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How Hormone Balance Can Reduce Stress Over the Holidays

The holiday season is a wonderful time of year, getting together with family and friends, enjoying traditions, creating new memories, and making the most of our time together.  Unfortunately, life, increased activities, preparation, travel, late nights, additional eating, and the desire to make everything perfect can increase stress levels that wreak havoc on our hormones. Imbalanced hormones can amplify stressful situations. Balanced hormones can be the difference in how we enjoy the holidays, follow these tips to maintain balance of these potentially stress causing hormones, Cortisol, Progesterone, Insulin, Thyroid, Leptin and Adrenaline. Cortisol, the stress hormone, helps your body deal with upsetting events. When a situation becomes stressful, cortisol will kick in to keep you in fight-or-flight mode.  It prompts your body to pump blood faster and to release glucose for energy. It can affect sleep, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, digestion, and your overall ability to cope with stress.  However, prolonged high levels of cortisol can lead to high blood pressure, anxiety, weight gain, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, skin changes, low mood, low sex drive, and heart disease.

Relaxing your body through diet and lifestyle is key to balancing cortisol.        

  • Limit coffee and alcohol as they raise cortisol levels        
  • Limit sugar and refined carbohydrate intake    
  • Slow deep breathing into the lungs flexes the diaphragm to lower cortisol levels and increase melatonin to aid sleep
Progesterone is the pre-hormone of cortisol, the stress hormone. Chronic stress requires more cortisol than your body can produce, forcing it to take cortisol from pre-hormones.  This results in low progesterone and can cause anxiety, night sweats, poor sleep, irregular menstrual cycles, and mood swings.

Manage stress since elevated levels of cortisol can drain progesterone.          

  • Increase vitamin C to boost immunity levels        
  • Limit caffeine intake       
  • Limit alcohol as it raises cortisol levels, if stressed, alcohol takes a further toll on the body, adding headaches, anxiety, moodiness, and then it is stored as belly fat.
Insulin provides sugar from the foods we eat and delivers to cells for energy.  Additionally, it controls carbohydrate and fat metabolism. Insulin helps cells in the liver, muscles, and fat tissue to absorb glucose from the blood. Elevated levels of glucose in the bloodstream can cause insulin resistance and be toxic. Insulin resistance is linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and polycystic ovary syndrome.

To reduce or eliminate insulin resistance, exercise, and eat properly to balance insulin in your blood sugar.       

  • Eat a protein at each meal, especially breakfast        
  • Eat healthy fats to feel satisfied and stabilize blood sugar         
  • Limit sugar and refined carbohydrate intake as they affect insulin levels, resulting in weight gain due to large amounts of glucose at one time.
  • 30 to 60 minutes of daily exercise can reduce insulin resistance
The thyroid controls the body’s metabolism, regulating how fast the cells in your body burn energy. When your thyroid is working properly; you have energy, regulated body temperature, consistent weight and your metabolism is balanced. Proper thyroid function is closely intertwined with the health of your adrenal glands. The adrenal glands are extremely sensitive to stress and produce cortisol in response. Continuous stress weakens the adrenal glands, resulting in the thyroid slowing down, causing fatigue, sluggishness, and persistent weight gain.

Proper diet will help balance the thyroid and keep adrenal glands strong.         

  • Eat a protein at each meal          
  • Limit sugar and refined carbohydrate intake          
  • Limit gluten and wheat consumption·         
  • Limit caffeine intake
Leptin is a hormone in your body that helps sustain weight. The level of leptin in your blood is linked directly to how much body fat you have. Leptin is a natural weight control; it signals the brain that we have enough fat and to stop eating. Lack of sleep and holiday activity presents a problem in Leptin.  Low levels of leptin slow metabolism and increase appetite. Additionally, low leptin levels increase cortisol, which stores fat and burns muscle.  Over time, too high or too low levels of leptin can lead to depression, anxiety, obesity, hypertension, and heart disease.

Healthy sleep patterns and diet balance leptin levels and manage weight.       

  • Get eight hours sleep a night to maintain leptin levels and additionally maintain healthy body weight.         
  • Limit sugar and refined carbohydrate intake         
  • Eat healthy omega-3 fatty acids which help decrease hunger and fight leptin resistance
Adrenaline is a hormone sent through your bloodstream by your adrenal glands. When scared or suddenly stressed, adrenaline is swiftly released into your body. This is known as an adrenaline rush as it happens so fast and puts your body into fight-or-flight mode. If your adrenal glands produce too much adrenaline, it can cause high blood pressure, headaches, lightheadedness, sweats, and increased heart rate.

Eat at regular intervals and watch your diet to help balance adrenaline levels.       

  • Add spices and herbs to meals         
  • Eat regularly throughout the day         
  • Avoid eating before bed          
  • Eat food rich in Vitamin B
Limit caffeine intake, sleep, exercise, eat more protein and healthy fats, take your vitamins, and limited carbohydrates, sugars, alcohol, and caffeine to help keep hormones balanced during the holidays.  Additionally, being happy and having a positive outlook is related to lower cortisol levels, it is hard to feel stressed when having a good time, so laugh and enjoy! Balanced hormones decrease stressful situations, ultimately reducing stress over the holidays. 

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