Why keeping your Hormones Happy is Vital for your health
Humans are synergistic, we work better when EVERYTHING is healthy and balanced. The biggest take away from nutrition I can give you is that if you get your palate right, all the other senses fall into line. In fact everything does. Everything we ingest, from food we eat, to what we drink, to what to take in via our senses, what we watch and what we hear, affects the inner balance of our biological terrain.
For example watching TV whilst eating has a bearing on how well we digest our food. Watching an action film or a tense thriller will trigger cortisol and adrenaline, your fight or flight response. It doesn’t have to be something you can feel, like a competition or a grading, but believe me the response is there.
The biological response to fight or flight is prepare for those very things. From that trigger your body shuts the stomach down, taking blood away from digestion to the extremities ready to flee or to wage war. That one thing stops you from digesting the meal fully and you will not get the nutrients from the food that you think you did.
Technology is coming on in leaps and bounds and some of it enhances your life experience, however, we are still a child of nature and our systems work in a completely different way and so sometimes it works against us.
From what I stated before, the hormonal response makes a big difference.
There is a lot to be said for family’s sitting around a table having a conversation instead of sitting round a TV mindlessly eating. It literally affects what you digest and what nutrients your body can garner from the food.
Hormones Effects Behaviour
Hormones are what controls our behaviours and they are directly affected by the food that we eat, the air that we breathe and what we drink. All of these things are needed to create the hormones that control our bodily functions and processes. If you feed yourself rubbish then guess what, more than likely you will feel the same. Your body can only work with what you provide it and it does its best. But if you continually ignore the signs of your body subtly telling you what it requires, you are going to get sick, fat and tired pretty quickly.
It has never been easier to eat the right foods, we are no longer restricted to fruits and vegetables at certain times of the year, there really is an abundance and there lies the blessing and the curse. Unfortunately it is easier to eat the readymade processed garbage available now, simply because people think all that matters is how full you feel, not what fuel you put in. If you are caught short and feel hunger, the automatic response these days seems to be to buy whatever you can from a service station or the nearest shop.
You will not wither away by waiting an hour for a meal or missing it. Most often you are not hungry, you are dehydrated, and if you are not taking water on board frequently ( a general rule of thumb is 1 litre for every 50lb of bodyweight, more if you are training) you can get hunger pangs. Your brain doesn’t have a separate message for hunger and thirst, it relies on you to know the difference, or at least realise what you haven’t had much of!
The first thing to do is obvious, be prepared. Most people are in too much of a rush to think that way, they have programmed themselves to live life on the edge, to have no time, to be reactive instead of proactive. To try and do a million things at a million miles an hour, sound familiar?
YOU HAVE TO SLOW DOWN!
Everything from your how much you try and do in a day to how much time to you spend chewing your food (yes that is important too!) affects how you feel.
You have to reduce the stress!
Every time you react to stress, your brain is in fight or flight mode and so releases cortisol and adrenaline. Now this is fine if there is a real danger like back in the day when a sabre toothed tiger is chasing you or you are participating in a competition or something you want this response to work for you.
However it’s more likely to be work/financial/relationship stress that releases these hormones and left unchecked wreak havoc with your body. Cortisol is catabolic and will break down lean muscle tissue for energy to feed the stress response.
When your brain perceives threat (stress) it reacts, it doesn’t want you to think about the danger, remember the tiger? It looks at what you stored the last time a similar stress response was triggered and immediately does that. Whatever you did the last time in that same stressful situation with the same emotion you will react accordingly. So if that is with a tub of ben and Jerry’s guess what your brain tells you to do!
Your brain works with prediction, as long as it can predict an outcome then you will be less stressed. But here lies one of the biggest things we as humans do. We are the only species on this planet to look to the future. Not only that, but we continuously try to control and predict something we can’t possibly to. We allow our thoughts to become our reality. We stress about things we have no control over.
The best way to avoid stress is to reduce it. Understand what stresses you and catch it before it takes you down a path of emotional eating.
The Gut – Brain Connection
To have a fully functioning well-nourished brain, first you need a fully functional digestive system. If you cannot digest the nutrients the brain needs to function, then you will be left wanting. Make no mistake, the brain in TOTALLY dependent on what you eat and digest to function. If you put in poor nutrients you will get poor brain function.
