4 min|Rhiannon Lockhart
Better Hormone Health For Everyday LivingHormones
Simple Strategies for Better Hormone Health
There’s a lot of talk about your hormones these days and for good reason! Your hormones, including sex hormones, thyroid hormones and hunger hormones, play a big role in so many functions of your body. This can be anything from fertility to weight management.
For many people living in today’s fast-paced world, we often skip the foundations of hormone health. In order to get back on track, try these strategies built for anyone looking to find more support on their healthy-hormone journey:
3 Simple Tips for Hormone Balance
1. Get good sleep
The foundation of anyone’s health journey should be getting good quality sleep. Sleep issues negatively impact hormonal rhythm and metabolism, which is also associated with insulin insensitivity, diabetes, hormonal imbalance, and appetite dysregulation.(1)
Several of our hormones are regulated by sleep, including cortisol, growth hormone, melatonin, TSH, leptin and ghrelin (both impact hunger and satiety). (1) This means that not only are our sex hormones impacted by sleep disturbances, but also our metabolic function and weight can be altered. (2)(3)
According to the Government of Canada, 50% of adults have difficulty falling and/or staying asleep, and 1 in 5 Canadians do not feel refreshed after a night’s sleep.
There seems to always be a reason we’re not getting good quality shut eye, whether it’s sick kids or work deadlines. However, there are a few well-studied tips that help you get a better night’s sleep:
Optimize your sleep with a dark and cool room. If you are extremely sensitive to light, consider covering alarm clocks, leaving phones out of the bedroom and getting blackout curtains
Get off of your electronics 1 hour before bed (4)
Utilize supplements like magnesium or herbal teas like chamomile to help with relaxation
Reduce caffeine intake later in the day
Avoid alcohol closer to bedtime
Find more tips for a better night’s sleep here.
2. Reduce refined sugar
When looking directly at sugar’s impact on our hormones, we can first look at insulin. After consuming carbohydrates, your pancreas releases the hormone insulin to help pump blood sugar into cells to use as energy. Any excess glucose gets sent to the liver and stored as glycogen for later use.
A sedentary life paired with a diet high in refined carbohydrates (think white breads and pastas, sweets, cereal, pop, juice) means we’re not always using this excess glucose. This can lead to weight gain and impact our risk for disease like diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). (5)
When discussing female-specific hormone issues, insulin plays a major role in a condition called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). PCOS causes an array of hormone-related imbalances in women, including, but not exclusive to:
Hirsutism (excess hair growth)
Many of those with PCOS deal with insulin resistance, although to varying degrees. While many will be prescribed metformin, diet and lifestyle changes can also play a role. (6). Even without PCOS, excess refined sugar intake contributes to irregular cycles, irritability and PMS in menstruating women.
Consume most of your carbohydrates in the form of high-fibre foods like beans and legumes, ancient grains and starchy vegetables, which will help balance blood sugar and support bowel movements.
3. Start with breakfast
While intermittent fasting might be all the rage, it isn’t ideal for a large group of people and can negatively impact our hormones.
Avoid extending fasting periods if you deal with hormone imbalances like burnout or irregular periods. (7) Giving your digestive system a bit of a break can have benefits though. Still aim to “fast” for about 12 hours overnight (i.e. 7pm-7am), with more of the awake fasting hours before bed.
Rather than skip breakfast, aim to start your day with a protein-rich meal to start stabilizing your blood sugar (and hormones) from the start. (8)
Here are a few high-protein breakfast examples for you.
2 eggs, some smoked salmon, slice of sourdough bread with a small handful of an arugula salad
1 scoop protein powder, handful of spinach, berries, 1 scoop peanut butter with water all blended into a smoothie
Protein from dinner last night with some berries
1 serving Skyre yogurt with berries
In practice, these are the three areas that tend to need the most support, and can make the most drastic difference! If you’re looking to support your hormones further, here are a few more areas to investigate:
Your relationship with alcohol
Consuming good quality fat
Increasing your protein consumption
Changing up your exercise routine
Needing more help on your health journey? Book in with one of our practitioners to find better hormone harmony.
Rhiannon is the Registered Holistic Nutritionist at Integrative. She has a passion for making healthy eating easy, accessible and fun, loves getting outside, and enjoys spending time with her dog, Chloe!