How your diet affects your hormones
By Faith Kariuki Biongo
| January 20th 2019
Hormones are special chemical messengers that control most body functions. They affect:
Normally the body produces just the right amount of each hormone. However various factors including diet can result in an imbalance which increases the risk of many health problems.
High consumption of sugary foods and drinks
The more sugary foods you eat, the more fat cells are made in the body and subsequently, the more estrogen is produced. This can lead to an imbalance with inadequate progesterone and excess estrogen. This imbalance is a common cause of many health problems including acne, infertility, pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) and irregular menstrual cycles.
Meats like broiler chicken and fish fed on unnatural diets with high levels of antibiotics and growth hormones, can cause havoc to the endocrine system, especially secretion of estrogen and progesterone. Such foods can lead to early puberty, reproductive health issues and increased risk of chronic conditions like cancer.
Low consumption of fruits and vegetables
A diet high in fibre is especially important for protecting gut health. It helps maintain a good balance of gut microbiota, organisms that live in the digestive track, and also helps move waste from the system. Approximately, 90 per cent of serotonin, or the feel good hormone is secreted in the digestive tract. This hormone drives mood and behavior, regulates the sleep-wake pattern and stimulates the feeling of happiness and positivity. A diet low in fibre leads to various digestive health issues and interferes with serotonin secretion which can cause mental health issues including stress and depression.
When you skip a meal especially breakfast, secretion of insulin and cortisol hormones are affected. During hunger, the body produces cortisol, a stress hormone, in excess. It increases since the body thinks you are starving which in turn triggers a stress response. Excess cortisol production can lead to weight gain especially around the abdomen giving you a pot belly. The fat cells making up the paunch acts as hormone pump for estrogen. Cortisol also blocks the release of the hormone that controls hunger leaving one feeling hungry all the time.
Cortisol is also made from progesterone hormone. When you skip meals, your body gives priority to production of cortisol over progesterone. This often leads to estrogen dominance which increases risk of conditions like acne, pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS), irregular menstrual cycles and infertility.
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