So does what you put in your mouth really have an impact on hormone balance? You bet it does! Any type of food you eat or beverage you drink does have an impact on hormonal health & as a result can impact our fat loss journey either negatively or positively.
The best way to explain the relationship between nutrition & hormone production is to outline each one, why it causes hormone imbalance & as a result the body to store fat & what we can do to address this issue.
One of the most important hormones to get a handle on is insulin. Its function is to transport energy from carbs (in the form of glucose) to our muscles for energy but unfortunately when too much of this hormone is secreted from the pancreas we store fat, in particular research has shown, around the love handles or muffin top & the shoulder blades (aka back fat). Once we start to control insulin production in the body we can then start to tackle those stubborn areas of body fat.
The higher a carbohydrate is in GI (Glycaemic Index), meaning your blood sugar levels rise as a result of eating that carb, the higher insulin response or the more insulin that carb will produce. The body has no choice but to store that carb as fat when too much of this hormone is secreted. The scary news is that after a while your body will build up an insulin resistance which basically means that insulin will stop doing its job completely and your ability to metabolise carbs for energy will decrease dramatically. In short it will become harder and harder to lose fat once we abused the wrong carbs over an extended period of time. Women with insulin issues such as POCS will be able to relate to this VERY WELL as a low carb diet will cease to work if there is an insulin issue in the body.
So how do we address insulin?
Choose food and drink that have a low insulin response & promote insulin sensitivity.
Foods that are low in GI have a low insulin response. Foods that are high in good fats from nuts, salmon, avocado & coconut oil have a low insulin response. FORGET CALORIES! Focus on hormone health & the fat loss will happen. I would also suggest a krill oil (see my blog on supplements for hormone health) as it has a faster absorption rate than fish oil & studies have shown krill is 38 times stronger than regular fish oil. Eating good fats & supplementing with omega 3 will also make you more insulin sensitive which will help correct insulin resistance issues. What this means is that it will add to the amount of insulin receptor sites we have therefore when we do eat a carb our bodies will metabolise it v's storing it as fat.
Cortisol is another key hormone that is impacted by what we eat and drink. Cortisol is produced by the adrenal glads located on top of your kidneys when our body is under stress. When produced in too higher amounts it can store as fat around the naval were majority of our cortisol receptor sites lie.
How food and drink impacts this hormone predominantly is through too many stimulants (e.g.. coffee or fat burners) in the diet as well as not eating enough or again too much high GI food in the diet as when blood sugar levels drop after they have spiked too quickly or from not eating frequently enough the body stresses out and we start to produce too much cortisol as a response to this stress.
We want to keep blood sugar levels stable to avoid too much cortisol being produced in the body. Eat every 3-4 hours and always choose something that has protein, good fats & low GI carbs. See my book healthy body for suggested meal plan.
If we reduce cortisol we reduce fat storage.
Cut the caffeine & excessive use of fat burners like green tea extract (in moderation and in the AM is best for stimulants) that stimulate cortisol production and drink enough filtered water! Dehydration also stresses the body out. Supplementing with chelated magnesium with D3 for absorption also helps. (See my blog on supplements for hormone health).
Lastly the hormone that can be messed up by the foods we eat & beverages we drink is Oestrogen. This hormone is secreted mainly from the ovaries in females & a small amount from testes in men. When we have too much off this hormone in the body fat will store as fat in the lower half (aka saddle bags) in women & chest in men. This is due to oestrogen receptor sites being predominantly in these two areas.
Foods that have been heavily sprayed with pesticides can act as oestrogen mimickers which leads to oestrogen dominance in the body. What that means is that the mimicker will slot into an oestrogen receptor site (located mainly in women around the lower body) ad cause the body to produce too much oestrogen leading to fat storage and cellulite. Choose organic to combat this issue or take a look at the clean 15 foods (less pesticides) & dirty dozen (heavily sprayed) & buy organic from the dirty dozen. See more in my book Healthy Body.
We need to add foods into our diet that help detox oestrogen as not only does poor food choices increase oestrogen but chemicals like parabens (found in poor quality body care products & cleaning products) as well as exposure to bad plastics (choose BPA free) will contribute. A healthy liver, kidneys & gastrointestinal tract are the 3 main detoxification pathways our body uses to get rid of these mimickers or toxins. If one is not working toxins recirculate in the body & we continue to have the issue of high oestrogen in the body.
Stay away from excess alcohol consumption, gluten and other possible food intolerances that upset gut health you may have if you want to start the process of detoxification and in turn shred fat from those stubborn areas. Adding cruciferous veggies (see healthy body book for more info) helps detox as well as a good fibre and good strain of probiotic to help gut health (see more on supplements for hormone balance)
We can see from the above that every choice we make throughout the day negatively or positively can impact our hormone health.
See my other blogs below for more information on balancing your hormone & shredding fat for life or buy my book Healthy Body.
Yours in Hormone Health & Fitness,