How To Naturally Balance Hormones With Nutrition and Lifestyle
by team nuut
Keep your hormones in rhythm with smart lifestyle changes and a daily dose of plant-based protein powder.
Feel out of whack and don’t know why? It could be your hormones. Sluggishness, acne, headaches, and weight gain are common symptoms, but luckily, these imbalances can be resolved with lifestyle changes. By shaking up your diet and routine, it is possible to regain hormone harmony.
What Are Hormones?
Hormones are chemical messengers that stabilise body temperature, keep our metabolism ticking, moderate our growth and development, control our fertility and influence our hormones. The endocrine system is like a conductor leading this orchestra of hormones through its many daily performances:
Leptin is a hormone that plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy weight. It suppresses the appetite and tells the body when it's full and to stop eating. Ghrelin works closely with Leptin. It stimulates the appetite and tells the body it's time to eat.
Insulin is necessary for the cells in your body to use the glucose in your bloodstream correctly. With diabetes, there's either little-to-no insulin or the body can't use the insulin it does have properly.
The thyroid hormone regulates metabolism, which means it plays a role in appetite, digestion, and overall energy levels. It controls metabolism, the process by which your body transforms food into energy.
Cortisol, the stress hormone, triggers specific processes in the endocrine system, like the fight-or-flight response, when the body makes both cortisol and adrenaline. When we suffers chronic stress, the body makes cortisol and other stress-related hormones.
Melatonin plays a vital role in controlling your circadian rhythm. Sunlight prevents melatonin production, which is secreted by your pineal gland. At night, your body produces more melatonin, which makes you sleepy.
Sex hormones are sometimes called "female" and "male" hormones because progesterone is produced in the ovaries, and testosterone is mainly produced in the testicles.
What Is a Hormone Imbalance?
Hormones are chemical messengers that coordinate many complex processes involved in almost every function in the body. A hormone imbalance occurs when there is too little or too much of a particular hormone in the system.
While your hormone levels fluctuate throughout the day and throughout your lifetime, such as during puberty, pregnancy and menopause, lifestyle and emotional factors like stress and medications can also lead to hormone imbalances.
Signs of Hormone Imbalance
The body produces more than 50 types of hormones, which shift and change naturally within the body so everyone can experience hormonal imbalance at least once in their life.
For women, imbalances can occur during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, and menopause. Men may experience hormonal imbalances during puberty and aging.
There are endless combinations of imbalances and symptoms can include:
• Mood swings
• Stress and anxiety
• Weight gain
• Sleep disturbances
• Night sweats and hot flashes
• Loss of energy
• Hair loss
• Decrease in sex drive and self-confidence
• Loss of muscle mass
• Body temperature change
• Not feeling feminine or masculine
How To Balance Hormones Naturally
Certain foods can help keep your hormones in check and your body functioning properly. Following a plant-based diet can help.
Here are some nutritious foods to focus on for optimal hormone health.
1. Brazil Nuts
Just two of these nutrient-dense nuts a day is all you need to help maintain thyroid function. Just one Brazil nut contains about 95 micrograms of selenium (our recommended daily intake is 55 micrograms) which supports the production of thyroid hormones that help control metabolism. Brazil nuts are also packed with magnesium and healthy fats.
2. Sweet Potatoes
Remember when Sex and The City's Samantha smothered herself in sweet potato, hoping to get a big natural dose of hormones to prevent her from ricocheting into menopause? Well, it turns out she was onto something!
This sweet root vegetable is high in fibre, potassium, vitamin A, and beta carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A to support hormone balance. One medium sweet potato provides all the vitamin A you need daily, so bake with abandon and fill with your favourite toppings. Your hormones will love you for it!
3. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are rich in vitamins, antioxidants, healthy fats and, most importantly, fibre, which is critical for hormone balance because it helps manage blood sugar and insulin resistance.
Studies show fibre increases insulin sensitivity and stimulates the production of hormones that create a feeling of satiety. Your gut microbiome ferments soluble fibre in your colon, producing SCFAs that stimulate the release of the fullness hormones PYY and GLP-1. When we don’t consume enough fibre, our bodies cannot break down foods properly, so we can’t absorb the nutrients and metabolise hormones as effectively.
Ramp up your fibre intake with versatile chia seeds by adding them to plant-based protein shakes, puddings, smoothies, yogurt, and oatmeal.
Learn more about these teeny, tiny powerhouses here.
4. Olive Oil
The healthy fats found in olive oil can help balance hormone levels, while its anti-inflammatory properties can reduce the severity of hot flashes and other annoying symptoms associated with menopause. Fat is needed to make cholesterol, a foundational building block for hormone production. Healthy fats nourish the body and brain while stabilising insulin and blood sugar levels.
