Hormones- what a vast subject! And one that we are still learning so much about with more scientific research coming out all the time.
Lets start by explaining hormones. They are the most powerful chemical in the human body and are used to send signals from one part of the body to another. The Hypothalamus is where all the hormone activity begins. It regulates sexual function, hunger and thirst. The endocrine glands, which are located in different parts of the body, produce hormones and then the blood transports them to various cells. Some hormones affect specific body tissue, while others stimulate different responses throughout the body. For eg. Sex hormones dictate what happens in the reproductive years – puberty, menstrual cycle,pregnancy and menopause.Oestrogen helps maintain strong bones, skin moisture and protects against some heart and blood vessel disorders.
Progesterone – increases our appetite, raises body temperature and influences the kidneys which regulate salt and water throughout the body.
The Adrenal Glands produce stress hormones such as cortisone and adrenalin,which regulates heartbeat and blood pressure, whereas Thyroxine is produced by the Thyroid Glands and Thyroxine regulates our body’s metabolic rate.
Now there is documented scientific research that understands the importance of food and our intake of nutrients and how it all affects the delicate balance of hormone production and fluctuations. With inadequate nutrition comes mood swings, depression and headaches, to name just a few side-effects.
If someone is experiencing hot flushes then by adding more phytoestrogens (plant based – from Miso and green and yellow vegetables), calcium, omega 3 fatty acids, zinc and Vit D is very beneficial. Supplementing with good quality Vit C helps reduce breast tenderness and Vit B6 brings relief from headaches, fluid retention, irritability and depression. Oily fish such as wild Salmon, Mackeral, pumpkin sees and flax seeds are great sources of Omega3.
By adding naturally cultured foods into our diet daily and if possible at every meal, then we are helping our bodies absorb wholesome nutrients more fully and healing gut disorders such as Leaky Gut, IBS etc, which if left untreated or unhealed then lead to further health problems down the road. By naturally culturing our foods, most of the work of breaking down certain components of that food has been done by beneficial bacteria, taking the load off our already compromised digestive system.
Women often go through stressful episodes in their lives which put extra strain on our nutritional needs and two such things are pregnancy and breastfeeding. Women often experience severe PMS after childbirth due to the demanding nutritional needs of the baby. As the mothers body is depleted of essential nutrients, hormones are not produced in adequate amounts at the appropriate time of the cycle. But, a very simple and effective way of overcoming this is changing ones diet and lifestyle, by bringing in highly nutritious food, that contains superior quality protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins, living enzymes, minerals, amino acids and high quality cultured foods.
As we mature in age, we tend to lose bone density naturally,due to less oestrogen being produced, but if ones diet consists of alcohol, caffeine, smoking, malnourished diet, and the person also has difficulty absorbing nutrients, then minerals are excreted from the bones to help alkalise the body leaving bones porous, weak and susceptible to breaking. A diet high in calcium rich foods, Vit D to help absorb that calcium and essential fatty acids, help to influence stronger bone density. Cod liver oil, salmon, sardines,cultured dairy deliver Vit D. Whole sardines -bones included, green leafy vegetables, sesame seeds and shellfish all provide Calcium. Oily fish, linseed oil and seeds, almonds, green leafy vegetables and wholegrains supply essential fatty acids.
As you can see, nature provides us with all that we need, we just need to respect and utilise it wisely.
So again “let food be your medicine so that medicine need not be your food”.