We’ve all experienced it…you know, the unexplained mood swings, fatigue, irritability or weight-loss/gain, and for no reason, well at least it seems that way. Well, chances are it may be your hormones and endocrine system signally it needs some attention.
The endocrine system is made up of a network of glands and organs throughout the body that secrete hormones, the body’s chemical messengers that carry information and instruction from one set of cells to another. The endocrine system influences almost every cell, organ and function in our bodies, these include:
• Growth and development
• Sexual function and reproduction
• Heart rate
• Blood pressure
• Sleeping and waking cycles
• Body temperature
The endocrine system is made up of the pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid, hypothalamus, adrenals, pineal body, testes, ovaries and pancreas. These regulates how much of each hormone is released depending on levels of hormones already in the blood, or on levels of other substances in the blood, like calcium.
When it’s not working properly, you become more prone to disease as your ability to fight off infection is weakened, since even the tiniest change in hormones can have serious effects throughout the body.
While some hormone levels fluctuate throughout your lifetime and may just be the result of puberty or natural aging, other changes occur when your endocrine glands are distressed by things that affect hormone levels, such as stress, medication, infection, trauma and changes in the balance of fluid and minerals in blood.
Nutrients play a major role in providing nutrition to each organ and gland to dynamically fulfil their function. Without nutritional balance, our body is inefficient to manufacture energy needed for metabolism.
Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein are part of any healthy diet, let’s look at some of the main foods to add to your diet which may help in re balancing and regulating your hormones.
Foods to add to your hormone balancing shopping list:
Sex Hormones: Estrogen, Progesterone, Testosterone.
Function: Development of our sex characteristics (eg, hips and breasts), manage our reproduction and sexual motivation & libido.
Imbalance: Puberty, menopause, diet, lifestyle and exposure to toxins.
• B-well Canola Oil
• Flax Seed
• Wild Salmon
• Fermented foods, like Organic Tempeh, Miso, sauerkraut, kombucha
• Sunflower seeds
• Sweet potatoes
Thyroid Hormones: TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone), T3, T4, Calcitonin
Function: Metabolism and Energy levels
Imbalance: Iodine deficiency, growth in thyroid, inability to produce thyroid hormones.
• Brazil Nuts
Adrenal Hormones: Cortisol, adrenaline, DHEA, aldosterone and norephinephrine
Function: regulation of blood pressure and blood sugar levels, help produce sex hormones and help to manage stress.
Imbalance: Chronic physical and emotional stress, lack of sleep and poor diet, including high sugar diets that tips off blood sugar levels.
• Bell peppers
• Pumpkin seeds
• Sea salt
Hormone Super Plants:
• Cortisol: Ashwaganda & Holy Basil
• Insulin: Berberine & cinnamon
• Detoxification: Milk Thistle & Coriander
• Pituitary: Vitex & Evening Primrose oil.
As you can see, a diet that encourages hormonal balance isn’t hard to attain with all these delicious ingredients that can be used as part of a balanced diet. It is also crucial to remember that a balanced diet includes foods that help the body to rid toxins and then to limit the amount of toxins and additives that exert stress on the body, like alcohol and processed foods. Lifestyle changes that include exercise, meditation and good amounts of sleep have to be implemented too in order to re-establish balance and your body’s natural flow.