Your endocrine glands naturally produce the right amount of each hormone for your body, but various factors, such as genetics, weight, diet, stress levels, food allergies and gut issues, can cause hormonal imbalances. Having too little or too much of any hormone can throw your body off. Whenever your hormones are out of whack, your body experiences a range of health issues, such as fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, depression, mood swings, weight loss, weight gain, infertility, appetite changes or blood sugar issues.
If you have a feeling your hormones are out of sorts, follow these natural and foolproof lifestyle behaviors to bring your hormones back to a state of equilibrium.
Pack on the protein
Protein is an essential nutrient that your body needs to function properly. Protein-rich foods contain amino acids that your muscles, bones and skin rely on to maintain optimal health. When you eat enough protein, your body releases hormones that suppress your appetite, control food intake, increase satiety, boost your metabolism and burn fat. A diet rich in protein decreases ghrelin, which regulates your hunger, so you’ll be less likely to reach for seconds. Incorporate a variety of high-protein foods into your diet, such as chicken, fish, eggs, yogurt, lentils, legumes and whole grains, and aim for about 20 to 30 grams of protein at every meal. The minimum daily requirement of protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight, which means at least 46 grams of protein for women and 56 grams for men.
Limit sugar and refined carbs
They certainly taste delicious, but sugar and refined carbs spike your blood sugar and insulin levels. Insulin is a hormone that regulates the amount of glucose in your blood, so high levels of insulin can lead to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Fructose found in natural forms of sugar, high-fructose corn syrup and refined table sugar along with refined carbs, such as white bread, pasta and pretzels, elevate insulin levels and belly fat. Instead of grabbing a cookie to tide you over or serving yourself a large bowl of tortellini for dinner, opt for whole wheat breads and pastas, which will stabilize your blood sugar.
Consume lots of healthy fats
The name says otherwise, but fats do not make you gain weight or store excess body fat. They actually do quite the opposite. Healthy fats, like monounsaturated fats found in olive oil and MCTs found in coconut oil, control your insulin response and the hormones that regulate your appetite, so consuming healthy fats makes you feel more satisfied and less likely to overeat. Healthy fats also keep your inflammation levels down, boost your metabolism and promote weight loss. Make sure to add avocado, grass-fed butter, chia seeds, flax seeds, salmon or nuts to your meals, and limit trans fats found in fried foods, chips and cookies as much as possible.
Find your calorie sweet spot
Eating more or less than your body requires for fuel causes hormonal shifts, so it’s important to honor your maintenance calories. Overeating not only packs on the pounds, but it also increases insulin levels and weakens insulin sensitivity. When you don’t eat enough for your body’s daily caloric needs, your body produces excess cortisol, the hormone that monitors your stress levels. Chronic stress leads to weight gain, so eating too little can sabotage your weight loss goals.
Find your physical
Incorporating more movement into your daily routine is not only a fun way to break up a monotonous work day, but it’s also a way to keep your hormones healthy, happy and balanced. A combination of aerobic exercise and resistance training decreases insulin levels, speeds up your metabolism, combats inflammation, produces muscle-building testosterone, keeps cortisol levels down and generates appetite-suppressing ghrelin. Additionally, moving your body plays a role in improving your mood since it releases dopamine and serotonin. Completing one of Tracy Anderson’s dance cardio classes is an excellent way to tone your muscles, get your heart pumping and sweat out any negative emotions that bring you down.
Manage your stress levels
Hundreds of years ago, our ancestors relied on certain hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline, to escape from predators. In our modern society, it’s highly unlikely any of us spend a majority of our days running away from lions, tigers and bears (oh my!), so traffic jams and tight deadlines tend to trigger these responses. Daily stressors aren’t usually life-threatening, but our bodies produce cortisol and adrenaline to respond to the stressors. When your stress levels are constantly high, it contributes to weight gain, belly fat, obesity, anxiety, mood swings and cardiovascular issues. Filling your daily schedule with relaxing activities is necessary for your hormones’ health. Meditation, deep breathing, journaling, playing soothing music or connecting with a loved one are surefire ways to access your inner calm in the midst of hectic schedules.
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