Our bodies are coursing with hormones, and those hormones are responsible for some of the most essential functions in the body, including puberty, sleep, stress levels, mood, sex drive, weight, appetite, and more. However, certain seemingly innocent habits can wreak havoc on your hormones and those vital physical and mental functions.
Let’s examine six daily behaviors that can greatly impact your hormones by causing hormonal imbalances…
Interrupted Sleep Schedule
Sleep is governed by your body’s internal clock, or circadian rhythms. According to research from the International Journal of Endocrinology, there is a clear link between the sleep-wake cycle and hormone secretion, particularly for women.
In fact, fluctuations in hormones will in turn affect the menstruation cycle, stress (due to excess cortisol), blood sugar, and circadian rhythms, causing sleep disturbances and more sugary junk food cravings.
Lack of Exercise
I’ve been long touting the many subtle (or less aesthetic) benefits of regular exercise. Well, WebMD.com says that aside from a lack of energy and the risk of any expanding waistline, regular physical activity can also keep your hormones in check.
Endorphins, or so called “feel good” chemicals triggered for release by the brain, keep us energized and positive (and prevent irritability and depression). Endorphins also impact libido (aka: sex drive) and keep the immune system strong and able to fight off germs and illnesses. So try to fit in at least a 30-minute walk each day.
Absence of Cardiovascular Activity
You may be hitting the gym like gangbusters, but if your workouts are only concentrating on hitting the weights (resistance training) your hormones will suffer.
Studies conducted at Penn State University found that those who skip aerobic activity from their workout regimen are not taking advantage of the natural appetite-suppressing benefits of a hormone known as ghrelin. This hormone is directly linked to how much you sweat, and in turn helps you avoid the cravings for late night snacks and junk food binges.
If your diet consists of a lot of refine sugar—including candy, chocolate, sugary sodas, and other processed foods—and you’re not only at risk of unhealthy weight gain, you’re also prone to metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
Too much excess sugar in your diet can cause insulin resistance, according to Dr. Holly Phillips, a New York City-based physician who specializes in women’s health issues. If you become insulin resistant, your body becomes inefficient in transferring energy from sugar to the body’s cells.
Not Another Fad Diet
If you tend to hop on the bandwagon of every celebrity diet trend, think about what that yo-yo effect is doing to your hormones. Crash diets, juice cleanses, and detoxes that severely restrict calories (to as little as 1000 calories per day) literally wreak havoc on your hormones, according to data compiled by the Pennington Biomedical Research Center.
Any diet that restricts calories and has an end date (every fad diet) will cause drastic hormonal imbalances by causing estrogen levels to plummet. In turn, you may lose weight quickly, however, at a cost to your mood, appetite, and sleep schedule, and chances are, as soon as you return to a normal diet, you’ll just gain all the weight back, plus some!
Mid-Afternoon Caffeine Rush
Are you prone to a sugary latte or trip to the vending machine for soda at 2pm each workday? You can place the blame for that directly on your stress hormones: aka: cortisol. This hormone directly triggers the body’s fight or flight response, causing anxiety, jitters, mood swings, sleep disturbances, and increased sugar cravings.
A study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, links excess caffeine intake to a jolt of cortisol, which will only cause you to experience increased stress and anxiety, and severely disturb sleep.