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Balancing Your Hormones

By taking necessary steps to attain optimal hormonal balance and ameliorate endocrine function, you'll notice that your overall sense of well-being will increase as well as your fitness and health results. Keep in mind, however, that balancing hormones isn't a result of a one-time solution. Rather, hormonal equilibrium is achieved through lifestyle changes, both big and small.

The secret to restoring vigor and vitality is in your ability to manage your body's hormonal equilibrium.

DHEA

Short for dehydroepiandrosterone, DHEA is a hormone produced in the body's adrenal glands that offers its own benefits, which include the following:1,2

  • Converts Into Female and Male Sex Hormones Depending on the Body's Needs
  • Attenuates Aging Process
  • Improves Strength, Muscle Mass, Weight Loss, and Sexual Health
  • Improves Symptoms of Depression

It is important to note that although DHEA plays an important part in overall fitness and health, that doesn't mean "the higher the levels, the better the results." Healthy DHEA levels depend a lot on age and sex, and need to be managed in conjunction with cortisol levels. What's most important is that you balance DHEA levels and do all that you can to support healthy DHEA secretion.

So, how can you manage DHEA levels? There are a couple ways to promote healthy DHEA secretion.

Surround Yourself With Things That Make You Happy and Increase Your Joy

This may sound hokey, but clinical studies indicate that low levels of DHEA are linked with depressive symptoms. More specifically, a 2007 study showed that 61% of patients suffering from a chronic state of mild depressive symptoms were experiencing low levels of DHEAS.3 DHEAS is the form of DHEA most commonly measured in the blood stream. Consequently, studies have shown that supplementing with DHEA and increasing DHEA levels resulted in decreases in depressive symptoms.4

Increasing your joy may mean implementing meditation to help calm yourself from everyday stress, traveling more often, hanging out with the ones you love more frequently, and indulging in other healthy habits and hobbies regularly.

Try Taking DHEA Support Supplements

DHEA support supplements are formulated with dehydroepiandrosterone, which will aid in managing DHEA levels. Make sure to follow instructions on the label and most importantly be consistent with supplementing.

Strive to get around 7-8 hours of sleep a day. If needed, take a power nap during the day as well.

Get Enough Sleep

Sounds simple, right? Well, depending on your job, familial responsibilities, and any other day-to-day obligations, the importance of getting some good shut eye can be overlooked, and often is. Sleep is important for promoting healthy endocrine function and hormonal release. Depriving yourself of sleep is a surefire way to plummet not only DHEA levels but other hormones as well.

Try and dim the lights as you get closer to bed time, this will help create an ambiance in which you can relax and start to feel tired. Other things you can do to optimize your sleep quality is avoid drinking a lot of fluid at night so you don't interrupt your sleep with a bathroom run, and even investing in a sleep mask to help block out bright lights.

TESTOSTERONE

Testosterone is the steroid hormone produced in the ovaries and adrenal glands in women and more prominently in men in the testes, controlled by the pituitary gland. Testosterone is often referred to as the "key to male vitality".

Testosterone is involved in several aspects of growth and development, including:5

  • Development of Masculine Characteristics Like Facial Hair and Sperm Production
  • Promoting Bone Health, Muscle Growth, Fat Distribution
  • Optimizing Energy Levels and Sexual Well-Being

As you can see, testosterone levels play a big role in everyday function and overall well-being in both men and women. Balancing this super hormone is imperative for maximizing your health and fitness.

Get Enough Zinc and Healthy Fats

Zinc is arguably one of the best micronutrients you can consume to help manage testosterone levels and even benefit workout performance, whether this means consuming foods rich in zinc like cooked oysters, shrimp, beef, lamb, and sesame seed or aiding your diet with zinc support supplements. Research shows men whose diets consist of higher amounts of monounsaturated fat tend to have higher testosterone levels.6 Avocados are an excellent source of monounsaturated fat, so throw those into your diet when you are able to.

Bolster natural testosterone production through healthy eating and exercise.

Implement Intense Resistance Exercise Into Your Workouts

Doing squats, bench press, and other compound movements can increase testosterone levels, even if it's only temporary.7 Keep in mind though, that your workout needs to be a high-powered intensity. Simply doing low reps and low sets won't be enough to trigger a hormonal response.

Take Time To Relax and De-Stress

While getting sufficient sleep will help balance healthy testosterone production, combating anxiety, hostility, depression, and other physiological stress are excellent ways to combat low testosterone levels. Individuals who experience high physiological stress have significantly lower testosterone levels than people who experience lower stress levels.8

Exercising, listening to music, relaxing on your days off, participating in hobbies, or even some moderate television use may be good ideas for unwinding and cooling down.

