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How Hormonal Balance Can Bring Tremendous Changes To Your Health

How Hormonal Balance Can Bring Tremendous Changes To Your Health

When it comes to hormonal imbalance, our minds go straight to teens going through puberty, women who are pregnant or having their period. We envision uncontrollable emotions that usually involve crying, anger and frustration, but in fact, this is a huge misconception as a hormonal imbalance can affect both men and women and can be the underlying cause for a lot of our health issues without us even knowing it.

Hormones play a major role in the way we feel, act and think so when we suffer from health issues or are looking to improve ourselves through losing weight or enhance cognitive skills, the first thing to take a look at is how our hormone balance is shaping up.

What Are The Symptoms of a Hormonal Imbalance?

Hormones are the chemical messengers that travel via our blood streams to our tissues and organs, and tell them what to do and how to function. In essence, the hormone balance in our bodies is very sensitive. That is why an imbalance can affect us greatly and manifest as common health issues and more stubborn ones such as easy weight gain.

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The most common indicators are:

  • Headaches: regular headaches or migraines.
  • Mood swings: these aren’t just apparent in menstruating and pregnant women, men often get mood swings that could be attributed to a hormone imbalance including anxiety, irritability and depressive episodes.
  • Weight gain: Men who gain weight easily around their abdomen, hips and breast area could be indicating they have a hormonal imbalance.
  • Sweating: hot flushes and finding you sweat a lot more either during the day or night can be a sign.
  • Cravings: constant cravings of a certain food or food group.
  • Digestion problems: feeling bloated or gassy after eating, stomach problems and slow digestion.
  • Insomnia and poor sleep patterns: the inability to sleep soundly and deeply could be down to cortisol imbalances that lead to difficulties in getting a good night’s rest.
  • Memory loss: a hormonal imbalance can affect the way our brains function and can lead to forgetfulness.
  • Fatigue: energy levels can take a significant dive and you are left feeling constantly tired throughout the day.

Most of these symptoms can be found equally in both men and women and it’s due to either the under-production or overproduction of different hormones at one time. In women, estrogen and progesterone are the common hormones affected while in men it’s usually either a testosterone deficiency or excess estrogen. Both can cause specific symptoms such as painful breasts, low blood sugar and even infertility and cysts in women, with hair loss, erectile dysfunction and loss of muscles mass in men.

What Are The Common Causes of Hormonal Imbalance?

  • Lack of exercise: regular exercise keeps our hormones in check and lowers the risk of a cortisol imbalance caused by stress.
  • Sedentary lifestyle: sitting down too much in the space of a day such as at work on a computer and sitting watching TV for hours can wreak havoc for our hormones.
  • Diet: what we eat and drink on a regular basis weighs heavily on how our hormone’s function.
  • Being overweight: obesity and weight issues can put our hormones out of whack.
  • Genetics: sometimes it can be down to good old genetics which makes us more prone to hormone imbalances.

How To Combat a Hormonal Imbalance With Diet and Exercise

It’s important to visit a doctor to eliminate any further causes to your health issues. But if you find your headaches are getting worse or you feel generally down or irritable on a regular basis, then it’s worth changing your diet and exercise regime to see if it makes a difference.

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1. Eat Healthy Fats

Healthy fats such as coconut oil and fats found in avocados and fish can help towards putting your hormones back on track. Our bodies need various fats to create hormones so don’t restrict fat in your diet but try to eat more healthy alternatives rather than saturated. Healthy fats boost anti-inflammatory levels, promote weight loss and boosts metabolism.

Omega-3 and omega-6 fats are also essential for hormone production but it’s important to get a certain balance of both. Omega-3 is found in fish, nuts, seeds and legumes and can be eaten on a regular basis. Omega-6 should be avoided a bit more but can be taken in the form of GLA (gamma-linoleic acid) which can be found in supplements such as primrose oil.

2. Exercise Regularly

Exercising is crucial for a healthy lifestyle but when it comes to our hormones, it’s one of the best ways to keep a good balance. It reduces inflammation, lowers stress levels, boosts metabolism, promotes better sleep and regulates your appetite with all of these helping to level out any imbalance we may have.

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Doing short but high-intensity interval workouts are best but be careful not to over do it – a burst of exercise rather than a long, drawn-out session is enough to ignite the right amount of hormone production all round.

3. Reduce Intake of Caffeine, Alcohol and Carbs

Caffeine and alcohol can really affect the brain and the way it produces hormones. Stimulants stay in our system for up to 6 hours increasing heart rate with caffeine being able to up your cortisol levels and causing imbalances. Alcohol affects the liver which is a major organ for hormone production so try to limit the amount of alcohol you consume.

