Supporting major processes like digestion, metabolic function, reproductive health and so much more – hormones are a catalyst for many crucial functions in the body and in order to have great energy, better sleep and a better quality of life – you need to prioritize hormonal health.
Optimize your sleep
Your entire body is essentially a ticking clock. While there are different hormones and body systems that are most active at varying times, they all work together in an organized way to perform critical functions that regulate your sleep/wake cycle.
Key hormones like cortisol and melatonin work in opposition to help regulate your sleep/wake cycle, and any disruption to the balance of these hormones can disrupt your sleep (and in reverse, any disruption to your sleep can offset the balance of these hormones).
Tips to optimize sleep:
- Switch your devices to night mode: Exposure to blue light throughout the day and before you go to bed can be detrimental for your sleep – but there is a way to reduce your exposure to artificial light without disrupting your routine. Switching all devices onto ‘night mode’ when it starts to get dark outside will help your eyes adjust to your environment, making it easier for you to fall asleep when you need to.
- Morning sunlight: Getting sunlight in your eyes first thing in the morning helps regulate your sleep/wake cycle and can be instrumental for your mental and physical wellbeing. The reason that doing this in the morning is so important is because it triggers the release of cortisol – which in turn supports the onset of melatonin later on in the day that helps you get to sleep at night.
Cortisol plays an important role in the body’s stress response. Produced by the adrenal glands, this stress hormone is crucial for responding to stress and maintaining physiological balance. When the brain senses stress of any kind, a signal is sent to the adrenal glands to produce and release cortisol – which acts like your body’s built in alarm system. And while this response is necessary and healthy, it can become dysfunctional if cortisol is produced in excess.
Cortisol is the hormone that (ideally) gives us a burst of energy that wakes us up in the morning. It follows a daily pattern of rising in the morning to get us moving for the day ahead, and falling at night to help us get a good night's sleep. But cortisol can fall out of this pattern if we are exposed to ongoing stress or poor stress management, excessive exercise, poor nutrition or irregular sleep patterns. All of these factors can lead to the increased production of cortisol. When this happens, cortisol no longer functions in its usual pattern (rising in the morning and falling at night). Instead, it can leave you struggling to wake up in the morning while fighting for a good night’s sleep.
When the natural production of cortisol is ‘out of whack’, there’s a ripple effect that influences the body in many ways. From stress-related issues like fatigue, increased feelings of worry and overwhelm, disrupted sleep, weight gain and digestive issues, to poor cognitive function.
Tips to manage cortisol:
- Moderate your caffeine consumption: Studies show that a moderate amount of caffeine (around 2-3 cups of coffee) can lead to significantly elevated cortisol levels quickly after consumption.
- Consider the timing of your workouts: Exercising in the morning when cortisol levels are naturally at their peak will encourage and establish a healthy cortisol pattern. If mornings aren’t possible, be sure to have enough time to wind down after your evening workout before bed.
- Support your cell health: It’s our cells that send the signal to trigger the stress response in the first place, so maintaining the function of our cells (and mitochondria that live inside them) is key when it comes to supporting the stress response.
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Eat more protein
GLP-1, short for "Glucagon-Like Peptide-1," is a hormone naturally produced by the body in response to the ingestion of food – in particular, carbohydrates.
GLP-1 has many functions, from playing a critical role in the regulation of blood sugar and slowing the emptying of the stomach after meals – both of which support appetite and weight management. GLP-1 has also been shown to support the cells responsible for producing insulin (pancreatic beta cells), which may help to maintain and improve their function overtime.
Because GLP-1 is so closely tied to metabolic pathways that influence the body in so many ways, supporting the stimulation of this hormone can help contribute to hormonal balance.
Tips to stimulate GLP-1:
- Research shows that the intake of protein-rich meals can boost GLP-1 secretion, resulting in enhanced blood sugar control and reduced feelings of hunger. This effect may be due to protein's ability to delay carbohydrate digestion and absorption, resulting in a gradual and consistent glucose release into the bloodstream. Consequently, it triggers GLP-1 secretion, which supports insulin release and enhances glucose uptake by body cells.
- Experts recommend around 30g of protein with each meal to help stimulate GLP-1 secretion and support insulin sensitivity.
- Foods high in protein include eggs, chicken, lean meat, tofu, and legumes.
It’s a common misconception that ‘the higher the intensity the better’ when it comes to exercise. But in reality, low intensity movement can create huge positive changes when it comes to our health. Walking in particular has been shown to support the balance of hormones in many ways.
- Managing cortisol: low intensity movement like walking can help regulate cortisol and help buffer the effects of stress on the body.
- Improving insulin sensitivity: walking (particularly within the 30 minutes after meals) helps the body utilize insulin more effectively.
- Keeping hunger hormones in balance: Leptin and Ghrelin are two hormones that regulate hunger and satiety. Regular movement like walking can help support the balance of these hormones which can have a positive ripple effect on your physical and metabolic health.
- Supporting melatonin: Taking your daily walk first thing in the morning to expose yourself to morning sunlight can help regulate your body’s internal clock and support the production of melatonin – which in turn, promotes sleep quality.
Our day-to-day lives expose us to free radicals, which are compounds that can cause damage to our cells if left unchecked. Everyday factors like pollution, UV radiation, poor diet, lack of exercise (or too much), too little sleep, daily stress and alcohol consumption all contribute to the accumulation of free radicals in the body.
While our body has mechanisms to neutralize free radicals – as we age, and as our exposure to free radicals in our modern environment becomes harder to avoid, the body can tip into a state of free radical imbalance (AKA oxidative stress).
Oxidative stress and the damage it can cause is now thought to be a contributing factor in all health complications – including hormonal imbalances.
Support oxidative stress at the source
The relationship between oxidative stress and hormones is a two-way street. Too much oxidative stress can lead to hormonal imbalances, and in reverse – hormonal imbalances can lead to oxidative stress. Addressing oxidative stress in the body is foundational for supporting healthy hormones, and it all starts at a cellular level.
MitoQ is a world-first mitochondria targeted supplement that supports oxidative stress at the body’s source.
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