Try Testosterone Boosting Supplements

Testosterone support supplements offer optimal amounts of zinc as well as other herbs, micronutrients, and additional ingredients to fill in nutritional gaps in the diet and promote natural testosterone production. Other ingredients to look for include tribulus terrestris, d-aspartic acid, horny goat weed, and maca root – these ingredients are used to also increase sexual well-being.

ESTROGEN

Estrogen is the primary female sex hormone and responsible for development of female characteristics. Estrogen is found in both sexes, produced in smaller amounts by the testes, and in larger amounts in women in the ovaries. Healthy estrogen levels are involved in the following:9,10

  • Female Development and Secondary Sexual Characteristics
  • Mood Regulation
  • Improved Fat Burning
  • Vaginal Health
  • Bone Strength

Although healthy estrogen balance is determined depending on sex, managing estrogen levels is imperative to daily function and health, and there are several ways to balance this important hormone.

One way to balance estrogen levels is to consume foods high in phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are found in plants and exhibit properties similar to estrogen. They act by attaching to estrogen receptor sites, which stimulates these receptors.11 Foods high in phytoestrogens include soybeans, flaxseed, and whole grains.

A Diet High in Fiber

A diet high in fiber has been shown to help balance high estrogen levels in premenopausal women.12 So, if your estrogen levels are significantly high, place an emphasis on getting enough foods high in fiber. Some excellent options for fiber-rich foods include fruits, grains, and legumes.

Throw in some fiber-dense snacks throughout the day to help you balance estrogen levels.

Aromatase-Blocking Supplements

Also known as aromatase inhibitors, are another way to help maintain a healthy balance of estrogen levels in the body.

Implement a healthy exercise regimen and avoid eating junk/fast food to prevent excessive fatty tissue cultivation.

Too much fatty tissue accrual in men can lead to increased aromatization, which is the process of converting testosterone to estradiol, a biologically active form of estrogen. By taking this big step and implementing some life style changes, exercise and healthy eating can help you avoid muscle mass loss, emotional imbalances, and fatigue, all of which are side effects men can experience from an imbalance of estrogen.

CORTISOL

Often referred to as the “stress hormone,” this steroid hormone is produced in the cortex in the adrenal glands and affects the body’s stress pathways, which produce physiological responses.

Cortisol levels affect the following:13,14

  • Balancing Fluids and Blood Pressure
  • Energy Mobilization by Determining Appropriate Substrates to be Utlized as Energy
  • Immunity, Digestions, and Sex Drive

While cortisol is necessary for proper function, it’s important to balance cortisol levels because and imbalance can affect more than just libido, obesity, and blood pressure.

Take time to unwind frequently. No need to feel guilty about it. Treating yourself to some relaxation is beneficial to your long-term success.

Listen to Calm and Relaxing Music

Putting on some soothing music or even nature sounds like ocean waves, forest sounds, and rain can help put your mind at ease and combat stress.

Take Time to Meditate

Research shows that meditation over time can help attenuate psychological stresses.15 Try mindfulness meditation, a form in which practitioners sit with eyes partially or fully closed and focus on the movement of the abdomen moving as you breathe, or place focus on the feeling of the breath entering and exiting the lungs. As thoughts intrude the mind, mindfulness meditation practitioners dismiss these thoughts by focusing back on breathing.

Get Exercising

Working out is said to be another form of meditation. Exercise increases “feel good” hormones that help alleviate stress. It doesn’t matter whether it’s running, playing volleyball, or even hitting the weights at the gym, just get active and you will notice a difference.

Don't Forget to Laugh

Laughing can reduce serum levels of cortisol and produce a biochemical change that researchers indicate has the potential to attenuate stress hormone responses. So, throw in a funny movie, listen to hilarious podcasts, and surround yourself with people that make you laugh.16

INSULIN

As directed by the pancreas, this peptide hormone is secreted and involved in the following processes:17,18

  • Fat Storage
  • Lowering of Blood Sugar
  • Energy Storage

Balancing this hormone is critical for proper metabolic function, managing body composition through fat burn and energy utilization, and avoiding extremely high blood glucose, insulin resistance, and diabetes.

Manage Your Blood Sugar by Choosing the Right Foods

Focus on eating healthy, nutritious foods like fish and other protein, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, and fiber. If you eat carbohydrates, make sure they are complex, as they take longer to digest and don’t spike insulin as much as simple carbohydrates. Try and avoid saturated fats and foods high in cholesterol and sodium (egg yolks, high-fat animal dairy). A healthy diet is absolutely crucial to managing insulin levels.

