7 Natural Ways to Care for Your Endocrine System
By Contributing Author, Kate Harveston
Your endocrine system contains the glands and organs that produce hormones. Hormones act as catalysts to ensure all the parts of the body function properly. They govern your metabolism, fertility and much more.
How can you take good care of your endocrine system naturally? It’s a simple matter of knowing which habits to embrace and which to avoid. Taking the following seven steps will go far in keeping your hormones happy and healthy.
1. Eat a Plant-Based Diet
Scientists continue to learn more about the benefits of eating a plant-based diet daily.
Your risk of developing colorectal cancer, for example, increases if you eat more than 18 ounces of red meat weekly. Any amount of processed meat increases your risk of stomach cancer. Both products raise your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Artificial hormones used in raising livestock to slaughter can also mess with your endocrine system. Synthetic estrogen and testosterone used to make livestock gain weight faster can cause changes that may lead to early onset of puberty in children. What these hormones do to adult bodies remains unclear, but since eating a primarily plant-based diet has so many other health benefits, why not moderate your meat consumption?
2. Take Regular Exercise
You may know exercise releases endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Did you know it could also balance your hormones?
According to exercise physiologist Hahns Petty at the Piedmont Atlanta Fitness Center, a combination of strength training and cardiovascular exercise maximizes your benefits and balances your hormones.
If you’re a woman entering menopause, getting 30 minutes of moderate cardiovascular activity can ease symptoms. In men, regular exercise boosts testosterone levels, a hormone that typically diminishes with age.
3. Shed Excess Pounds
Recent scientific research indicates adipose, or fat, tissue plays a major role in hormonal health and deserves acceptance as an organ of the endocrine system. Obesity, for example, contributes to conditions such as insulin resistance, a major risk factor for the development of Type 2 diabetes.
Women who are obese run a higher risk of endometriosis, which affects one out of every 10 women during their reproductive years. They also run a higher risk of developing uterine fibroids. In either case, shedding excess weight in a healthy way can help alleviate the pain of these conditions.
Talk to your doctor to set a healthy eating and fitness regimen that you can monitor together.
4. Pass on Processed Foods
Most people know eating a ton of junk harms their bodies in various ways. It leads to weight gain, intestinal discomfort and dental cavities. Excessive consumption of bleached flours and simple sugars can also send your hormones haywire.
One study indicates indulging in junk foods even twice per week doubles your risk of developing metabolic syndrome and Type 2 diabetes. It also increases your risk of death from cardiovascular disease due in part to fluctuations in insulin. To balance your endocrine system naturally, opt for whole foods, including grains such as quinoa, fresh fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats like fish, nuts and seeds.
5. Tackle Excess Stress
Too much stress can throw your hormones into a tizzy.
When you’re under pressure, your adrenal glands release the hormone cortisol, which causes the fight-or-flight response. When you’re chronically under tension, cortisol reaches unhealthy levels, contributing to behaviors such as stress-eating.
Practice yoga or meditation or get out in nature as often as possible and seek therapy if symptoms do not subside.
6. Cut Back on the Hard Stuff
Too much booze can lead to an excess of estrogen. In men, this can cause breast enlargement and lowered testosterone. In both men and women, regular heavy drinking increases breast cancer risk. Strive to have no more than one drink per day if female and two if male.
7. Get Adequate Rest Every Night
Lack of sleep can lead to hormonal disruption.
Insomnia can lead to weight gain in part because it causes increased cravings for snacks, particularly salty or sugary ones.
Practice good sleep hygiene by hitting the hay and waking up at the same time each day. Keep electronic devices like cellphones and computers out of the bedroom where the blue light from screens can keep you awake.
Balancing Your Endocrine System Naturally
You don’t need to suffer from hormonal fluctuations wreaking havoc on your moods and your body. By following the tips above, you can balance your hormones naturally and lead a happier, healthier life!