The symptoms are there, but you probably aren’t sure what is causing them. They might include extreme mood swings., water retention, fatigue right before your period, weight gain, decreased libido, and depression. While you might be thinking that something is seriously wrong, you’re probably experiencing a hormonal imbalance. And this condition isn’t limited to women – men experience it too. The symptoms may include reduced passion, fatigue and loss of muscle among others.
The first step is understanding the functions of hormones: they are the chemical messengers that help control different bodily functions including metabolism, immune system, reproductive system and menstrual cycle. The main hormones include estrogen, insulin, cortisol and glucagon. If any of these hormones are out of whack, you may experience one or more of the symptoms described.
Diet and Food are the Culprits
So, what’s the cause of a hormonal imbalance? Is it a chemical reaction in your bloodstream or an organ that isn’t functioning properly? Surprisingly, it can be linked to something as simple as your diet and the foods you eat. Yes, diet and foods – and it’s especially true for women in menopause.
- Sugars – once you have a lot of sugar in your bloodstream, the pancreas releases more insulin. If this is a continuous process, you not only risk diabetes, but it will also have a negative impact on your hormone levels. Excessive sugar or corn syrup also has a negative impact on your cortisol levels. Plus, an increase in insulin triggers fat production, and the more fat you have the more estrogen your body produces. That can really cause your hormone levels to go out of balance.
- Caffeine – despite lining up at your favorite coffee shop every morning to enjoy the company and the taste of your favorite caffeine drink, you need to know that it’s not that good for your body. Because caffeine directly affects the brain and pituitary-adrenal axis, your body has trouble managing stress during activity. Your cortisol levels increase, which triggers glucose to be released into the bloodstream. Finally, caffeine has a negative impact on your body’s micronutrients, which are essential for hormone balance. If you’re a caffeine junkie – go ahead and drink in moderation – and always drink it with food.
- High-fat foods – we’re talking about unhealthy fats. Fats that are processed like canola, safflower, sunflower and corn oil are all inflammatory and can cause damage to your body. Your body does need healthy fats, like coconut products, avocados, butter, avocado and olive oils, plus eggs and organic grass -fed meat products.
- Alcohol – like caffeine, even small amounts of alcohol can boost the levels of estrogen in women. It has also been shown to decrease progesterone levels, so limiting the amount of alcohol you consume – or even eliminating it all together can help bring your hormone levels back into balance.
- Soy – you may have heard that soy is one of the healthy food products. But unfermented soy contains high levels of isoflavones – which actually mimic your estrogen in your body. Your body will think you have there’s more estrogen than there really is, which will throw other hormones out of balance. Fermented soy like tempeh is safe to eat. Soy has actually been linked to increased risks of cancer, reduced male fertility and other problems.
Start Eating A Healthier Diet
Food products like caffeine and certain oils can have a negative impact on your body. By avoiding some of these foods and beverages, you’ll have a better chance of not throwing your body’s hormone balance out of synch.
Start eating a healthier diet that includes “good oils,” less caffeine and alcohol and unprocessed meats and dairy products. This will help eliminate unwanted hormones and antibiotics from being introduced into your body. Plus, a healthier diet will lead to overall better health, which is something that we’re all striving to achieve!
Image Credit: Linda Söndergaard | Unsplash