Eating healthy doesn't have to be boring, but it does need to be consistent.

Use a Glucose Meter

To help balance blood sugar if needed. This is probably the best way to measure and monitor your blood sugar levels. We also recommend you consult with a health professional whether it be through regular check-ups or more in-depth appointments as needed.

Try Glucose Disposing Agents

These supplements are used to help break down carbohydrates as storage to be used in muscle glycogen rather than body fat. If you are interested in glucose disposing agents, look for key ingredients like alpha lipoic acid, cinnamon, and chromium. Keep in mind, however, that just because you decide to use glucose disposing agents doesn’t mean you don’t need to be vigilant in your food selection.

HGH

Short for human growth hormone, HGH is produced by the pituitary gland and is quintessential for the following:

  • Growth and Development
  • Workout Performance
  • Boosting Muscle Recovery and Repair Through Protein Synthesis

Balancing growth hormone levels will maximize your gym performance as well as overall well-being. For some, growth hormone is available as a prescription drug to manage HGH balance. However, for those just looking to maximize natural HGH production for improved functionality, there are several ways.

Compound exercises like the squat are great ways to send your exercise intensity soaring for optimal HGH production.

Try HGH Support Supplements

Unlike synthetic forms of HGH that are only available with a doctor’s prescription, HGH support supplements are formulated with natural ingredients to optimize your body’s natural production of HGH. HGH support supplements are also sometimes formulated with other libido and testosterone-boosting ingredients to give an overall boost to well-being. If you are interested in HGH support supplements, look for supplements that contain arginine, glutamine, fenugreek, and GABA.

Exercise at High Intensity

Exercise seems to be an activity that optimizes almost all hormonal balances, and that doesn’t exclude HGH. There are two exercising factors that determine the magnitude of the HGH response: work load and frequency. Push yourself in the gym with some compound exercises and heavier weight for the best exercise-induced HGH response.19

Hit the Snooze Button

Sleep is another way you can balance your HGH levels. During sleep, especially during the sleep initiation phase, HGH secretion peaks. On the contrary, this means if you are neglecting sleep or not getting the rest you need, you are dramatically and negatively affecting your overall human growth hormone balance. If you do have trouble sleeping, you may want to look into some melatonin-based supplements, which are used to improve sleep quality without creating dependence.

DON'T NEGLECT HORMONAL EQUILIBRIUM

Don’t underestimate or discredit the importance of balancing your hormones. The secret to success in every aspect of the fitness world is having a healthy foundation. If your hormonal balance is out of whack, you will be operating at subpar levels and consequently achieve unsatisfactory results.

As you can see, activities like exercise, dieting, and healthy sleep are some reoccurring factors that optimize hormonal management. Don’t operate at subpar levels. Implement these changes, focus on managing your hormones and you will see vitality and vigor return to your life.

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Stefan R. Wilson
Stefan R. Wilson is a marketing professional, as well as a freelance author for nutritional supplements. He is based out of Salt Lake City, Utah and holds a BS from Brigham Young University. Stefan's expertise resides in the field of supplements to be used by athletes and bodybuilders while training.

REFERENCES

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  6. Men’s Health: Eat More Fat. ABC News.
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  8. K. T. Francis. "The relationship between high and low trait psychological stress, serum testosterone, and serum cortisol." Experientia: 15.12.1981, Volume 37, Issue 12, pp 1296-1297.
  9. Estrogen and Women’s Emotions.” WebMD.
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  13. Klein, Sarah. “Adrenaline, Cortisol, Norepinephrine: The Three Major Stress Hormones, Explained.” HuffPost: Healthy Living.
  14. Christine A. Maglione-Garves, Len Kravitz, Ph.D., and Suzanne Schneider, Ph.D. “Cortisol Connection: Tips on Managing Stress and Weight.”
  15. Julie Corliss, Executive Editor. “Mindfulness meditation may ease anxiety, mental stress.” Harvard Health Publications: Harvard Medical School.
  16. Berk LS, et al. “Neuroendocrine and stress hormone changes during mirthful laughter.” Am J Med Sci. 1989 Dec;298(6):390-6.
  17. Begg DP, Woods SC. “The central insulin system and energy balance.” Handb Exp Pharmacol. 2012;(209):111-29. doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-24716-3_5.
  18. What is insulin?” Medical News Today.
  19. Godfrey RJ, Madgwick Z, Whyte GP. “The exercise-induced growth hormone response in athletes.” Sports Med. 2003;33(8):599-613.

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