Updated: Jul 19
By: Taylor Akers, Winthrop University Graduate Student
Have you ever considered that your hormones are the reason you aren’t losing weight or feeling your best? Often we find ourselves frustrated from feeling like we are doing everything right and not seeing the results we want. You eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly yet nothing has changed. This could be due to an imbalance in key hormones.
Hormones are your body’s chemical messengers that travel throughout your body and affect your emotional, mental and physical health. The five major hormones we should all be aware of are cortisol, melatonin, insulin, testosterone and estrogen. There are many factors that affect our hormones such as living a sedentary lifestyle, eating a Western diet and age. Through proper nutrition and lifestyle you can improve the rate at which your hormones are used and produced.
Below are 4 ways you can improve your hormonal health on your own.
1. Consume healthy fats
Adding healthy fats to your diet can help reduce your appetite, reduce insulin resistance and maintain estrogen levels.
Fats are the second source of energy after carbohydrates are used. Eating a low-fat diet likely means you are eating more carbohydrates which promotes prolonged high levels of insulin. If you are not consuming enough fats your estrogen levels can decrease as well as the amount of serotonin produced in the body.
Good sources of fat include avocados, olive oil, seeds and nuts, and fatty fish such as salmon.
2. Partake in a high fiber diet
Many of us do not consume enough diet daily. Fiber is important for digestion but also your hormones. Eating a diet rich in fiber is known to lower estrogen levels and decrease your risk of breast cancer as well as some preventable diseases. Fiber is also known to decrease insulin and glucose peaks which is important in the prevention of Type-2 Diabetes. Some foods high in fiber are legumes, vegetables and some nuts and seeds.
3. Engage in daily physical activity
Exercising is a tricky one because it is important to get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day but over-exercising can put a strain on your body and hormones. Activities that you should limit to a few times a week are HIIT style training and running. Overdoing it on these can increase your stress hormones which can lead to muscle loss, fatigue or injury. Light activity such as yoga, walking or strength training has shown to reduce stress and balance out your hormones.
Remember, when it comes to exercise don’t overthink it. Do what makes you feel good and aim to not overwork yourself.
4. Lower sugar intake
Refined sugars are known for spiking our blood sugar, which leads to an increase of insulin in our bloodstream. When we are constantly consuming these refined sugars throughout the day our hormones are sent into overdrive to balance out the sugar spike in our blood. This ultimately leads to depression, weight gain, brain fog and preventable diseases.
To keep your hormones leveled, try to limit refined sugars and consume a diet rich in lean proteins, healthy fats and fiber-rich carbohydrates. There are sugars that occur naturally in our foods such as fruits, honey and juices. These sugars are not as harmful as refined sugars but should still be limited in the diet.
There are a lot of other factors to consider when trying to balance out your hormones. If you are tired of feeling like you’re doing everything right then try these small but helpful tips that can lead you to feeling your best.
How Dietary Fat Benefits Hormones - Women's International Pharmacy. https://www.womensinternational.com/blog/dietary-fat-benefits-hormones/.
The 4 Best Exercises for Hormonal Imbalance - Endocrineweb. https://www.endocrineweb.com/news/the-best-exercise-for-hormonal-imbalance.
Forward, Jamie. “Sugar Is Wreaking Havoc on Your Hormonal Health.” Observer, Observer, 13 Feb. 2018, https://observer.com/2018/02/sugar-is-wreaking-havoc-on-your-hormonal-health/#:~:text=Refined%20sugar%20is%20also%20known,cognitive%20function%20and%20body%20temperature.).