Do you find it difficult to sleep properly? Feeling bloated, irritable, or just not your best? Are you having mood swings, anxiety, or depression? Have you gained weight recently and can’t explain it? A hormone imbalance could be to blame.
When there is too much or too little of any hormone in the bloodstream, the condition is termed ‘hormonal imbalance’. Because of the essential roles that hormones play, even a slight imbalance can have significant effects on the body.
What are hormones?
To understand the importance of having a proper balance of hormones, let’s first discuss what hormones are. “Hormones are the body’s chemical messengers, and are produced in the endocrine glands. These intelligent chemicals constantly convey instructions to the tissues and organs. They help in controlling appetite, weight, moods and other bodily functions,” says Aswini Sagar, certified clinical nutritionist and founder of Ahaarveda.
What causes hormonal imbalance?
Unfortunately, many of us have far from ideal levels of hormones. Why does this happen? It all comes down to our modern lifestyle. “We live in an incredibly polluted environment. We eat genetically modified food, laden with pesticides and fertilisers. We eat food processed for enhanced taste, ease of cooking or for longer shelf life. We eat exotic foods that are imported from halfway around the world. We pump our bodies with supplements, antibiotics and other drugs even when the situation does not call for it,” explains Aswini.
Also, our natural sleep cycle has been completely disrupted by our fast-paced way of living. “We are always stressed due to work and other factors. Also, a lot of people either drink or smoke — or do both. These vices are especially insidious. Both smoking and drinking wreak havoc on our hormones,” she says.
How can the imbalance be corrected?
So, what do we do about this? How do we re-establish a balance of our hormones? Aswini recommends adopting a more holistic lifestyle that is in harmony with nature. She recommends starting with the food we eat.
Signs and symptoms
Common hormonal conditions affecting both men and women could show up in one or more of the following ways:
A hump of fat between the shoulders
Unexplained, and sometimes sudden, weight loss
Muscle aches, tenderness, and stiffness
Pain, stiffness or swelling in of the joints
Increased or decreased heart rate
Increased sensitivity to cold or heat
Constipation or more frequent bowel movements
Decreased sex drive
Nervousness, anxiety or irritability
Purple or pink stretch marks
Focus on Diet
Eat wholesome, organic, local and seasonal foods
Prioritise nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, lentils and pulses
Have a balanced diet with adequate amounts of carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats
Eliminate refined sugar, alcohol and tobacco, and minimise caffeine intake.
An adult should consume at least 2-3 litres of water daily. Water is excellent for regulating pH and temperature, balancing hormones, and flushing out toxins from the body.
There are a host of lifestyle changes you can make to improve your hormonal balance.
Ensure you get quality sleep - at least eight hours every night.
Constant lack of sleep leads to a host of health problems such as mood swings, poor memory, weakened immunity, and risk of heart disease.
To facilitate good sleep, turn off all gadgets and electronic equipment at least 30 minutes before bedtime, and don’t drink tea or coffee after 6 pm.
Say No to stress
Stress is a silent killer. If you let it go unchecked, be prepared for a slew of adverse effects, including, but not limited to, weaker immunity, accelerated aging, weight gain and premature hair loss. Here are some tips that can help:
Take deep breaths from time to time
Spend more time with friends and family
Be disciplined. Plan your life so that you don’t have to deal with unnecessary stressors
Practice mindfulness. Focus 100% on what you’re doing at the moment...