Hormones, Part 3: Rebalancing

As you read on Wednesday, when our cortisol, adrenaline, and insulin levels are out of balance, our health suffers. It starts with minor symptoms and can progress to more serious issues.

So what are some ways to rebalance these hormone levels? I’ll give you one guess… nutrition! Oh, and exercise, stress management, and other lifestyle choices will help too.


  • Never skip meals! When you do, your blood sugar gets out of whack and you tend to experience increased cravings and mood swings. Not to mention your metabolism slows down because it’s waiting for the next time you eat.

  • Focus on whole foods and avoid processed or refined foods whenever possible. Whole foods supply us with the vitamins and minerals we need to sustain the processes inside of our body. When we don’t get enough of these important nutrients, our organs and tissues suffer, leading to health symptoms.

  • Make sure that each meal and snack you eat contains a balance of proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates. All of these components are needed for balance. So, for example, instead of having an apple for a snack, try an apple with almond butter for dipping and some whole grain crackers.

  • Include fresh fruits and vegetables into your nutrition plan.

  • Drink plenty of water each day! Remember, the minimum is half of your body weight in ounces, each day. Increase this if you exercise, live in a dry climate, drink caffeine, consume sugar, or consume alcohol.

Stress Management

This is something that all of us probably need to work on. Why does managing stress aid in balancing the hormones? Because hormones are often secreted in response to stress, which contributes to an excess inside of the body. Make downtime an important part of each day. It can be something as simple as spending 5-10 minutes reading a good book each afternoon, or listening to music before you fall asleep at night. When you are feeling overwhelmed, practice deep breathing to keep yourself centered.


It is important to include a variety of exercises into your routine: flexibility and calming exercises; resistance training; and cardiovascular or stimulating exercises. Rather than just running every day or lifting weights a few times a week, try a combination of running, walking, yoga, pilates, and swimming, for example. However, remember that exercising too much can wear the body out and lead to poor health by the buildup of oxidants. It is important to find the right balance and not overdo it.


The last component to balancing your hormones is your lifestyle choices. Try to make decisions that will add to a healthy environment. Educate yourself on how toxins affect your hormones and your health, whether they are coming from things like lotions or shampoos, laundry detergents, or your food.

There are many components to finding a balance, and if you can work slowly in each category above, you WILL notice a difference in your mood, energy and overall health.


Hormones, Part 2: Cortisol, Adrenaline & Insulin

Now that we know about biochemicals and that hormones play an important role in keeping the biochemicals balanced, let’s learn more about these specific hormones.


Cortisol’s many functions include preventing blood sugar from falling too low, aiding the liver in energy storage and new sugar production for energy, mobilizing energy to the brain so we can think and act more efficiently, and fighting inflammation throughout the body. All good things! However, too much cortisol can lead to a serious imbalance within the body. Cortisol production can become out of balance as a result of STRESS: emotional stress, nutritional stress, chemical stress, physiological stress, or hormonal stress. When we have excess cortisol production, we use up our structural and functional biochemicals very quickly and become depleted. This leads to symptoms such as depression, memory loss, loss of lean body tissue, bone loss, type II diabetes, high cholesterol and triglycerides, redistribution of fat to midsection, high blood pressure, weakened immunity, and inflammation throughout the body.


Adrenaline is also known as the “fight or flight” hormone, which I write about every now and then. It is secreted in large amounts when we are under any type of stress, and is secreted in smaller, more regularized amounts constantly to help the body do things like maintain heart beat, access biochemicals, break down food for energy, and break down old cells to rebuild new ones. High adrenaline levels can be addicting in the short-term, because they demand the use of all of our biochemicals which leads to a false sense of optimal health. This is why people may experience a “high” or energy burst when they are under tight deadlines or when they are in a dangerous situation and must act quickly and smartly. However, over time too much adrenaline production can lead to the body using up its storage of biochemicals faster than it can rebuild them. This leads to any of the following symptoms: agitation, anxiety, nervousness, bladder urgency, blurred vision, emotional intensity, excessive sweating, heart palpitations, inability to fall or stay asleep, loose bowels, headaches, mental exhaustion, and flulike symptoms.


I write about insulin often in relation to blood sugar imbalances. Insulin is another very useful hormone, as it helps keep the body from using up too many biochemicals and is a major rebuilding hormone (assuming one is eating the proper nutrients). However, lifestyle-based insulin disorders are caused by the under- or over-secretion of insulin due to daily poor nutrition and/or lifestyle habits. These can include a diet too high in refined carbohydrates or processed foods; over-exercising OR not enough exercise; over-consumption of alcohol; smoking or drug use; and more. High levels of insulin lead to oxidation, which is the forming of free radicals inside the body. Eventually one will become insulin-resistant, which causes chronic high insulin levels. The following are symptoms of insulin-resistance: fatigue, brain fog, heart palpitations, difficulty sleeping, irritability, anxiety, loose bowels or constipation, panic attacks, severe sugar cravings, acne, depression, infertility and/or irregular menstrual cycles, and weight gain. If left untreated, insulin resistance will eventually lead to poor health and disease, including things like high cholesterol, high triglycerides, hypertension, type II diabetes, coronary and cerebral atherosclerosis, and even cancer.

Now that we know a little more about these three important hormones, we need to know how to rebalance them! On Friday, I will address this issue, including nutritional protocols for rebalancing the hormones.


Hormones, Part 1: The Biochemicals

One of the things I love about holistic nutrition is that when people switch to a whole foods-based diet and significantly reduce or eliminate things like processed foods, trans fats and refined sugars, they experience relief from many symptoms, not just the one they were originally targeting. For example, a client may start to lose weight (the original goal), but in addition they have more energy, begin sleeping through the night, have their acne clear up, or eliminate chronic constipation. This creates a cycle of increased self-awareness and more consistent healthy eating!

These changes take place because whole foods have the power to alter the balance inside the body to a more favorable, healthy state. Hormones are partially responsible for this conversion. Hormones keep our body in (or out of) balance, and many external factors affect this balance.

The first thing to understand is what our body’s biochemicals are. Biochemicals are the different chemicals inside the body that keep it functioning well. They are constantly undergoing chemical reactions and being used up. Nutrients from the food we eat provide the materials needed for rebuilding our biochemicals – a process called regeneration. Metabolism is the sum of all of these reactions. So, without biochemicals, our metabolism slows and we begin to feel symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, digestive distress, anxiety, stress, food cravings, skin rashes or acne, and more. Things like alcohol, processed foods, refined sugars, and stress use up our biochemicals rapidly. But with a whole foods-based diet, we are constantly replenishing our biochemicals and allowing our systems to function more optimally.

There are structural, functional, and energy biochemicals. Structural biochemicals include our cells, organs, glands, teeth, hair, skin, nails, muscles, bones, and tissues. Our functional biochemicals include hormones, neurotransmitters, enzymes, cell mediators, and antibodies. Finally, our energy biochemicals include sugar, triglycerides, and glycogen.

One way to keep our biochemicals replenished and functioning properly is to keep our hormones in balance. Later this week, I’ll talk about three hormones that are crucial for internal balance: cortisol, adrenaline and insulin. These hormones are commonly out of balance and are partially the cause of many negative health symptoms that people experience.