Staying fit and healthy becomes more important as we age, but it’s not just about being aerobically fit! It’s also about take care of the hormone balance in our bodies.
Hormones act as signaling molecules for a range of processes in the body. This includes metabolism, gene regulation, circulation, excretion and a range of other physiological processes.
Unfortunately, the word “hormones” has been hijacked a little and is often thought of as a female issue. But the management of hormones, their correct balance and their regulation are just as important for men.
Stress impacts hormone balance
I posted earlier this week a recent study which showed prolonged stress (over 15 years) has been implicated in five different types of cancers. Hormones in their role of keeping the body in balance are also important in health. For example, oestrogen and cortisol have a close interrelationship. Cortisol is the “fight or flight” hormone. Initially the body will produce cortisol in preference to oestrogen and other sex hormones, but over time with prolonged stress cortisol imbalance can occur, leading to an imbalance of oestrogen and reduced immunity. Imbalance of oestrogen has been implicated in a range of illnesses, including breast and prostate cancer.
Five steps for 2017
So for 2017 think of overall health, not just physical health. Here’s five things you can do to support your overall hormone balance:
- Time Out: Life is stressful. Some of this stress is necessary and good for us. Prolonged stress is the problem. So if you are under stress at work or at home, carve out some time for you. This time should allow the opportunity to turn off and think of other things. Do something you enjoy whether that is walking, painting, singing or meditation. It really doesn’t matter. What is important is giving your head time out.
- Take a step back: Life is reactive and fast. You need to be able to take a step back and slow that cortisol response. This will only happen by timetabling this time. Otherwise it will always be a “I’ll do that tomorrow” job.
- Start cooking: We’re all busy, but cooking for yourself doesn’t have to take any longer than fast food. Fish can cook in 20 minutes – pop it in the oven and by the time you have changed from work, had a shower and checked your emails it will be ready. Eggs, stir fries, salads are all quick and help you avoid processed foods. Or if you are very organized, make some soups or stews at the weekend and freeze. Organisation is key in terms of shopping and freezing. See point 2 above!
- Support hormonal balance: Choose foods to support your hormonal balance – beetroot, cabbage, broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts, all help the liver to do its job of clearing excess toxins from the body. Exercise has also been shown to help balance hormones.
- Change to Glass: Some plastics have been shown to have “endocrine disrupting” properties. This means they can have an effect on your hormones and disrupt excretion or take up of the hormones by the body. Use glass bottles instead of plastic. Never leave water in plastic bottles in a heated car or room and choose BPA free plastics.