Role of Good Nutrition In Treating Hormonal Imbalances
Role of Good Nutrition In Treating Hormonal Imbalances
Hormones are the body’s Chemical Messengers secreted by the Special Gland known as Endocrine Gland which are distributed throughout the Body.
These messengers maintain Homeostasis in the Body and control many Physiological and Psychological Health Processes.
Endocrine Gland are Ductless Glands which are different from the other glands of the Human Body.
The various Endocrine Glands are as follows:
- Controls the Body, Temperature, Hunger, Thirst, Sleep, Mood & also regulates emotions.
- PINEAL/ THALAMUS-
- Produces Serotonin- derivative of Melatonin which affects Sleep Patterns.
- Controls the amount of Calcium present in the Body.
- Helps in the production of T-cells and functioning of adaptive Immune System.
- Produces Hormones that affect Heart Rate and Metabolic Rate.
- Produces Hormones that control Sex Drive, Cortisol & Stress Hormones.
- It is the Master Gland which controls other Glands and develops Hormones that trigger Growth and Development.
- Produces Insulin Hormone which play a crucial role in maintaining Blood-Sugar levels.
- In men, the main sex hormone- Testosterone is secreted. Testes also produce Sperms.
- In the female, the Ovaries release Estrogen, Progesterone, and Testosterone and other Female Sex Hormones.
All these Glands together Produce and Manage the Hormones in the Body.
IMPORTANT HORMONES & THEIR FUNCTIONS IN THE HUMAN BODY
- It is the Stress Hormone as it helps the body to handle Stress by increasing the Heart Rate, elevating Blood Sugar Levels, etc.
- This Hormone primarily controls the Circadian Rhythm or the Sleep Cycle.
- This is the main Female Sex Hormone to bring about Puberty and regulate the Menstrual Cycle. It prepares the Uterus and the Body for Pregnancy.
- This Female Sex Hormone is also responsible for Menstrual Cycle, Pregnancy, and Embryo-genesis.
- This most important Male Sex Hormone is responsible for Puberty, Muscle Mass Growth and Strengthening of Bones and Muscles and control of Facial Hair Growth.
FUNCTIONS OF HORMONES
- Growth and Development
- Maintaining Body Temperature
- Controlling Thirst and Hunger
- Food Metabolism
- Regulating Mood and Cognitive Function
- Initiating and Maintaining Sexual Development and Reproduction
WHAT IS HORMONAL IMBALANCE?
Hormonal Imbalances are caused by Malfunctioning of the Endocrine Gland- due to an Increase or Decrease in the Hormonal secretion which results in Several Hormonal Diseases which can severely affect Growth, Metabolism and Development.
Common Hormonal Issues are associated with Hypothalamus, Adrenal and Pituitary Gland resulting in diseases such as Hyper-Thyroidism, Osteoporosis, and Diabetes etc.
The factors responsible for Hormonal Diseases/ Imbalances can be-
- Related to Diet
Hormones are meant for their target issues for Specific function after which they are removed by the Liver, Kidney, and other organs.
The symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance can vary widely because of the Integral and Uniquely responsible role that each Hormone plays, in the overall Maintenance of Health.
Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance
- Sudden or Inexplicable Weight Gain or Weight loss
- Difficulty in Sleeping
- Extreme Sensitivity to Heat or Cold
- Excessive Sweating
- Frequent Urination
- Heart Rate Changes
- Anxiety, Irritability, Nervousness or Depression
- Excessive Hair Growth
- Breast Tenderness
- Purple or Pink Stretch Marks
- Decreased Sexual Function or Sex Drive
- Thinning Hair or Fine, Brittle Hair
- Muscle ache, Tenderness or Stiffness/Swelling
SYMPTOMS IN WOMEN
In women, PCOS is the most common Hormonal Imbalance.
