Although you can't see them, hormones are an essential part of your wellbeing. The finely controlled endocrine system helps to manage your concentration, mood, sex drive, appetite and much more. When your hormone levels go haywire, they can wreak havoc on your body systems. Getting the balance right is key to feeling good, so here are a few key pointers to keep your hormones in check.
I'm feeling down before my period. Why? Fluctutating female hormones.
Making some dietary changes could help to effectively blasy away PMS symptoms (caused by fluctuations in oestrogen and progesterone). The most important dietary change you can make is to keep your blood-sugar levels steady. The higher your sugar & caffeine intake the more severe your symptoms are likely to be. If possible cut out sugar and caffeine completely. Try to eat every three hours, as this prevents your blood sugar levels from dropping and stops the release of stress hormones.
Key Foods: If you crave chocolate when your period is due, you may be low in magnesium. Dark green leafy veg, good quality dark chocolate are both good sources of magnesium. Allow yourself a couple of squares to conquer cravings and magnesium levels.
I feel tired and hungry all the time. Why? An imbalance in the hormones leptin & ghrelin.
Eating well around the clock is key to keeping your energy levels regulated. Eating little and often will help to keep appetite hormones leptin & ghrelin balanced to offset fatigue.
Key Foods: Ensure you have a small meal every 2-3 hours that contains protein. Eat breakfeast, lunch and dinner, plus one snack mid morning and one mid afternoon. Ensure the carbohydrates that you eat are unrefined. In general terms, this means going for whole and brown type rather than white. This will stop those rollercoaster highs and cravings for sweet foods.
I'm stressed out. Why? Elevated levels of adrenaline & cortisol.
Stress is a part of daily life. Millions of years ago, things were completely different. Just like wild animals, we would feel stress when we needed to run away or fight if threatened - with our bodies releasing adrenaline and cortisol whenever we perceived danger. These days however, many of us reach a state of chronic stress. Our bodies can't distinguish between missed appointments, out of control debt or truly life-threatening stress. Chronic stress can lead to adrenal exhaustion, lower immunity, anxiety and chronic diseases.
Key Foods: Stress and anxiety can be fuelled by eating the wrong foods. When the body is stressed it can crave sweet foods such as chocolate. Although these foods may give you a temporary lift by raising your blood sugar, in the longer term they will act against you by putting more strain on the adrenal glands as they try to keep your blood sugar levels balanced. Stick to snacks that don't elevate blood sugar levels quickly, such as nuts, as these contain some protein and good fats that will reduce your cravings.