The role hormones play in our body’s well-being cannot be contested. Their imbalance adversely affects health, especially in women. It could lead to different diseases and conditions like PCOD, irregular periods, and obesity. To crack the secret to promoting hormonal health, we asked Nutrition and Lifestyle Educator Karishma Chawla to join us for our weekly #GirlTribeLive on Malini’s Girl Tribe. She helped shed light on the importance of hormones, what causes their imbalance, foods and lifestyle choices that enable hormonal health, and more! Read on to see what was discussed.
Why do we need to think of our hormonal health?
However clichéd it may sound, you are what you absorb. The food that you eat, the water you drink, the feelings you feel, and the thoughts you think—all add up to the quality of your health. When you’re trying to lose weight, for instance, it’s not just the food you eat that matters. Your stress levels, quality of friendships and relationships, amount of exercise, career and other factors matter too. When we balance all of these together, the body performs better by creating the best quality of hormones.
Now going beyond ‘you are what you eat’, it’s also what you are capable of doing with what you eat. The raw materials for the best hormones are proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Their presence in the body affects your overall well-being, performance, and productivity.
As women, especially, we need to pay more attention to our hormones.
Some women may want to have babies at some point. What one eats doesn’t just affect the health of their child, but also their grandchild. Isn’t that enough reason to adopt the right eating habits?
What are the symptoms of hormonal imbalance?
Being overweight, experiencing difficulty while walking or breathing, not being able to do daily chores, fluctuating energy levels, high levels of stress are all common symptoms of hormonal imbalance. Women, in particular, may experience dry skin, hair loss, obesity, insulin resistance, etc. Some may even have PCOS, infertility, difficulty in conceiving, irritability, thyroid, chronic depression and a faster onset of menopause.
Karishma mentions three A’s we must all follow to promote happier hormones:
- Accept your condition
- be Aware, and
- take the right Action
How to get hormone levels checked?
While it’s important to go to a gynaecologist when you’re dealing with irregular periods or to a dermatologist when dealing with skin conditions, depending on your symptoms, you should also see an endocrinologist or a nutritionist. Advice from these experts on diet and exercise would aid your health. It’s best to get blood tests done, or even sonography if recommended.
How to balance hormones naturally?
1. Prioritise sleep
When at rest, the body is removing toxins, recharging the mind and creating the right hormones. “Sleep your way to the top,” says Arianna Huffington, and it couldn’t be truer. Karishma suggests we make a bedtime routine, put a curfew on the use of electronics two hours before sleeping, turn off the wifi and Bluetooth, and keep the phone for charging away from the bed.
2. Manage stress
Often, an increase in stress leads to the fight or flight response in the body. To get more energy, the body raises sugar levels. The extra energy when not used gets converted to fat. It also releases cortisol in the system, which increases inflammation in the body, which in turn affects hormones. Karishma recommends stress management techniques like yoga, journaling, and tai chi. And acupuncture as an alternative therapy to help release stuck up emotions and enable blood flow to the entire body.
3. Improve gut health
90% of our neurotransmitters and hormones like serotonin are manufactured in the gut. 70% of the immune system lies in the gut. Technically, most of the diseases start in the gut. Gut health is connected to the food we eat. So eliminate gluten (wheat), soy, corn, refined sugar and dairy from your diet. These foods penetrate the gut lining, creating an imbalance of gut bacteria, which creates inflammation that affects hormones. Adding probiotics and fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, and yoghurt to the diet are beneficial. Ensure they don’t have high sugar content.
Even if you feel tired and don’t want to hit the gym, you must work out. Pro tip: Limit caffeine to one cup in the morning. Try having a glass of vegetable juice in the morning for an energy boost.
What are the foods that promote hormone health?
Eggs, dals, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
2. Fatty acids
Drop the wrong fats like those found in processed, packaged or fried food. Add good fats like those found in avocados, olive oil, and coconut oil. They are an easy source of energy, prevent inflammation and work for the thyroid function. Pro tip: Add a tsp of coconut oil in your morning cup of coffee. It negates the negative effect of caffeine. Consume nuts and seeds, though in moderation. Have them raw, as roasting them decreases the fatty acid content.
Foods like chia seeds, walnuts, flax seeds; good fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines; high-quality fish oil capsules are rich in omega-3. They help relieve menstrual cramps, water retention, and insulin sensitivity. They’re amazing for fertility and aid in conceiving.
Consume the right kind of carbs as they are an easy source of energy. Drop the wrong carbs like those found in white rice, refined sugar, and excessive fruit juices or dried fruits. These increase the blood sugar levels, which creates insulin resistance and consequently, hormonal imbalance.
5. Vitamin B complex
Whole grains, green leafy veggies, lean meat, etc.
Through food and lifestyle, I help people to create the best version of themselves,
says Karishma. When you eat clean, unlearn habits that are not working for you and adopt the right practices, it’s the ultimate form of self-love. This creates magical results in the entire living process for the body.
Are you dealing with any hormonal conditions? What lifestyle practices do you follow? Please share it with us in the comments below!