Being Heart Month, February is a time to bring attention to the importance of cardiovascular health, and what we can do to reduce our risk of disease. In Heart Healthy Hormones – What you Need to Know, we discussed the role your hormones play in your heart health. We covered a number of hormones and systems:
- Insulin from the pancreas
- T3 and T4 from the thyroid
- Adrenaline and cortisol from the adrenals
- Estrogen and testosterone from your sex organs
Now that we can clearly see the importance of healthy, balanced hormones to maintain good cardiovascular function, let’s look at what we can to do love and support these key systems.
One of the main keys to healthy, balanced hormones is stable blood sugar
To keep your blood sugar levels in check and maintain your cells’ sensitivity to insulin, work on including these tips into your lifestyle:
· Ditch the simple sugars and processed, packaged foods. Focus on eating nourishing whole foods that include lots of vegetables, some fruits, a good amount of protein and some healthy fats. This will help provide a slower rise in blood sugar and give you more stable energy levels.
· Eat at regular intervals throughout the day to avoid highs and lows in your blood sugar levels. This will also help keep your energy stable throughout the day.
· Exercise regularly – this includes both cardio and weight-bearing exercise. This is great for your cardiovascular system and will also help keep you at healthy weight which is beneficial to maintaining stable blood sugar.
· Are you a smoker? Quit. Smoking is a risk factor for insulin resistance, and diabetes.
· Get enough sleep – ideally 7 to 8 hours each night. Insufficient sleep is also a risk factor for insulin resistance and diabetes.
Your thyroid is a key player in hormone health, supporting heart health
Iodine is supportive of good thyroid function to help with the production of the hormones T3 and T4. Make it your goal to include more iodine rich foods in your daily diet:
- Seaweed: try combo, kelp, wakame, and nori
- Lima Beans
If you have or suspect thyroid issues, consult with your physician for appropriate testing. As a nutritionist, I can create a diet plan for you that addresses the needs of your thyroid in a complete, effective, multi-faceted approach.
Healthy amounts of adrenaline and cortisol depend on the optimal functioning of your adrenals– which also produce estrogen and progesterone
Stress causes your adrenals to shift their attention to pumping out adrenaline and cortisol, shunting production of progesterone and estrogen. That can throw your hormones out of balance. To keep your adrenals functioning well, stress management is key. Here are some strategies to try:
· Shift from coping to management strategies. This often means planning your time, prioritizing tasks, and anticipating events that may be more stressful than others.
· Incorporate breathing exercises throughout your day. Make this a habit in stress-free moments, and it will be readily available for you during stressful times. Breathing deeply and exhaling fully can help slow your heart rate and bring you into the present moment. And deep breathing can actually lower your cortisol levels!
· Foster and lean on a support network. Healthy relationships can support your mental and emotional well-being when life gets tough.
If your adrenals are sluggish, adaptogens may be helpful. Essentially, an adaptogen helps balance adrenal function whether the adrenals are overactive or underactive – pretty amazing, right? My blog post, What is an Adaptogen? will tell you more about what they are and how to incorporate them into your diet.
Finally, better quality sleep is key for every aspect of your health
There are plenty of great reasons to ensure you are getting a good night’s rest every night. But many of us find it difficult to get good quality sleep every night. Have a look at some factors that influence the quality of your sleep as well as 7 strategies to help you get the rest you need in my blog post: Better Quality Sleep.
Want some help balancing your hormones? Get your FREE Quick Start Guide to Healthy Hormones HERE.