- The normal hormonal cycle also changes naturally during-
The specific symptoms of Female Hormonal Imbalance are-
- Heavy or Irregular Periods
- Hirsutism or excess hair on the face, chin, or other parts of the body.
- Acne on the face, chest or upper back
- Thinning Hair or Hair Loss
- Double weight gain
- Vaginal Dryness
- Night Sweat
SYMPTOMS IN MEN
In men, insufficient production of Testosterone cause a variety of following symptoms-
- Development of Breast Tissue
- Erectile Dysfunction
- Loss of Muscle Mass
- Decreased Sex Drive
- Difficulty concentrating
- Hot Flashes
CAUSES OF HORMONAL IMBALANCES
There are many possible causes of Hormonal Imbalance depending on which Hormone or Gland are affected. Common causes include-
- Eating Disorders
- Injury or Trauma
- Cancer Treatment
- Pituitary Tumour
- Cushing Syndrome
- Hypothyroidism- Underactive Thyroid
- Hyperthyroidism- Overactive Thyroid
- Hormone Therapy
There’s no single solitary test that can diagnose or pinpoint a specific Hormonal Imbalance. Depending on the Symptoms present and the timeline along which they have occurred, certain Diagnostic Test are performed which are as follows-
- Blood Test- to check Thyroid, Estrogen, Testerone & Cortisol Level
- Pelvic Examination- in case of females, a Pap Smear is performed to check for Unusual Lumps, Cyst or Tumours. In the case of Males, Scrotum is checked for any Lumps or Abnormalities.
- Ultrasound- Ultrasound is used to get images of the Uterus, Ovaries, Testicles, Thyroid or Pituitary gland.
- Additional Test- In some cases, advance test like following are required-
- THYROID SCAN
- Sperm Count
NUTRITIONAL GUIDELINES FOR TREATING HORMONAL IMBALANCES-
- According to research done by Barry Sears (MD)- DIET is the most Potent Agent to Balance the Hormone as it allows the body to directly change the level of Hormones, like Insulin, Glucagon and Eicosanoids depending on the balance of Macronutrients consumed at every meal.
- A Balanced Diet is an important part of maintaining Good Hormonal Balance and is an integral part of overall Health. It is important to eat lots of Omega 3 Fatty Acids rich food, Healthy Protein and Antioxidants Rich Fruits and Vegetables.
- Eating Regularly and within a Healthy Calorie Range of the Body is important to make the Menstrual Cycle more Regular. A Healthy Weight reduction upto 10% also promotes the Fertility in both men and women.
- It is important to eat an Alkaline Diet based on Higher pH food like- Green Leafy Vegetables and other low calorie vegetables like Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Sprouts, Cucumbers, which has a natural detoxifying effect on our body.
- Plant based Clean Protein Sources should be included in our diet. Alkaline fats such as in Avocado, Nuts, and Olive Oil should form the basis of Healthy Fat Calories in the Diet.
- Including Green Tea in the Daily Dietary Regime helps to Lower Blood Sugar Levels and prevent Insulin Resistance which is an integral part of treating PCOS.
CONNECTION BETWEEN DIET & HORMONES
Hormones are important for our health and Optimal Body Functioning. Whenever one hormone is OFF, it affects the entire Body creating Hormonal Imbalances. Hormonal Balance requires-
- Healthy Digestion
- Stable sugar level
- Well Functioning Liver
Whenever we Restore the Gut Health by eating an Anti-inflammatory Diet, Maintain Normal Sugar Levels and Optimal Liver Health, it not only rebalances the Hormones but helps to revert many pre-existing Ailments like-
- Seasonal Allergies
- Chronic Stress
It is most Essential to understand the Role of Food in Balancing Hormones and creating Daily Eating Habits best suited for you. An Anti-inflammatory Diet based on Whole Foods and an abundance of Green Leafy Vegetables, Fruits, Nuts and Seeds and with minimal amounts of Processed Food, Sugar and Alcohol in the Diet.
