When you hear the word "hormones," PMS, puberty, and menopause most likely come to mind. But these so-called "chemical messengers" do more than guide your body through growth stages—in fact, they play a key role in fertility, metabolism, weight loss, mood, immune system function, stress, and more.
"When I experienced my own hormonal nightmare I felt fat, dowdy, old, and tired. I was moody, couldn’t concentrate, and I was constantly stressed," writes Irene Ross, a health coach specializing in natural hormonal balance, for Mindbodygreen. To avoid a similar predicament, she recommends monitoring the following five hormones, which play a key role in regulating metabolism, weight, and mood:
1. Insulin: Typically associated with diabetes, insulin fluctuations can also result in weight gain, lethargy, sleeplessness, irritability, lightheadedness, and brain fog.
2. Cortisol: This fight-or-flight stress hormone can lead to sleep deprivation, anxiety, hunger spikes, low libido, and weight gain if released in high amounts.
3. Ghrelin: This hunger hormone spikes when you're sleep deprived, causing your body to store fat and crave food, even after a satisfying meal.
4. Leptin: This so-called "satiety hormone" regulates your appetite and energy levels. Once again, sleep deprivation can cause leptin to spiral out of control.
5. Adiponectin: This hormone plays a crucial role in fat burning: The more adiponectin you have, the more fat you'll burn. Magnesium, found in dark leafy greens, avocados, and fish, can raise your adiponectin levels.
To keep these important hormones in check, Ross recommends getting adequate sleep, eating the right foods, focusing on clean eating, and managing stress, whether through an exercise like yoga or deep breathing. "When you do so, you’re inhaling oxygenated air and exhaling carbon dioxide. It releases stress-reducing hormones, resulting in a calm and more focused mind," she concludes. "With some intention and a few key lifestyle changes, I was back to my old self in no time."
For more, read up on the nine signs your hormones are off-balance, and how to fix it.