Hormones are the chemical messengers of our bodies, responsible for regulating many important processes that can impact both our mental and physical health. For instance, our appetite, mood and weight can all be impacted by our hormones. Although our bodies are designed to produce the right hormones in the right amounts needed to keep us healthy - diet, lifestyle and age can all have an impact on hormone production.
In terms of diet, there are lots of things we can do to naturally balance our hormonal health. From protein to iodine, read on for our top tips on eating for your endocrine system.
Eat protein at every meal
Protein is an essential building block within our body, including for a specific group of hormones, known as peptide hormones – these are the hormones responsible for regulating appetite[i]. Eating enough protein helps to regulate appetite by decreasing the levels of the hunger hormone, and stimulating production of the hormones that signal to your brain that you are full[ii]. One study even found that eating a high protein breakfast resulted in weight loss, due to the increased feelings of fullness in participants[iii].
Optimum protein intake is thought to be around 20-30g per meal[iv], try and vary the sources that you get this from – along with animal sources such as meat and fish, plant-based foods such as beans, pulses and lentils are all great sources of protein too.
Ensure you’re eating enough
With holiday season upon us, some of us may be feeling daunted at the prospect of baring all on the beach, and may even be considering cutting calories in a last ditch attempt to lose some excess weight. However, research shows that restricting calorie intake often has the opposite effect long-term, since it increases the production of our stress hormone, cortisol[v]. Not only can cortisol cause weight gain, it can have an impact on many other areas of our health including our mood, digestion and sleep.
If you are counting calories or trying to reduce food intake, it’s always best to get a nutritionist’s guidance on a healthy and sustainable way to do this. Generally, if you’re feeling low in energy, irritable or constantly hungry, it’s likely you’re not eating enough.
Keep your gut healthy
We’re all becoming increasingly aware of the importance of gut health, as it impacts so many areas of our wellbeing – including our hormonal balance. There’s a number of reasons why; our gut absorbs the nutrients from the food that we eat in order to make hormones, it contains a group of bacteria that are responsible for metabolising and eliminating estrogen from the body, and it houses a huge percentage of our immune system - which if inflamed can result in hormonal imbalance.
Incorporating probiotics and prebiotics into our diet is one of the best ways that we can help our gut to remain healthy. Probiotics work by providing our gut with healthy bacteria, and can be found in fermented foods such as kefir, kimchi and sauerkraut. Prebiotics provide the nutrients for the probiotics to feed off of – prebiotics include high fibre foods such as oats and wholegrains, fruits such as apples and bananas, and seeds including chia and flax.
Up your micronutrient intake
Micronutrients are the nutrients that our bodies need in small amounts (but that still have a huge impact!) such as vitamins, minerals and trace elements. Certain micronutrients are essential in the production of hormones, and if we’re not consuming enough then our body is physically unable to produce the hormones that it needs. One of these micronutrients is iodine – an essential component of the thyroid hormones T3 and T4. In fact, iodine is so integral to these hormones, that the 3 and 4 in the names actually refers to how many iodine atoms are present.
If we’re not consuming enough iodine (which many of us aren’t) then we can put ourselves at risk of developing an underactive thyroid, which has all kind of unwanted side effects including weight gain, tiredness and fatigue and dry skin. The main sources of iodine include white fish and dairy, so incorporating these into your diet daily will ensure you’re meeting your bodies requirements. Alternatively, the only plant-based source of iodine is from seaweed.
How can I include seaweed in my diet?
Understandably, not everybody knows how to incorporate high quality seaweed into their meal plans. That’s why Doctor Seaweed’s Weed & Wonderful® seaweed capsules are perfect for anybody trying to increase their iodine intake, balance their hormonal health and improve their wider wellness.
Just one capsule provides enough iodine to meet your recommended daily intake, making it easy and convenient for you to feel the wonderful benefits of seaweed for yourself.
View the full range right here.