The Sneaky Way a High Sugar Diet May Be Contributing To Hormone Imbalance
By Megan Roosevelt, RDN & Founder of HealthyGroceryGirl.com
The Role Hormones Play in our Body in Relation to Overall Health
Hormones are the chemical “messengers” of the body because they travel to different places in the body to perform specific functions. There are many different types of hormones in the body that are critical in many organ systems. Hormones have functions such as aiding in communication between cells and nerves, regulating growth and metabolism, as well as playing a critical role in sexual development and drive. Since hormones play such a huge role in how our body functions, if your hormones are out of balance this can greatly affect your overall health.
Sign of Hormonal Imbalance
Hormonal imbalance can occur during different points in life such as during your menstrual cycle, menopause, times of stress, lack of sleep, poor diet, etc. Hormonal imbalance can also occur if your endocrine glands are not functioning correctly. Some of the symptoms that may indicate a hormonal imbalance include: acne, PCOS, irregular cycle, anxiety, sleep troubles, headache and difficulty losing weight - just to name a few.
Lifestyle & Nutrition Factors That May Negatively Affect Hormone Health
As mentioned above, stress is one of the main lifestyle factors that can negatively impact hormone health. When you are stressed, your brain tells your body to release a surge of hormones such as adrenaline to help you fight or flee the stressful situation. Once your “stressful situation” has passed, your hormones return to normal. However, long-term chronic stress can disrupt your hormones' natural process, leading to different health problems. If your body is constantly in a state of stress with elevated adrenaline, cortisol and high blood pressure; this can put an individual at risk for heart disease, anxiety, cognition problems and weight gain.
Other lifestyle factors that can harm hormonal health are lack of sleep and lack of exercise, exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals, overconsumption of alcohol and smoking.
Diet and nutrition also play an important part in hormone balance. Some foods that can have a negative impact on hormones are added sugar, processed foods, high amounts of caffeine, high intakes of red meat and refined carbohydrates, such as white bread.
5 Wellness and Nutrition Tips for Supporting Hormone Health
1 .Flaxseeds: Flax has some incredible anti-inflammatory properties as well as containing phytoestrogens. These compounds help excrete excess estrogen from the body by binding to it. Add a tablespoon of ground flaxseed to your smoothie or homemade granola bar! Always consume ground flaxseeds to reap the most benefits, the body cannot digest whole flaxseeds and you’ll just excrete (aka poop) them out!
2. Sweet & Better for You Sugar: A diet high in sugar can overwork your adrenal glands and thyroid. However, you do not have to give up sweet foods in order to be healthy! Foods with natural sugar such as fruits, starchy vegetables and whole grains are great! When looking for a healthier added sugar, try Purecane! Purecane is an incredible swap for regular sugar because it is sugar-free, calorie-free, does not impact blood sugar levels, contains no artificial chemicals and also tastes great! I love adding Purecane to my afternoon tea or using it in baked treats! Need some inspiration? Head over to their recipe page to find your perfect guilt-free sweet treat!
3. Dark Leafy Greens: Greens have incredible health benefits because they are rich in vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. These nutrients nourish our organ systems that produce hormones, and the antioxidants dark leafy greens contain combat the damage to our cells that can occur during stress. Add a handful of spinach to a morning smoothie, add a handful of diced kale to your favorite pasta sauce or try adding some chopped bok choy to your favorite soup!
4. Coping Mechanisms for Stress: It’s unrealistic to live a stress-free life. However, we can learn ways to cope and manage our stress so that it’s just not so…. stressful! The key is to find what works best for you to bring a sense of calm and peace. Practicing meditation, going on a walk outside, stretching, reading a book, listening to peaceful music, taking a bath, talking to a friend or journaling are just a few stress-relieving habits we can implement.
5. Quality Sleep Every Night: Lack of sleep can increase your risk of hormonal imbalance. To support hormone health, aim to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night and try to keep a consistent schedule that your body can rely on. It can be hard to “shut off” your brain when you’re feeling stressed. If this is you, try implementing a de-stressing routine before bed by writing down what’s on your mind and any to-do list items you need to remember for the next day. Try to not look at screens (such as your phone) at least 30 minutes to an hour before bed, avoid caffeine past 2 pm, have a completely dark room, and find a temperature that makes you feel comfortable.
Have a happy and healthy day!
You can stay connected with Megan Roosevelt, RDN on Instagram at @HealthyGroceryGirl, watch recipe videos at YouTube.com/HealthyGroceryGirl or visit her recipe and wellness blog at HealthyGroceryGirl.com
Photos by Brooke Lark on Unsplash, Nathan Cowley from Pexels, Dose Juice on Unsplash, and Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash