Healthy hormones are responsible for so much – from moods and menopause, to sleep and hunger.
Healthy Hormones for Sleep: MELATONIN
‘When light levels drop in the evening, the pineal gland switches on the production of this sleep-inducing hormone,’ says our doctor and sleep expert. ‘It’s then released throughout the night, keeping you asleep until the morning.’
TAKE ACTION Get outside in the daylight for at least 20 minutes every day to keep levels of this hormone suppressed. Then in the hour before bed, avoid bright light, particularly the blue light from phones and other tech, which can stop melatonin and will disrupt your sleep/wake cycle. Make sure that your room is dark when you go to bed.
Hormones for Fat Burning: ADIPONECTIN
It helps your body use the glucose from food, boosts your metabolism, increases the rate at which your body breaks down fat and curbs your appetite. It works in synergy with insulin.
TAKE ACTION The more fat cells in your body, the less adiponectin you’ll release. Combine resistance training and lower calorie meals to achieve a leaner body and to produce more of this hormone.
Hormones for Weight Loss: GHRELIN AND LEPTIN
Ghrelin gives hunger signals. Leptin tells you when you’re full. Some experts even believe they are linked. Another vital hormone is insulin, which controls blood/sugar levels when you eat, moving glucose into cells for energy. If you don’t have enough insulin, or it isn’t effective, you may be diagnosed with diabetes. No lifestyle changes can lower your risk of Type 1 diabetes, but Type 2 is 95% of the time, linked to being overweight.
TAKE ACTION Eat regular meals with lots of wholegrain, carbohydrates and protein, best at suppressing ghrelin. Prioritise sleep. After a bad night’s kip, leptin levels will be lower and ghrelin higher, so you’re prone to eating more. If you’re diagnosed with diabetes, you’ll need to eat healthily, exercise regularly and have regular blood tests to ensure your blood glucose levels stay balanced.
Hormones for Fighting Disease : IRISIN
Scientists have recently discovered that the hormone irisin circulates in the body when you exercise. It switches on genes that convert white fat the type of fat that gets packed around your middle – and releases dangerous inflammatory chemicals, which raise your risk of illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer – into brown fat, which helps to burn calories.
TAKE ACTION Do more exercise. The more you do, the higher your levels of irisin. Early research suggests resistance training really ramps up levels, while cardio has less effect – so get lifting!
Healthy Hormones for Mood: SEROTONIN
It regulates mood and a lack of it has been linked to insomnia, binge eating and depression. The majority of the body’s serotonin is actually produced in the gut, with the rest made in the brain. Another important neurotransmitter is dopamine, a lack of which can lead to depression and fatigue.
TAKE ACTION A workout stimulates the release of dopamine and tryptophan, which your brain uses to make serotonin and the more vigorous the workout the better. You’ll benefit even more if you exercise outdoors as bright daylight stimulates serotonin production. Certain foods are also rich in tryptophan – try salmon, spinach and eggs. Having goals can also help stimulate dopamine, so mark small achievements and set bigger targets. Dopamine is all about reward-motivation, so praise and reward yourself for completing specific tasks.
Hormones for MENOPAUSE: OESTROGEN
It’s responsible for your female shape, characteristics and levels of it fall dramatically when you enter perimenopause (usually in your late 40’s) and menopause (in your early 50’s). This leads to hot flushes, drier skin and thinning hair.
TAKE ACTION Our health expert recommends foods containing plant oestrogens (phytoestrogens) which may help balance oestrogen levels. ‘Isoflavones are the most beneficial form of phytoestrogens,’ she says. ‘Tuck into tofu 100g gives you around 30mg of isoflavones. Other sources being soya beans or milk and isoflavone supplements. Ask your doctor about hormone replacement therapy.
Hormones for Energy: THYROXINE
Your thyroid gland, at the front of your neck, produces hormones such as thyroxine to regulate metabolism, but if it is underactive, everything slows, including energy levels. ‘Most cases are caused by the immune system attacking the thyroid gland and damaging it,’ explains our GP and Clinical Director. Too many hormones can cause an overactive thyroid, which also needs addressing.
TAKE ACTION Only accurate way of finding out whether you have a thyroid problem is via a blood test, so see your GP. ‘Early diagnosis is important,’ says Dr Steele. ‘Treatment – with daily hormone tablets to replace the hormones that your thyroid’s not making – usually works quickly!
Healthy Hormones for Stress: OXYTOCIN
Dubbed the ‘love hormone’ because it’s triggered by positive physical contact, it helps calm anxiety, lowers blood pressure and promotes a feeling of love and connection. ‘Oxytocin is synthesised in the brain after positive social interactions,’ says our neuroeconomist.
TAKE ACTION Make love, enjoy a massage, cuddle, or simply stroke the cat. Just behaving in a loving, kind way can boost levels in you and others. Research suggests meditation may help, too.
E363 – Healthy Hormones to Trick Your Health – www.diabetic.today