The delicate balance of hormones is key to maintaining optimal metabolic health. In this blog we will delve into to the connection between the two, exploring how hormonal imbalances can impact the metabolism and also provide some strategies to support a healthier metabolism.
There are 4 key hormones that play a big role in our metabolism, among them we have the thyroid as metabolic regulators, cortisol as the stress hormone, insulin as the blood sugar regulator and the hunger hormones (leptin and ghrelin). Lets talk a little about each one:
- Thyroid hormones: these regulate the metabolism by influencing rate at which cells use energy.
- Cortisol is released as a response to stress which can generate a positive and/or negative reaction on the metabolism. Chronic stress would promote fat storage and affect insulin sensitivity.
- Insulin helps the cells get energy from glucose, imbalances here can be due to poor dietary choices which can contribute to higher levels of inflammation and weight gain.
- Leptin, our satiety hormone letting us know when the body is full.
- Ghrelin, our appetite hormone, letting us know when we are hungry.
A disruption in any of those hormones can lead to problems with our metabolism, whether its reflected in low energy levels, cravings, weight gain and/or overeating.
Lets now talk about how we can support the body and those hormones for better metabolism:
- Prioritize Quality Sleep: Its not just the amount of hours but the ability to wake up feeling rested. Ideally you go to sleep before 11pm for better restorative sleep. Lack of sleep can lead to an imbalance in leptin and ghrelin leading to more cravings and appetite throughout the day.
- Eat Real Whole Foods: prioritizing non-processed foods and focusing on fresh produce and minimally processed foods (less than 5 ingredients). When there is enough protein, fiber and fat the blood sugar stays balances and hormones will be happy. Quality organic, grass-fed, free range, wild caught sources whenever possible.
- Daily Movement: even if its a 10-15 minute walk or if you enjoy other exercises such as yoga, pilates, running, weight training, zumba, etc. This will improve your metabolism and some will aid in the development of muscle which helps improve insulin sensitivity.
- Stay Hydrated: not just water intake but mineral and electrolytes for your cells to be hydrated properly. A lot of people mistake thirst for hunger.
- Incorporate Intermittent Fasting: allowing your body to rest from food for at least 12-14 hours is a must. Not only will your body be more efficient and you will have more energy but your inflammation levels and weight will appreciate it. Remember to vary your fasts and to allow for non-fasting days. For added benefits follow a high fat, low carb, moderate protein clean diet.
- Include Cold Therapy: whether its a cold shower or a cold plunge. It helps activate brown adipose tissue helping energy levels and improving metabolic health. It will also stimulate the release of thyroid hormones and neurotransmitters. If you aren’t ready for a full body immersion you can start with your face.
In conclusion by adopting lifestyle strategies that support hormonal balances you can optimize your metabolic function. Pick a recommendation to start with, take your time and now that small steps will add to big changes if there is consistency behind them.