Contrary to what you've been told your entire life, being "hormonal" is a positive thing. Because if your body didn't produce hormones, you wouldn't survive very long. Hormones are fundamental to how our bodies operate and they keep us in sync with the world.
The problem with our hormones is that we aren't aware of them and we don't listen to them. As a result, they can get out of whack. So the problem isn't that our hormones exist. The problem is that we have a hormone imbalance.
Hormone Balance is About More Than Estrogen and Testosterone
When most of us hear the word "hormones," we immediately think of the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone. And, we may not have positive feelings about either one. Think back to being a teenager and going through puberty. Did an adult in your life ever try to blame your bad days on your hormones? Or worse, did anyone ever tell you to, "Stop being so hormonal"?
Back then, hormonal changes were responsible for our rapidly changing bodies. For cis females, that meant breast development and the start of our periods. And for cis males, it meant facial hair and squeaky-then-deepening voices. Let's face it. Even under the best circumstances, puberty was an awkward time. And if that's the last time you gave much thought to your hormones, you're not alone.
But estrogen and testosterone aren't the only hormones that our bodies create each and every day. Before we dive into some of the other hormones you might not have heard of, let's recap exactly what a hormone is.
A hormone does what, exactly?
Hormones are produced by certain organs and glands throughout your body. They act like chemical messengers that tell your body to do something. This all happens on a subconscious level, just like breathing in and out, so it's easy to take our hormones for granted.
- At night, your pineal gland—which is located in your brain—releases the hormone melatonin. This hormone tells you that it's time to sleep.
- When you were a child and younger teenager, your pituitary gland—which is also in the brain—was hard at work releasing growth hormones.
- And everyday, without you even knowing it, your kidneys release renin and angiotensin, two hormones that help control your blood pressure.
Unfortunately, the phrase "being hormonal" evolved into a pejorative and became synonymous with "moody." However, "being hormonal" actually means that your body is working correctly.
All of these hormones are important, but there is another hormone that you may not give much thought to. And that hormone impacts your moods, your energy levels, and even your skin.
The Most Important Hormone You Don't Even Think About
After you eat or drink anything, the carbohydrates in the food or beverage breaks down into glucose. Glucose is important because your body needs it for energy. However, your cells need a little help in storing glucose. That's where insulin, a hormone produced by your pancreas, comes in.
When glucose enters your bloodstream, your pancreas responds by releasing insulin. Under ideal circumstances, the glucose and insulin high-five each other and get to work. However, not everyone's body uses insulin effectively, a condition that's called insulin resistance.
The Lowdown on Insulin Resistance
When you have insulin resistance, the glucose in your blood and the insulin that your pancreas produces aren't an efficient team. As a result, your pancreas may need to produce more and more insulin to get the job done. Glucose may also have a difficult time entering cells. As a result, it hangs out in the bloodstream longer and causes you to have elevated blood sugar levels.
Insulin resistance creates stress in your body and confuses your brain. Think of it this way: Imagine you had a roommate that was sort of like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. One minute they wanted to dance on the table, but the next they wanted to sit in moody silence. That's what your body goes through with insulin resistance.
A higher than normal blood sugar level can lead to a type 2 diabetes diagnosis. However, you don't have to have diabetes to be concerned about or even aware of your blood sugar levels. Because in this day and age, with our modern diets, everyone should be conscious of insulin resistance.
The Silent Health Problem That Most People Aren't Aware Of
Blood sugar levels are unlike some other diagnostic criteria, in that there is some grey area. A person can have higher than normal levels, but still be too low to meet the criteria for a type 2 diabetes diagnosis. And a lot of people are living in that grey area of elevated glucose levels and don't even know it.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than one out of three adults have higher than normal blood sugar levels, but not high enough to meet a type 2 diabetes diagnosis.
Disturbingly, over 80% of these people don't even know that their blood sugars are higher than they should be. They may not experience symptoms. Or, more likely, they misinterpret their symptoms and attribute them to something else.
And unfortunately, some people are so used to not feeling well and that they don't know what normal is anymore. They may just feel like something is "off" but don't know what it is or where to even start. A hormone imbalance or insulin resistance doesn't even cross their mind.
Insulin Resistance Affects Your Body, Your Mind, Your Mood
Insulin resistance does more than put your pancreas into overdrive and screw up your body's ability to use and store glucose. For starters, your body starts to lose its ability to respond to food properly.
And, there have been many studies done on the effects of insulin resistance. Some of the common ailments that we've come to just accept as part of our Western lifestyle can be traced back to unhealthy glucose levels and insulin resistance.
Medical researchers have found a link between insulin resistance and behavioral disorders like depression. Insulin resistance has been shown to interfere with dopamine, which is often called the "feel good" hormone. And one analysis of more than 900 medical studies found that, "Depression is associated with the onset of type 2 diabetes."