Our digestive systems are also known as the second brain. It turns out that both our gut and brain originate from the same tissue that divides in early foetal development.
One becomes the central nervous system (the brain) and the second becomes the enteric nervous system (the gut) but both remain connected via the vagus nerve. The connection is real. Not only that, but nearly every chemical found in the brain has been found in the gut, including hormones and neurotransmitters. Both the Brain and the gut share the same amount of nerve endings (about 100 million)
It has been proven that poor food choices and damage to the digestive system affects the brain and our behaviour. So it stands to reason that continual poor food choices leading to continual abuse of the body affects how you think, feel and behave.
For Example, the toxic effects of gluten and casein (derived from wheat and dairy) as so powerful that it can lead to poor brain function and can include anything from “brain fog” to depression.
Hormones are profound orchestrators of all of life’s processes in your body. They are the chemical messengers that relays signals from cell to cell. There are various types of hormones that have various functions.
- Anabolic hormones like testosterone and growth hormone which increase muscle mass and decrease our fat stores
- Catabolic hormones such as cortisol and glucagon, which break down muscle and convert to energy during times of stress or calorie restriction
- Lipogenis hormones such as oestrogen and insulin which stores fat. (insulin can all aid fat loss too, it wears two hats)
- Lipolytic hormones such as glucagon, growth hormone, testosterone and thyroid hormones that help us burn fat.
From a training and health perspective, essentially hormones tell the body whether to burn fat or accumulate it and whether to build muscle or break it down for energy.
That is why maintaining an optimal hormonal balance is imperative for optimal health. The entire endocrine (hormonal) system is interconnected. Any hormone imbalance impacts on all other hormones. This is why hormonal medications fall short, they focus on one hormone without taking into account the rest. As I mentioned at the beginning, our bodies are synergistic, it works together as a complete system, if one hormone is out of balance, and all hormones are affected.
Hormones are so potent that they operate at parts per billion or even parts per trillion. Imagine dropping a teaspoon of salt into 1000 Olympic sized swimming pools. Our bodies detect that level of hormonal activity. Their effect is profound.
Keeping the Balance
The correct nutrients are vital in creating the correct hormonal balance and have an array of roles to play in the body, helping to support immunity, detoxification, digestion, absorption, energy production, fat loss, muscle gain, mood, and sleep as well as helping the body prepare.
Nutrients such as anti oxidants, amino acids, beneficial fats, vitamins and minerals and carbohydrates all play a part in that optimal hormonal balance and health.
Removing foods that are toxic to the body is also vital. It as much as what we remove as to what we replenish and reinforce that counts.
Restrict or better yet remove the following…
Get more of
Fresh Fruits and vegetables
Nuts and seeds
Basic principles of a good diet…
- Remove Wheat and dairy to reduce the toxic load on your liver.
- Eat organic foods where possible, or wash/peel your fruits and vegetables e.g. pesticides, herbicides, fungicides. They are endocrine disrupters, then will affect how your hormones work.
- Eat deep sea fish, fish caught in the wild, not farmed,
- Cook from fresh wherever possible, make a point of doing this
- Use organic full fat butter, cold pressed extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil for cooking.
- Eat wild game, oily and white fish, nuts, seeds, berries, fresh fruits and vegetables. Go for as many colours as you can to get the best variety of nutrients. (choose green, red or yellow foods every meal)
- Avoid Alcohol, cigarettes and refined sugars/carbohydrates and confectionary. This will reduce your intake of nutrients and rob the nutrients you do have. Give your body a chance
- Remove any foods that upset your digestion, again wheat and dairy products are prime suspects here.
- Try and eat as many different things as possible, vary your meals, get the widest possible amount of nutrients.
- Limit or remove dried fruit, it is just concentrated sugar.
- Remove trans fats from your diet.
- Make sure you are drinking enough clean water, filtered or bottled. Avoid tap water.
- Add some raw foods in your diet every day.
- Remove yourself from technology from eating. Do not watch the TV, be mindful of how stress can alter your digestion.
The better the supply of nutrients to your body, the better your body will function and the better you will feel.
To your strength and Health