of stress. One study published in 2013 found that listening to calming music has the potential to decrease physiological markers of stress. (6) Other relaxing activities like yoga and meditation may also help your body relax and reduce your stress levels
Solution: Try dedicating at least 15 minutes per day to rest and relaxation. Yoga, listening to calming music, and meditating are a few potential activities you can perform daily.
5. Increase Your Daily Exercise
When you exercise, you change your body’s hormone levels. Exercise stimulates your body’s release of hormones that are linked to increased muscle-building and fat loss like testosterone, human growth hormone, and insulin-like growth factor 1. (7)
Both weight training and aerobic exercise can potentially improve your hormone profile. The US Department of Health & Human Services recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. (8)
The following are examples of moderate-intensity exercise:
Solution: Regular exercise can help you increase muscle-building hormones and reduce hormones that lead to fat storage. Increasing your amount of physical activity can help you improve your body’s composition.
6. Get Adequate Protein
Dietary protein is more filling than carbohydrates. It’s also filled with 21 amino acids that act as the building blocks for all the tissues in your body. Your body also synthesizes a group of hormones called peptide hormones from protein.
Every diet has different recommendations on how much protein you should get. However, all health experts can agree that getting at least an adequate amount is important for maintaining healthy muscles and organs.
The DRI of protein is 0.36g per pound of bodyweight for men and women and active people may need even more.
Research has found that eating protein also has the potential to decrease your body’s production of ghrelin. (9) Ghrelin, along with leptin, is a hormone that controls your body’s appetite. Higher levels of ghrelin stimulate your appetite and lower levels of ghrelin decrease your appetite.
Solution: Aiming to include a protein source with each meal may help you increase feelings of fullness and decrease ghrelin hormone levels.
7. Avoid BPA
Bisphenol A (BPA) is a potentially dangerous chemical that can seep into your food from cans and plastics. BPA mimics estrogen in your body. It’s thought that consuming a lot of BPA can disrupt the balance of your sex hormones.
It’s not entirely clear how strong BPA’s effects on your health are. However, many health experts agree that it’s best to avoid BPA as much as you can, so it may be a good idea to minimize your consumption of canned foods and foods stored in plastic.
The following materials may have traces of BPA: (10)
Food and drink packages
Solution: Try eating more fresh foods and decreasing your intake of food stored in plastic or cans.
8. Get More Vitamin D
Your body can synthesize vitamin D when your skin comes in contact with sunlight. You can also get vitamin D from your diet in meats, fish, and eggs. It’s thought that nearly 42% of Americans are vitamin D deficient. (11)
Vitamin D acts as a hormone in your body that supports healthy joints and bones, as well as your blood calcium balance.
Solution: Try increasing your intake of fatty fish, meat, or eggs. If you live in a climate where you don’t get a lot of sunlight, also consider taking a vitamin D supplement.
9. Avoid Bright Lights at Night
Your hormones help regulate your body’s natural sleep-wake cycles, otherwise known as your circadian rhythm. Exposing yourself to bright lights before bed can make it more difficult to fall asleep by interfering with your body’s production of the hormone melatonin.
Research has found that computer and phone screens emit blue light that can also interfere with your body’s production of melatonin. (12) Historically, the sun was the only major source of blue light that humans were exposed to. However, these days many people stare at screens up until they go to bed.
Solution: Avoid exposing yourself to bright lights or screens an hour before bed. Many phones and laptops have a night shift mode that limits your exposure to blue light.
This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal physician. Readers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither the author(s) nor the publisher of this content take responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All readers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.
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