When we think about hormonal systems, we often only consider those that control reproduction, such as the female monthly fertility cycle. However, there are myriad other ways that hormones influence us, from sleep regulation to blood pressure control, and stress responses to blood sugar. Furthermore, these functions are often affected by the same hormones as each other, and are impacted by the same lifestyle and dietary factors.
Our articles are always evidence-based, and orientated towards a holistic and Personalised Health approach; we aim to provide you with actionable knowledge and tips to help you on your journey to optimal health.
If you have a history of health problems, you should always consult your health practitioner before trying any new natural approaches to enhance your hormonal health, to avoid any contraindications, and ensure you are taking into account your individual health circumstances.
In this article, we will take a closer look at what you can do to detox and support your endocrine system, the term given to the system of glands that make hormones to support many important bodily functions.
Hormones – what are they?
Hormones are chemical messengers, and they regulate pretty much every process that happens in your body. They are responsible for telling every cell in your body what they should or should not be doing at any given moment.
Hormones are regulated by the endocrine system to maintain homeostasis, or a ‘balanced’ state of being, and are produced using cholesterol. Diet and external environment play a significant role in maintaining their often delicate balance, and certain deficiencies, due either to inadequate nutrition or increased nutrient requirements, can cause hormonal mayhem.
When hormones have delivered their messages to the intended cells or organs, it is primarily the liver’s job to break down and excrete them as waste products. If this is not done effectively, it can result in an excess of certain hormones, contributing to the development of a range of issues – excessive oestrogen, for example, can lead to an increased risk of blood clots and strokes, as well as causing fatigue and weight gain.
There are a few simple principles to help you promote proper hormone function, prevent excess hormonal buildup in your system, and generally support your endocrine system.
Look after your liver
When it comes to thinking about being kind to your liver, which is the primary organ of detoxification, you may be unaware as to how much the consumption of even small amounts of substances such as alcohol and caffeine can place stress on this vital organ, decreasing its capacity to effectively eliminate hormonal waste.
Whilst substances like these may feel like they make life less stressful, the knock on effects on your hormones may reduce your energy levels, lead to more negative health outcomes, and even potentially impact fertility.
Alcohol, in particular, increases oestrogen levels in the body and can even decrease testosterone levels in men.
Power up with protein and healthy fats
Your liver requires amino acids to eliminate hormones from your body. To ensure that you are gaining enough high quality protein for it to do so, include a range of plant based protein sources in your diet, which will help to increase your intake of antioxidant phytonutrients, as well as opting for organic, pasture raised animal proteins and wild caught fish, whenever possible.
Similarly, it is important to ensure you are consuming enough healthy fats, as hormones are created from cholesterol. Recent research suggests that saturated fats are not as bad as previously thought, but a focus on unprocessed fat sources, high in omega-3 in particular, may provide the most benefits to hormonal, as well as more general, health.
Water, water and more water!
Most detoxification pathways in the body require proper hydration, from elimination to sweating. The rule of thumb is that if you’re feeling thirsty, you’re probably already dehydrated. Try to focus on non-caffeinated beverages such as herbal teas if you aren’t keen on drinking plain water.
A good tip is to infuse a large jug or bottle of water with lemon, herbs or cucumber every morning – a refreshing and healthy alternative to artificially flavoured or sugary drinks.
Sleep like a baby
Many of us feel like our ability to sleep disappears as soon as stress takes hold, be it from work, life events, or family and home life. However, there’s a lot to be said to support your health through maintaining sleep hygiene practices during periods of high stress.
Our circadian rhythms are controlled by hormones, and an erratic or inadequate sleep schedule can play havoc with hormonal regulation. Melatonin, the hormone responsible for sleep, is broken down and eliminated by the body as we slumber, whilst cortisol levels decrease and insulin sensitivity increases.
Sleep hygiene is a term commonly used to describe the practice of a healthy sleep routine. Factors such as only eating early in the evening, avoiding caffeinated beverages after midday and avoiding the blue light of phone and computer screens at night, can all help to establish regular and healthy melatonin production, as well as keeping to a regular bedtime and morning routine.
Naturally, including a wide range of phytonutrient rich vegetables in your diet will help to support your body in producing and eliminating hormones. However, cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, cabbages and kale, play an especially important role in liver function.
These vegetables are high in sulphur containing compounds, which your liver uses to break down and eliminate waste products. They are also rich sources of fibre, antioxidant chlorophyll and Vitamin C – making this group of vegetables the ultimate detoxification veggies.
The sugar trap
Blood sugar is regulated by the hormone insulin, which the pancreas releases in response to a rise in blood sugar levels. Simple (easily broken down and absorbed) sugar and carbohydrate sources are not easily found in unrefined, natural foods, and the human body struggles to regulate blood sugar if simple sugars are frequently consumed in large amounts.
This can wreak havoc on our insulin function and contribute to the development of insulin resistance, where insulin is required in ever greater quantities to keep blood sugar low enough that it does not begin to damage cell membranes. It also places the body in a state of stress, as erratic blood sugar triggers the release of adrenaline.
To support balanced blood sugar and reduce the strain on your hormonal system, always choose wholegrain and high fibre options, avoid products with added sugar, and keep sweets, cakes, pastries, sugary food and all refined carbohydrates to a very occasional treat.
The endocrine system is complex, and it can be difficult to keep up the habits that will allow your body the best possible chance of producing, regulating and then eliminating waste hormones. Often, we are not aware of how much we need to reset our lifestyle until we reach a point of crisis, be it early signs of adrenal fatigue or burnout, debilitating and erratic menstrual cycles, or more commonly, weight gain and blood pressure issues.
However, even mild hormonal imbalance can cause some unpleasant symptoms – are you uncomfortably spotty, sweaty or just feeling continually stressed out?
Investing in a detox health retreat is a great way to kickstart your health journey. A Personalised Health detox will help you even more, by taking into account your individual health status, needs and goals, and tailoring an approach accordingly to maximise the health benefits for you.
Why not come to Amchara for a relaxing detox health retreat?
With expert advice on hand from our experienced Personalised Health practitioners, you can benefit from individualised advice, tailored to your needs and goals, to help you maximise your health gains.
Or if it’s difficult to find time to get away, why not try Amchara Juicery – cold-pressed, nutritious juices delivered to your door to help you boost your health, naturally. Created by Amchara’s expert in-house health team, you can enjoy a range of fresh, organic juice cleanses (and super soups) at home.
Kick your endocrine system and liver into gear with a daily infusion of nutrients and antioxidants, and explore our Health Hub for more ways to support your hormonal balance with evidence-based lifestyle and dietary advice.