How can I support my hormonal health?
This is a very common question, and not just from women but men, too. Let’s go back to the basics of hormones.
A hormone is a chemical that’s released from somewhere in the body and enacts an action in another part of the body. Hormones are receptor-specific meaning that hormones can only enact their function on specific cells that have their receptor. However, when people refer to “hormones”, they often mean sex hormones which influence our reproductive organs as well as energy metabolism. These are the hormones we’re going to talk about today, but other hormones also control our hunger signals and digestion cues, levels of certain nutrients in the blood (calcium, glucose, etc.), fluid balance, and much more.
There are so many nutrients that are necessary for healthy hormone function. We’re going to look at a few of the key nutrients:
– Magnesium: Studies show that up to 20% of individuals are deficient in Magnesium. Magnesium is important for balancing excretion of cortisol, estrogen, and progesterone in the body. It also helps regulate levels of neurotransmitters like GABA, serotonin, etc.
– Zinc: Zinc deficiencies are linked with decreases in testosterone. It is also involved in thyroid hormone function which can greatly affect reproductive hormone activities.
– Selenium: This micronutrient is vital for reproduction. “Numerous reports implicate selenium deficiency in several reproductive and obstetric complications including male and female infertility, miscarriage…”.
Other dietary and lifestyle factors:
– Physical activity: Moderate physical activity (and not vigorous) has shown to improve ovarian function and overall hormonal health.
– Gut health: The gut microbiome is being studied more and more for its ability to influence hormones and other related functions.
– Balanced diet with whole foods: Diets with refined sugars, excess carbohydrates, and decreased fiber are associated with decreased hormonal function.
Hormonal health is such a complicated topic, but beginning with making sure you’re getting the right amounts of the essential nutrients is a good place to start!