Carbohydrates have a huge impact on insulin production which, in turn, affects the way your hormones travel around the body. Avoid carb-heavy meals and watch your sugar intake.

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4. Beware of Milk and Beef Products

While these products are healthy to eat, it’s important to be aware that many farmers these days inject growth hormones to their cattle in order to boost production. Make sure you choose organic milk and beef products to ensure they are free from artificial hormones that can disrupt your own.

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    Jenny Marchal

    Freelance Writer

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    8 Things to Watch for If You’re Considering Being Vegetarian

    8 Things to Watch for If You’re Considering Being Vegetarian

    Vegetarianism has been around for a long time, finding favor with many people, including Pythagoras clear back around 580 B.C. It’s been presented as one of the most healthy diets around, including being touted by the Egyptians to the point of abstaining from meat and animal clothing due to karmic beliefs. The vegetarian society (vegsoc.org) defines vegetarianism as:

    “Someone who lives on a diet of grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits with, or without, the use of dairy products and eggs. A vegetarian does not eat any meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish* or by-products of slaughter.”

    While it’s pretty obvious that there are multiple benefits to following a vegetarian diet, it’s always good to be informed about the cons of this dietary choice as well.

    Outlined below are several things you might want to be aware of before you say good-bye to meat forever. Whether you are a current vegetarian, or contemplating making a shift, keep in mind these 8 things to keep yourself healthy.

    1. You could suffer from B12 vitamin deficiency

    The B vitamins are especially important for stress management, adrenal health, and brain function. Vegetarians in particularly are at risk for B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 is attached to the protein in animal products and without enough B12 you can suffer from depression, fatigue, and an inability to concentrate.

    Due to its attachment to animal proteins, B12 is the hardest for vegetarians to obtain when they don’t eat dairy or eggs in their diet. This essential little vitamin can be found in some algae and has been added to some yeast, but research doesn’t currently provide enough information to say whether or not these forms of B12 are of good quality and can provide adequate supplementation.

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    The body is unable to make this vitamin, meaning it has to be taken in through food or supplementation. Essential for making red blood cells, DNA, nerves and various other function in the body, a Harvard Health Medical report in January of 2013 found symptoms of a B12 deficiency can present in sneaky ways including depression, paranoia, delusion, and loss of taste and smell.

    2.  You could suffer from higher states of anxiety/depression, lower sense of well-being

    According to a CBS Atlanta report, vegetarians suffered from a higher rate of anxiety and depression than their counterparts. Read the full report here. Depression and/or anxiety can be a result of many possible deficiencies including essential vitamins and amino acids you can find only in meat products, including Omega-3s from wild caught salmon.

    Without the correct supplementation and proper understanding of diet, including the importance of micro and macro nutrients, depression and anxiety can become a serious problem, bringing down the overall health and well-being of vegetarians.

    Even though reports on health and lifestyle show vegetarians have a lower BMI and lower consumption of alcohol and drugs, it also shows they suffer from more chronic illnesses and more visits to the doctor than their meat eating counterparts.

    3. You could suffer from excess weight

    When you go vegetarian it opens up a lot of food, but just because there isn’t any meat in front of you, it doesn’t mean it’s necessary healthy. Though pizza and beer technically fall under the vegetarian diet, it’s not a healthy choice for your waist line.

    Just because being a vegetarian is associated with a healthier lifestyle in many cases, doesn’t mean it’s always true. Making bread and pasta your staples and not understanding where your protein sources should be coming from, can pack on body fat, which increases your chances of health issues such as diabetes and chronic inflammation.

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    If the choice to go vegetarian happens on a whim without the proper understanding of food control, portion, and nutritionally dense alternatives you can find yourself reaching for vegetarian foods, which could cause serious problems down the road. Nuts are a good example, but just because something is touted as healthy, it doesn’t mean, your should eat it in excess.

    Eating too many calories in fat will still cause you to gain weight. Eating too many calories in carbs will cause you to gain weight. Eating too many calories in protein will cause you to gain weight. See a pattern here? Not to mention you’ll miss out on important nutrients the body needs by over-eating in one area and under-eating in another. Re-read number 2.

    4. You could have a higher risk of heart disease

    Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables should be a goal we all strive for, but when you cut out meat, you also cut out what is known as complete protein, which you find in animal by-products. Complete means more than just the essential amino acids, it means those amino acids contain dietary sulfur. Without enough dietary sulfur, which is found almost exclusively in fish and pasture feed grass beef, the body will struggle with the biological activities of both protein and enzymes.