FOODS TO AVOID TO PREVENT HORMONAL IMBALANCES
- The Caffeine in Coffee gives a jolt of Energy which is often so needed in the Morning and then again by mid-afternoon.
- The Caffeine causes the burst of Cortisol production and too much of caffeine can make the Cortisol go haywire resulting in-
- Sleep Problems
- Lower Metabolism
- Poor Blood Sugar Regulation
- Weight Fluctuation
- Decreased Immunity
- Compromised Mental Health.
- Some of the Natural and Healthy sources of Caffeine are-
- Green Tea, Black Tea
- Dark Chocolate
All of these taken in moderation stimulates the Nervous System without causing Side Effects.
- Too much and too often Sugar consumption leads to Insulin Resistance, Weight gain and risks of Type 2 Diabetes.
- Refined and Direct Sugar should be minimised to prevent the Hormone altering effects of consistent late night Sugar consumption.
- Refined Sugar should be replaced with a more Healthy Natural Fruit Sugar in the form of Whole Fruits rather than Juices, Jams or Concentrate.
- Eating Refined Carbs can potentially have the same detrimental effect on our Hormones as direct sugar.
- This not only disturbs the Insulin Level but other Hormones like the Feel-good Hormone Serotonin which makes us crave Carbs whenever we are stressed and leads to elevated Cortisol levels.
- It is advisable to eat Complex Carbohydrates with low Glycemic Index such as-
- Whole Grain Cereals
- Pulses/ Legumes
- Fibre Rich Fruits & Vegetables
- Meat can be labelled as an ENEMY to our Hormonal Health.
- The Hormone feeded Meat and Meat Products are a Potential Threat to our health in many ways.
- Since it is extremely challenging to find Organic sources of Lean Meat, it is advisable to meet the Protein requirements from a variety of Plant Based Protein sources like-
- Soy Products
- Nut Butter
- Dark Leafy Greens
- Consumption of Alcohol in the smallest amount also has a Detrimental effect on the total Well Being of the Body.
- It not only affects the Blood-Sugar levels controlling Insulin and hence the Metabolism but also impacts the Sexual Hormone by reducing Testosterone in men and disturbs Women Menstrual cycle.
- It also disturbs the Body’s ability to handle and respond to Stressful Situations by causing Disturbances in the Balance between the Stress Hormone- Cortisol and the Feel-good Hormone- Serotonin.
Based on the Nutritional Guidelines and Inclusion/ Exclusion of certain Food Items, following is Diet Plan to Maintain Optimal Hormonal Balance.
A glass of Lukewarm Water with half Lemon and one small teaspoon of Honey (Pure & Organic)
100 ml of Methi Dana infused Water (Soak one teaspoon of well-washed Methi Dana overnight in a glass container)
Millet based Vegetable Upma/ Idli with Coconut Chutney
200 ml of Homemade Chach with lots of roasted Jeera Powder
One seasonal Fruit
Two small Multigrain Chapati with Seasonal Green Vegetable and a Medium Size Bowl of Lauki/Carrot/Cucumber Raita
A cup of Green Tea with Dry Roasted Makhanas
Vegetable Based Pulse Preparation with Medium Bowl of Brown Rice, Steamed Green Veggies
NOTE & TIPS-
Along with a Balanced Diet based on Healthy Proteins and Fats, it is essential to engage in regular Physical Exercise to Boost Metabolism and prevent Insulin Resistance.
- It is important to avoid Overeating/ Under-eating as well as too much of Refined and Direct Sugar to Maintain Good Health.
- Learning to manage Stress with Meditative Practices, Massage, Yoga and listening to Soothing Music is an Integral part of Maintaining Good Hormonal Health.
- It is most important to ensure a Minimum of Seven and a Half to Eight hours of Sleep Restorative. Sleep Deprivation leads to Imbalances of many Hormones including Insulin, Cortisol, Leptin, Ghrelin and Growth Hormones.