Eating more healthy fats can help make hormones happy. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to salads and vegetable dishes to build the right healthy fat balance that helps the body properly build hormones.
The protein in salmon is known for balancing your hunger hormones, which make you feel full and satisfied. Salmon also provides high levels of omega-3 fatty acids that give salmon its brain- and heart-boosting abilities. They are also called essential fatty acids because your body can’t produce them, and you must get them from your diet. Omega-3s are needed for synthesising hormones that regulate blood clotting, arterial function, and inflammation. They include eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and can also help metabolise estrogen, preventing it from being stored in the body.
Salmon is also a source of cholesterol, which is needed for building estrogen and testosterone, which decline as we age, as well as vitamin D to build stronger bones.
If salmon a couple of nights a week isn’t your jam, try supplementing with fish oil, which has been shown to reduce the release of cortisol and adrenaline during stressful situations.
6. Cruciferous Vegetables
Add broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage to your dinner plate more often for their important role in metabolising hormones, including estrogen.
Their high levels of phytonutrients, vitamins and antioxidants support healthy estrogen levels and overall hormone health, and they are high in fibre, making them a nutritious main dish or addition to a meal.
Not a fan of veggies? Try adding cauliflower to your nuut plant-based powder smoothie. It makes it super creamy plus it’s tasteless! For more nifty nuut ideas, head to the journal.
Protein is an essential part of our nutrition and is the main component of our muscles, skin, internal organs, eyes, hair and nails. Our immune system relies on protein to make antibodies that fight infections. Protein also affects blood sugar regulation, fat metabolism and energy function.
As we age, we produce less growth hormones, so increasing protein consumption is essential to building muscle. If we don't get adequate protein and start to lose muscle mass, our blood sugar levels go up because muscles require high glucose levels. When glucose isn't used up by our muscles (due to less mass), it is converted to fat.
Look no further than a plant-based diet rich in protein-rich foods to support your hormones:
• Nut butter
• Nuts and seeds
Other great ways to hit your daily protein intake on a plant-based diet are by eating more whole grains and high-protein snacks like nuts, nut butter, and plant-based protein powder.
nuut vegan protein powder is 100% plant-based powdered nourishment and a whopping one-third of your daily dietary requirements. Add just one sachet to plant-based milk, shake and sip for a big protein rush.
Ensure your calorie intake isn't too low, as your body will burn protein for energy rather than producing other proteins.
If you're trying to lose weight or find it hard to consume enough calories, increase your intake of protein-rich foods or add another scoop of vegan protein powder to a shake or smoothie.
If you wake feeling cranky or fatigued, it’s likely a hormonal imbalance created by a disrupted night's sleep.
While you sleep each night, your body is recovering from the previous day's exertions while preparing for the next. This involves producing and regulating many of your body’s hormones.
Sleep may be among the most important factors for hormonal balance. Levels of some hormones may rise and fall throughout the day in response to issues such as sleep quality.
Also, your brain needs uninterrupted sleep to go through all five stages of each sleep cycle. This is especially important for releasing the growth hormone, mainly during deep sleep. Aim for at least 7 hours of high-quality sleep per night to maintain optimal hormonal balance.
Sip Green Tea
Green tea may help balance insulin in some people by improving the body's response to the hormone. It contains antioxidants and compounds that boost metabolic health, and studies reveal a link between green tea and reduced fasting insulin levels.
The antioxidants in the tea may also help manage oxidative stress. Matcha green tea is a great alternative for those who don’t like the taste of traditional green tea. Matcha is made from shade-grown tea leaves ground into a fine powder. Add one teaspoon to hot water and stir, or pimp your morning shake for a super-energising, hormone-balancing smoothie.
The amount of movement and physical activity we do greatly impacts the body's hormonal responses. When we contract our muscle fibres, the movement and fibre activation communicate with the fat cells and adipose tissues. Our heart rate and the activation of our nervous system cause our brain to release various hormones, which control how our peripheral organs respond.
The four hormones critical to fitness are cortisol, insulin, thyroid, and sex hormones (testosterone in men and progesterone in women). When out of balance, they can also prevent you from hitting your fitness goals and exercise intensity, especially cardio, significantly affects the thyroid hormone.
The more intense your workout, the more these hormones are released. Sip a nuut plant-based powder before or after working out to replenish your muscles and energy. And remember, consistency is key to keeping a steady flow of healthy, happy hormones throughout your body.