    The effects cascade downward, effecting bones, joints, tissues, and even metabolic issues. In short, a low intake of sulfur associated with a vegetarian diet can result in high blood levels of homocysteine, which may lead to blood clots in your arteries, blood clots raise your risk of stroke and heart attack. To read the full report click here.

    5. You could suffer from low cholesterol

    I know, at first you’re thinking, wait, low cholesterol is a good thing. Yes, it is, when it’s LDL cholesterol, which you get from eating an unhealthy diet, but low HDL (good cholesterol) can cause serious health issues. HDL, according to the mayo clinic, is in every cell in our body and can help fend off heart disease, not enough of it though, and too much LDL can go the other way, will be building up plaque in the arteries and leading to heart disease.

    Cholesterol, the good kind, is actually vitally important to the making of every steroid hormone in the body! There are six, and without cholesterol the body is unable to convert hormones, and it can cause damage in the endocrine system.

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    A vegetarian without a balanced diet, meaning enough protein, enough veggies, and enough good fats, could disrupt his or her adrenals, which are directly connected to the endocrine system and the body’s ability to make and synthesize the hormones your body needs. The six major hormones in the body help do everything from metabolizing carbohydrates, to the electrolyte balance, to making sure if you’re a woman you can carry a healthy baby through pregnancy.

    6. You could suffer from lower bone density and osteoporosis.

    Osteoporosis, the disease where the bones get thinner, weaker, and fractures become a high risk with day to day movements. It’s often associated with the older generation, but your risk for osteoporosis increases with a lower bone density. Bone density can be directly related to diet and lifestyle, along with many other factors.

    When it comes to eating a vegetarian diet it’s possible to miss getting enough of the right nutrients, causing the bones to begin to break down. If your vegetarian diet isn’t balanced and providing you with the correct nutrients and the means to absorb the correct nutrients, your body could begin to break down.

    Recently, Professor Tuan Nguyen of Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research led a review of both Australian and Vietnamese research around the bone density of vegetarian versus their meat eating counterparts. Helping Professor Nguyen was Dr. Ho-Pham Thuc Lan from Pham Ngoc Thac University of Medicine in Vietnam. The review was designed to sort though years of research surrounded by discrepancies and inadequate clinical data.

    At the end of the review, with vegetarianism rising to around 5% of the populace in the western continents, and with wide spread osteoporosis reports – 2 million in Australia and closer to 54 million in America – the decrease in bone density of vegetarians is a serious issue which needs to be addressed, if you’ve cut meat and animal by-products out of your life.

    7. You could be at a higher risk for colorectal cancer

    Cancer seems to be running rampant through America, and it’s within everyone’s best interest to do all they can to keep their body healthy and happy to prevent cancer from finding a place to grow. In most studies it’s been found vegetarians are at lower risk for cancer, but a European Oxford study with over 63 thousand men and women in the United Kingdom found the risk for colorectal cancer higher in vegetarians than in meat-eaters.

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    Extra care needs to be taken when establishing a diet to ensure the body is receiving and able to up take all the important nutritional benefits and requirements from food.

    8. You could end up eating more processed food

    Depending on how deep you choose to go as a vegetarian, it could create the need to substitute a lot of food and recipe ingredients in your diet, but what happens when you cut out meat, eggs, and dairy and your recipe calls for meat, eggs, and/or dairy? You have to end up using a “healthy” vegetarian alternative which include stabilizers, thickeners, and various other ingredients you can’t pronounce.

    Lauren from Empowered Substance puts it into a great perspective with her comparison of Earth Balance, a vegetarian approved butter replacement compared to butter. She points out the ingredients in Earth Balance consist of: Palm fruit oil, canola oil, safflower oil, flax oil, olive oil, salt, natural flavor, pea protein, sunflower lecithin, lactic acid, annatto color. Meanwhile, the ingredient list in butter, is much shorter. It’s butter.

    That’s only one example. To appeal to the vegetarian lifestyle food manufacturers have found alternatives which fall under vegetarian, but aren’t necessarily healthy for you. Consider baked goods, which though vegetarian can be filled with more sugars and binders than regular baked goods with diary products. It’s the same with vegetarian items like mac and cheese, without using real cheese you may just be getting oil and thickeners, without even the smallest amount of nutritional value.

    The reality is, most vegetarian substitutes contain the same junky alternatives which even meat eaters should be avoiding to remain happy and healthy.

    On one final note, whichever lifestyle you choose to work with, remember anything in excess – including protein and animal by products – isn’t healthy for the body. It takes a wide spectrum of food and nutrients to keep the beautiful body you travel around in all day running in prime condition.

     

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