How Does Nutrition Influence Hormones?

When we think about what to eat to nourish our bodies, hormones may not always be top of mind. But our hormones play a very important role in our bodies.

Hormones are chemical messengers that are part of the endocrine system and help with growth and development, metabolism and digestion, fertility, stress and mood and more.

A number of factors contribute to hormone problems. Things like consuming processed foods, environmental factors and stress. You nutritional habits can be used as a tool to combat the things we can’t control like genetics or postpartum imbalances, menopause and more. 

There are over 200 hormones in the body. Estrogen, testosterone, cortisol, insulin, leptin, ghrelin and thyroid hormones are the most commonly known.

Your thyroid hormones, for example, help regulate weight, energy, temperature, growth of hair, skin and nails and more.

Another example you may have heard of is cortisol. Cortisol is released in times of stress and increases blood pressure and heart rate. Too much isn’t good for your health, and it’s often referred to as the “stress hormone.”

While these hormones are needed in your body for certain processes, when we eat a well-balanced diet, we keep them at the levels that serve our bodies best. Everybody’s bodies are different. We have different genetic makeup and different lifestyles that all influence our hormones. Your nutritional habits matter! When you consume the right kinds of foods, you are protecting yourself against out of the ordinary hormonal imbalances. Think of your nutritional habits as putting on your armor of defense! 

So what do you eat to keep your hormones in balance?

Consuming a balance of carbs, protein and fat will help maintain a healthy endocrine system. Eat less processed foods, fried foods, sugar and artificial sweeteners—and drink less alcohol—to avoid hormone imbalances. 

In addition to a healthy diet, getting adequate sleep, keeping stress levels low and exercising regularly are all crucial for hormone balance. 

While losing weight might help hormonal issues, be aware of the method you use to achieve weight loss. Simply cutting calories doesn’t work long term. You may lose weight but you also may be doing more harm than good by potentially depriving your body of the macronutrients it needs. 

Hormones impact so much of our growth and development, metabolism, digestion, fertility, mood, energy, appetite, weight and more. Eating a well balanced nutritional plan of cruciferous vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and adequate protein keeps hormones balanced. Not eating enough total calories, healthy fats or fiber can disrupt hormones and may lead to conditions like obesity, diabetes, infertility and cancer. Stress, alcohol, processed foods, and lack of sleep can also throw off hormones directly or indirectly by influencing the gut microbiome, which keeps hormones balanced.

When most of my clients come to me, thinking they are eating a well balanced diet, we dive into the numbers and find they are typically over-consuming carbs and fat and not getting enough protein. Protein is usually the hardest macronutrient to get enough of for women. This is why working with a coach and someone who can give you insight into your numbers helps. You have a target to shoot for instead of winging it and not hitting your goals. If you’re interested in setting some macronutrient goals and benchmarks to help keep your hormone levels in check, I’d love to chat with you about working together. Check out the link here to book a call with me. 

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