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Our endocrine system is an amazing messenger that keeps everything up and running with chemical fuels that are more powerful than we can imagine. They regulate our metabolism, energy levels, growth rates, reproductive health and our responses to everything around us. Nutrition plays a role in regulating our hormones, so for optimum health we need to be aware of how some foods can affect this network of “instant messaging” that runs throughout our bodies.
I frequently hear people say that they have trouble getting enough protein. They tend to fill up on carbohydrate laden foods and as a result, are never satisfied and tend to overeat. Adequate protein is necessary for hormone production. There are 20 amino acids, the building blocks of protein, that are necessary for human life. We can produce 11 of those inside our bodies but must get the rest through what we eat. In order to insure adequate protein intake we need to get about 0.6-0.8 grams per pound of body weight. If you are a weight trainer, you need more, about 0.8-1.2 grams per pound of body weight to insure the strength and muscle gains that you need and want. Some protein will build hormones and some will build enzymes that act as chemical catalysts and other protein will become muscle cells. Eating protein at every meal will reduce your level of ghrelin, a hormone that makes you hungry. Experts recommend getting a minimum of 20-30 grams of protein at every meal. (1)
Eat to Stop Eating
Eating anti-inflammatory foods will increase how well you respond to leptin, the appetite suppressor hormone. Fatty fish, nuts and leafy greens are good anti-inflammatory foods that can improve your sensitivity to leptin and help you stop eating sooner.
Decreased Thyroid Function?
Thyroid hormones determine the speed of your metabolism. Eggs, cranberries, milk, lima beans, potatoes, ocean seafood, dried plums or prunes and yogurt are all good sources of iodine which is necessary for good thyroid function. Always consult your doctor for dietary guidance if you have known thyroid problems and especially if you take medications for thyroid function. These drugs are powerful and the thyroid is a very powerful part of your endocrine system.
A Disturbing Trend
I am becoming increasingly aware of an ever increasing number of young women with PCOS, polycystic ovary syndrome. PCOS is an insulin resistant condition that may be affected by diets high in sugar and refined carbohydrates. At David’s Way we always advise you to avoid these foods. Sugar has no known benefits, promotes insulin resistance and packs on the pounds that add additional insult to your endocrine system. Even simple carbohydrates that do not contain sugar may increase your chances of insulin resistance. I have known of young ladies who want children to be told that PCOS would impact their fertility and yet still, they would not make these necessary dietary changes for their health. There are some studies that show a relationship between PCOS and increased risk of endometrial and breast cancer and cardiovascular problems. (1) Sugar and simple carbs cannot possibly be worth the risks involved in eating them.
Medium Chain Triglycerides are good fats that may decrease insulin resistance. So often people avoid fat, thinking that all fat is bad. We are supposed to eat some good fat. These powerhouses are found in palm and coconut oil.
Always avoid transfats. There is nothing good about them. They are found in baked goods, microwave popcorn, frozen pizza, fast food, vegetable shortenings, coffee creamers, canned biscuits and canned frostings along with other sources. Read Nutrition Facts on your food purchases and avoid these troublemakers.
Monounsaturated fats found in olive oil and nuts are believed to increase insulin sensitivity. I have coconut oil every day in my protein shake and am not hungry for hours afterwards. The healthy fat and protein punch is satisfying and supports muscle development and maintenance for my heavy lifting sessions. I use the liquid oil and it mixes right into my shake easily and gives it a velvety texture.
Naturally Balance Your Female Hormones
These tips that help balance other hormones will help balance your female hormones. Eat good whole foods and avoid sugar and simple carbs and you will immediately notice a difference in the way you feel, especially if you normally eat foods containing empty calories.
We have so much control over our health including our hormones. We can never have good hormone levels if we don’t give our bodies what they need to make them. When we eat empty calories, foods devoid of nutrition, we set ourselves up for disaster. Take control and reap the benefits of good nutrition today.