Although you are probably most familiar with the sex hormones testosterone and estrogen, there are over 40 other hormones that keep your body running optimally and they are all interconnected. They affect nearly every system in your body, so if one is too high or too low, it throws the rest of them off, affecting one or more of your body’s functions.
How to Naturally Balance and maximize the Effects of Hormone Therapy in Six Steps
1. Eat Your Protein!
Eating enough protein is crucial. Your body can’t produce the essential amino acids in the protein that maintain muscle, bone, and skin health.
Research has shown that protein also influences the release of hormones that control your appetite and food consumption. When you eat protein, your ghrelin (hunger hormone) levels decrease, and the production of hormones like PYY and GLP-1 make you feel full. If you want to optimize your hormone levels, eat 20-30 grams of protein per meal.
2. Exercise, Exercise, Exercise!
Physical activity strongly influences hormonal health. One of the most significant benefits of exercise is that it reduces insulin levels and increases insulin sensitivity. Research has linked high insulin levels to inflammation, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. These conditions are also associated with insulin resistance, which is when your cells don’t respond appropriately to insulin signals.
When we age, certain hormone levels naturally decrease and cause muscle loss. If you are concerned with muscle loss, don’t give up on exercise. Physical activity can boost testosterone, IGF-1, DHEA, and growth hormone, which all support your body in maintaining muscle mass.
Vigorous exercise is not required. Research has shown that a combination of resistance and aerobic training provides the best results. However, practicing any kind of physical activity regularly will benefit your hormone levels.
3. Kick the Sugar and Refined Carbs Habit!
Avoiding or minimizing sugar and refined carbs may optimize hormone function and keep you from falling prey to obesity, diabetes, and other diseases.
Most types of sugar contain fructose. We’re not just talking about refined sugar and high-fructose corn syrup. Honey and maple syrup also contain fructose. Unfortunately for those with a sweet tooth, studies have consistently shown that fructose increases insulin levels and promotes insulin resistance.
The refined carbs found in pantry staples like white bread and pretzels can also promote insulin resistance in adults and adolescents.
What can you eat instead? A whole foods diet full of veggies, whole grains, fiber, some fruit, heart-healthy protein, and very few refined carbs is the perfect way to naturally balance hormones.
4. Create a Stress Strategy!
Stress wreaks havoc on hormones, particularly cortisol and adrenaline (epinephrine). These two hormones act in concert with one another. Cortisol’s job is to help you cope with stress over the long haul, while adrenaline is the “fight-or-flight” hormone that provides the surge of energy your body needs to respond to immediate danger.
When we first started out as humans, these hormones were triggered by real threats like predators. However, in modern times, they usually get triggered by busy, overwhelming lifestyles. If you are constantly stressed out, your cortisol levels remain elevated, leading to excessive calorie intake, obesity, and increased belly fat.
When adrenaline levels increase, they can cause high blood pressure, rapid heart rate, and anxiety. Luckily, adrenaline isn’t likely to become chronically elevated, so these symptoms usually pass more quickly.
To reduce chronic stress, create a stress strategy that includes stress-reducing techniques like meditation, yoga, massage, and listening to relaxing music. Massage therapy alone can reduce cortisol levels by 31% and increase levels of the mood-boosting hormones serotonin by 28% and dopamine by 31%.
Committing to at least 10–15 minutes a day to stress-reducing activities can do wonders to rebalance your hormones.
5. Favor Fatty Fish and Healthy Fats!
Eating high-quality natural fats, particularly from fatty fish, may help reduce insulin resistance and appetite. Because the liver can use it for immediate use as energy, one such fat is Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). You can find MCTs in coconut oil, palm oil, and pure MCT oil.
Research has also shown that dairy fats and monounsaturated fats (olive oil and nuts) can increase insulin sensitivity. To maintain hormone balance, consume a healthy fat source at each meal.
The long-chain omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish can help lower epinephrine and cortisol, increase insulin sensitivity and decrease insulin levels. Including two or more servings per week of fatty fish like salmon, sardines, herring, and mackerel in your diet can give your hormones the support they need to excel at their jobs.
Avoid trans fats. Research has shown that they promote insulin resistance and increase the storage of belly fat.
Not a fish person? Try our Super Omega-3 fish oil supplement!
6. Sleep, Seriously
A nutritious diet and regular exercise can only go so far if you aren’t getting enough quality sleep. Lack of restorative sleep can negatively affect your hormones, including insulin, cortisol, leptin, ghrelin, and growth hormone, leading to poor physical and mental health.
Take sleep seriously. Create an environment and find a routine that helps you get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. Each sleep cycle has five stages. Your brain needs to go through all five stages without interruption.
Getting at least 7 hours of sleep each night will optimize hormonal balance, especially growth hormone, which is released during deep sleep.
Maximize the Effects of Hormone Therapy and Find Your Balance
Your body needs each hormone in specific amounts for it to function optimally. Be a good friend to yourself and your body and give it what it needs whenever possible.
Some factors that bring on disease and discomfort are beyond your control, so take control where you can. Eat nutritious foods, exercise regularly, manage stress, and get enough good quality sleep. It will maximize the effects of Hormone Therapy and your hormones will thank you. And you’ll feel better than ever!
Ready to start feeling your best? Schedule your appointment today!