Of course, depression is complex and may have more than one cause. But getting your blood sugar levels under control can only help, and let you feel better overall.
There is also a connection between insulin resistance and acne. If topical treatments like ointments and creams aren't helping your acne, insulin resistance could be to blame. That includes the acne that many people with PCOS experience. So while you may have been told that hormones are causing your acne, it's just not the hormonal issue you expected.
Fatigue and Sluggishness
In sleep apnea, a person's breathing repeatedly stops and starts throughout the night. This sleep disorder, which causes fatigue and lower energy levels, has been associated with insulin resistance. There's evidence that many women with sleep apnea go undiagnosed because they have different symptoms than men.
Insulin Resistance is not Inevitable
Insulin resistance and all of the health maladies that come with it are not just an inevitable part of life in the 2020s. You can take back control of your health with a little self-care in the form of a healthier diet. Healthier eating means following time-tested nutritional advice and not the latest fad diets.
And While We're at It, Let's Talk About Carbs for a Minute
Carbohydrates have gotten a bad rap in recent years. If you look at sound nutritional advice that's held true over the years—and not the latest magazine headlines—it's clear that not all carbs are created equal.
Complex carbohydrates, like the kind found in whole grains, beans, and vegetables, are also high in fiber. These carbs are good for you. They break down in your body slowly, and give you sustained energy.
On the other hand, the simple carbohydrates found in processed foods like candy, donuts, and soda flood your bloodstream with a tsunami of glucose. Your pancreas freaks out and starts chugging away, producing insulin. At first, you'll feel a bit of a sugar rush or even a high of sorts. However, this isn't a sustainable energy spike. It won't be long until you run out of gas and feel like a plane that has crashed.
That crashed sensation isn't just metaphorical. Sugar crashes and midday slumps aren't just in your mind. These are a result of your blood sugar levels being on a roller coaster. Your blood sugar levels, which were sky high, are now lower than normal. Your body wants to return to normal blood sugar levels. So guess what you probably crave? Something sugary.
This becomes a vicious boom/bust energy cycle that wreaks havoc on your insulin levels. And these cravings aren't all in your head, either. Medical research has shown that irregular insulin levels lead to more cravings. A healthier diet isn't just about what you don't eat. It's about what you do eat, and when.
To put it simply, our modern diets and lifestyles confuse the heck out of our bodies and our minds. That's why we struggle with things like our moods, weird food cravings, plummeting energy levels, and pesky skin issues.
Food Solutions for Our Modern Lifestyles and Modern Ailments
Today, very few people have the resources or the time to eat healthy 100% of the time. But, that doesn't mean that we shouldn't try when we do have the opportunity. A healthier lifestyle isn't about perfection. It's about little steps and everyday choices that put our bodies back in sync.
We'd like to share three of our favorite recipes with you. In addition to promoting healthy insulin levels, these foods are also endometriosis-friendly and contain ingredients that can help curb period pain naturally.
Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
As far as we're concerned, pumpkin should be a year round food! You can whip up this Pumpkin Pie Smoothie in just a couple of minutes. If you love cinnamon, feel free to add a little extra to taste. Cinnamon has been proven to increase insulin sensitivity.
Some people skip breakfast because they just don't feel hungry. But when you skip the first meal of the day, your blood sugars can spike after lunch and dinner. That's true no matter what you eat later in the day. As far as your body is concerned, you can't play catch up after skipping breakfast.
This smoothie is a great way to start the day, because you can sip on it throughout the morning.
Super Turmeric Latte
Turmeric is a natural pain reliever, but many find the taste to be overwhelming. This Super Turmeric Latte adds in ginger, clove, cardamom and other spices to create a latte with milder heat.
You can make this drink ahead of time and keep it in the fridge. And the fact that it's caffeine-free means you can enjoy it any time of the day. This is the perfect drink to curl up with when you start to experience PMS symptoms.
Chocolate Cashew/Hazelnut Teff Pudding
This pudding includes raw cacao, which is high in iron and antioxidants. And the recipe is flexible, as you can choose between Cashew or Hazelnut milk, and Cashew or Hazelnut butter. We think this Chocolate Teff Pudding makes a great dessert or anytime snack.
'The Daily': A New Supplement for Hormone Balance
In a perfect world, you'd never skip breakfast or reach for fast food. However, you live in the real world and so do we. That's why we created a new supplement called "The Daily," which can help you maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Consider it one of the natural ways to balance hormones and survive our modern life!
The Daily contains magnesium, berberine, zinc, B vitamins and grape seed extract, nutrients that have all been linked to better insulin levels. This supplement keeps your metabolic hormones happy, even when you can't eat the healthiest every day.
The Daily can help you feel your best and be "hormonal," the way that nature intended.
"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that…"
"But when you skip breakfast, your blood sugars can spike after lunch and dinner."