Turns out stubborn weight that just won’t budge, energy slumps, and painful PMS or menopause issues could be all down to your hormones.
We’ve heard almost every theory in the book and consider every lick of new research about why our bodies just simply aren’t performing the way we want them to: “eat a whole-food, plant-based diet”, “eliminate gluten, wheat, sugar and dairy.” Like hello, what’s left?
What’s more, there are many of us eating clean, eating paleo, eating more vegetables and supplementing with every mineral and vitamin known to man and still not seeing results. And like the gut, to understand the significant role hormones play in our body’s function and optimal performance, FQ headed along to ‘The Hormone Secret’, a BePure seminar presented by clinical nutritionist, Ben Warren, to find out just how critical hormone health really is.
WATCH: What we learned at Nadia’s Well-thy Workshop
Here’s what we learned
Turns out, the food we’re eating simply isn’t what it used to be, and it’s certainly not what our grandparents were eating. Over the past 50 years or more, we’ve modified the processes supporting the growth, production, and manufacturing of our food. Although these developments and disruptions to the natural world sought to improve our living conditions, consequently, the phenomenon of poor health, declining fertility and high rates of inflammation and allergies have emerged and are growing at a prolific rate.
But what does that have to do with our hormones? In short, the modern world is working against our hormones and any opportunity we have in restoring balance to our hormones. They’re receptive to everything we breathe, we put on our skin and what we eat. And why are hormones so important? Well, our hormones travel through our bloodstream and other body fluids to organs and tissues where they act to modify structures and functions. They’re at the centre of our wellbeing and happiness and have a great deal of say in our energy levels and our ability to lose weight, plus obviously they support fertility and restore overall balance.
So yeah, they’re pretty important. But before you start to feel stressed, read on for some of Ben Warren’s recommendations on how to restore balance to your hormones.
How to restore balance to your hormones
With more than 50 different hormones on-the-go coordinating our mood, digestion and our energy levels, most of the functions that our body performs happen as a result of one form of hormone or another. When our hormones fall out of sync with each other, issues arise causing mood disorders, weight gain, and fatigue.
We need more Vitamin D
Due to damaging UV sun rays, our modern mainly indoor lifestyle and the degrading nutritional quality of our food (this includes mass-produced fresh fruit and vegetables in the supermarkets), we are not getting adequate vitamin D naturally with an astounding 84% of New Zealanders being deficient in vitamin D. So if we’re eating food that lacks nutrition, or is processed, refined, or laced with chemicals which our immune system flags as nasties, we don’t absorb any goodness through our gut and we can’t support our hormones.
Eliminate processed foods
By pursuing a wholefood diet, you’re lessening your probability of developing insulin resistance. Insulin is the hormone that allows your body to use the sugar from carbs for energy. Through eliminating processed food, sugar, processed grains and gluten, you’re reducing the possibility of an insulin spike occurring once you’ve eaten and ultimately the opportunity for our body to feel the need to store fat. Whole grains, on the other hand, like buckwheat, quinoa, millet, brown basmati rice and rolled oats, make your body work much harder on the outside of the grain using enzymes to break down the nutrients. Not only do they work wonders on your metabolism, but they also keep you fuller for longer and more stable.
When we need energy, the insulin hormone will release glucose into our bloodstream. As the quantity of sugar in our modern day diet increases, we need more and more insulin to regulate the glucose in our blood. If you’re constantly serving your body up processed carbs that drive your blood sugar up, which your body then needs to counter with insulin, your body can become resistant to the insulin. Once you become insulin resistant, glucose stores up in your blood that can eventually lead to type 2 diabetes – placing more importance on eating the correct balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats for your unique body.
Choose organic or grow your own
This “clean-eating” business didn’t emerge to give trendy bloggers something to gram about. It’s a movement and a medicine that shouldn’t be considered anything short of a plausible solution for our future for those plagued by health bothers from the modern world. The key, however, to actually reap the benefits from your fruits, vegetables, and supplementary vitamins is to ensure they’re from an organic source. Today we are exposed to oestrogen-mimicking chemicals, called xenoestrogens. They are found in almost everything, from plastics to chemicals used in skin care, to produce farmed with herbicides and pesticides. Unfortunately, our body has little or no counterbalancing hormone to mitigate these oestrogen hormones and they can block our receptor sites and load the liver.
Manage your stress
Progesterone is one of our female reproductive hormones that can easily get thrown off balance. It’s responsible for keeping us calm and feeling in control, and it has an anti-anxiety and antidepressant effect. So managing your stress is a key way to lower your cortisol hormone and boost your progesterone. Cortisol is the primary hormone of the stress response and is secreted by the adrenal glands. It’s part of your sympathetic nervous system and when elevated, it stimulates your body by raising blood pressure and blood sugars, plus it’s an anti-inflammatory which helps you respond to danger with the ability to fight or take flight. Again, keep that blood sugar stabilised through a good diet and take conscious steps to remain calm. Drink herbal tea, reduce caffeine, exercise moderately, take deep breathes, draw a bath and prioritise sleep.
Eat foods rich in iodine
Alongside Vitamin-D, New Zealanders are also largely deficient in iodine. When your iodine levels are low, your thyroid glands can’t do their job which is to produce two key thyroid hormones – a storage hormone called thyroxine T4 and active thyroid hormone called triiodothyronine T3. These hormones are responsible for regulating metabolism and the rate of biochemical reactions in the body.