Get to know these five hormones that have such a huge impact on your lifestyle. Know them well and watch for symptoms as to whether your hormones are imbalanced.
This hormone has significant power! Your thyroid controls your metabolic rate (how you burn calories), hair, skin and mood. Even the slightest shift can take any person from happy, lively and energetic, to flat and exhausted. Monitoring thyroid levels a few times a year is worth the time and investment to find the right level.
What you eat can help to balance your thyroid, think:
- Brazil nuts: They are high in selenium.
- Red meat: It’s rich in iron so eat it a few times per week.
- Roasted seaweed (kelp or nori): Both are rich in iodine.
- Fresh eggs: They are great sources of iodine and vitamin D
It's crucial to maintain a balanced insulin level to prevent unwanted weight gain and that dreaded belly fat that occurs as we age. As we age, our metabolism slows and insulin gets more stubborn, requiring fewer calories and more help with digesting our food.
Here are some tips to balance your insulin.
- Eat raw and cooked vegetables
- Eat greens such as kale, spinach and chard
- Eat melons or berries that cause a lower sugar spike
- Eat protein
- Avoid sugars
- Avoid refined carbs
- Stay clear of excess salt
Known as the "stress hormone,” unfortunately, cortisol can accelerate aging faster than any of the other hormones listed so far. We always want a little cortisol spike to wake us up in the morning and keep us moving. However, large shifts to high cortisol levels can occur due to chronic stress. Increased cortisol will propel the body toward an inflammatory state. Inflammation then becomes the trigger for weight gain [link to next article], and various diseases including cancer, diabetes and autoimmune illnesses.
Keep these tips in mind to balance cortisol:
- Eat healthy fats (avocado, coconut, olive oil, almonds, cashews, pistachios)
- Eat protein
- Remove excess caffeine
- Remove excess sugar
- Eat leafy greens (rich in B vitamins & iron)
- Reduce stress (think yin/relaxation yoga, meditation, laughter)
This hormone makes us "feel like a woman." Think of it as the beauty hormone since it contributes to shiny hair, smooth skin, vibrancy and that feeling of being alive! Too much estrogen,
however, and we become prone to estrogen dominance. Then you may notice migraines, tender breasts, ovarian cysts and fibroids. Too little estrogen and your skin loses its elasticity, hair falls out and bones become weak. This "anti-aging" hormone needs to be in balance to feel your best.
The following foods support estrogen production:
- Healthy fats (avocado, coconut, olive oil, almonds, cashews, pistachios)
- Flax seeds
If you suffer from restless sleep or have difficulty focusing, then an unbalanced progesterone level may be the root cause. This is the "brain hormone" and keeps your cognition sharp and your sleep sound. If you notice your energy and mood changing during the last week of your cycle, you may be low in this hormone.
Foods that balance this hormone include:
- Foods high in magnesium; tofu, almonds, dark chocolate, avocados and black beans
- Pumpkin seeds
- Brown rice
- Dark leafy greens
- other lifestyle habits.
Chronic Stress: With chronic stress, you have increased cortisol and catecholamine levels in the body which can impair carbohydrate metabolism, leading to increased inflammation, weight gain, insulin resistance, and even type 2 diabetes. Stress management and adequate sleep may have the most significant impact on your cravings when you are trying to make changes to your food choices.