Mood, hunger, sex, sleep…Hormones influence far more than you think. And as the wellness industry becomes more bespoke, hormonal health is the latest frontier. Hannah Nathanson gets for this new era of medicine.
Extract from full article
According to nutritional therapist Eve Kalinik, 95% of serotonin, the key hormone that affects your mood, is produced in your gut. ‘The gut is involved in many hormonally related conditions that might be felt very far from the gut itself’, she tells me. ‘We often think of thyroid hormones as being in the thyroid gland, but in fact 20% of our thyroid hormones get converted in the gut, which has a massive impact on our metabolism.’ Eve has dedicated an entire chapter to hormones in her recently publishes book Be Good to Your Gut, which explores how supporting the gut, and all the trillions of microorganisms in it, can help achieve a ‘happy hormonal balance’.
I ask whether there are any superfoods that help hormone health. ‘Brassicas, such as broccoli, cauliflower and kale. Broccoli is a pin-up for health foods, but with good reason. These foods contain a compound that helps the body to metabolise oestrogen.’ But Kalinik is quick to stress that you can’t just rely on adding broccoli to your diet. ‘You need to have a healthy gut to get the benefits from it. Avocados are a really good stress food as they contain food levels of the pantothenic acid our adrenals need, but it only works to a point.’
So my diet could help me manage my stress levels, but I need to make sure I eat in a calmer environment and not at my desk. ‘If you shut your laptop and don’t eat with your work around you, it’s amazing how much better you feel. It even affects things like your hunger levels,’ says Kalinik. ‘Often, we wolf down our food and still find ourselves hungry, or we need a coffee. We just haven’t allowed enough time for our hunger hormones to kick in and tell us we’ve had enough.’
But there are ways to influence your hunger hormones that don’t involve food. Sleep is one of them, as is the time of day you exercise. Eve suggests working out first thing in the morning, as ‘this can help to support glucose tolerance for better and more balanced blood-sugar management’. When it comes to exercise, the trend for HIIT classes and squeezing an intense session into 20 minutes isn’t necessarily helping our hormone balance. Everyone I speak to name checks yoga as the best way to minimise stress. According to Dr Annaradnam, ‘the people who need to do yoga most are the people who say, ‘Oh, I can’t relax in a yoga class, I can’t switch off.’ That’s why you need to do it! If you can’t switch off for an hour, that’s a problem.
Full article available in the October edition of Elle Magazine
Eve’s book BE GOOD TO YOUR GUT is available to buy here