Hormones are chemical messengers that have profound effects on your
mental, physical, and emotional health. For instance, they play a major
role in controlling your appetite, weight, and mood.
Typically, your body produces the precise amount of each hormone needed for various processes to keep you healthy.
sedentary lifestyles and Western dietary patterns may affect your
hormonal environment. In addition, levels of certain hormones decline
with age, and some people experience a more dramatic decrease than
However, a nutritious diet and other healthy lifestyle
habits may help improve your hormonal health and allow you to feel and
perform your best.
Here are 10 natural ways to balance your hormones.
Consuming adequate amounts of protein is extremely important.
only does protein provide essential amino acids that your body can’t
make on its own, but your body also needs it to produce protein-derived
hormones — also known as peptide hormones (1Trusted Source).
endocrine glands make these hormones from amino acids. Peptide hormones
play a crucial role in regulating many physiological processes, such as
growth, energy metabolism, appetite, stress, and reproduction (1Trusted Source).
example, protein intake influences hormones that control appetite and
food intake, communicating information about energy status to your brain
Research has shown that eating protein decreases the hunger hormone ghrelin
and stimulates the production of hormones that help you feel full,
including peptide YY (PYY) and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) (2Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source).
3-month study in 156 teenagers with obesity associated a high protein
breakfast with increased PYY and GLP-1 levels, which resulted in weight
loss due to increased feelings of fullness (5Trusted Source).
Experts recommend eating a minimum of 20–30 grams of protein per meal. You can do this by including high protein foods such as eggs, chicken breast, lentils, or fish at each meal (3Trusted Source).
sufficient protein triggers the production of peptide hormones, some of
which suppress appetite and help you feel full. Aim for a minimum of
20–30 grams of protein per meal.
2. Engage in regular exercise
activity strongly influences hormonal health. Aside from improving
blood flow to your muscles, exercise increases hormone receptor
sensitivity, meaning that it enhances the delivery of nutrients and
A major benefit of exercise is its ability to reduce insulin levels and increase insulin sensitivity (3Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source).
is a hormone that allows cells to take up sugar from your bloodstream
to use for energy. However, if you have a condition called insulin resistance, your cells may not effectively react to insulin. This condition is a risk factor for diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.
while some researchers still debate whether the improvements come from
exercise itself or from losing weight or fat, evidence shows that
regular exercise may improve insulin resistance independently of body
weight or fat mass reduction.
types of physical activity have been found to help prevent insulin
resistance, including high intensity interval training, strength
training, and cardio
physically active may also help boost levels of muscle-maintaining
hormones that decline with age, such as testosterone, IGF-1, DHEA,
people who cannot perform vigorous exercise, even regular walking may
increase these hormone levels, potentially improving strength and
quality of life
training, aerobics, walking, and other forms of exercise may modify
hormone levels to reduce your risk of disease and prevent muscle mass
decline as you age.
gain is directly associated with hormonal imbalances that may lead to
complications in insulin sensitivity and reproductive health.
is strongly related to the development of insulin resistance, while
losing excess weight is linked to improvements in insulin resistance and
reduced risk of diabetes and heart disease
Obesity is also associated with hypogonadism,
a reduction or absence of hormone secretion from the testes or ovaries.
In fact, this condition is one of the most relevant hormonal
complications of obesity in men
This means obesity is strongly related to lower levels of the reproductive hormone testosterone in men and contributes to a lack of ovulation in women, both of which are common causes of infertility.
studies indicate that weight loss may reverse this condition. Eating
within your own personal calorie range can help you maintain hormonal
balance and a moderate weight.
a moderate weight is crucial for hormone health, as obesity is strongly
related to hormonal imbalances that may impair insulin sensitivity and
4. Take care of your gut health
example, when your gut microbiome ferments fiber, it produces
short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) such as acetate, propionate, and
butyrate. Both acetate and butyrate aid weight management by increasing
calorie burning and thus help prevent insulin resistance (24Trusted Source, 27Trusted Source).
addition, lipopolysaccharides (LPS) — components of certain bacteria in
your gut microbiome — may increase your risk of insulin resistance.
People with obesity seem to have higher levels of circulating LPS (24Trusted Source, 29Trusted Source).
Here are some tips to improve your gut bacteria to positively affect your hormones.
A healthy gut microbiome may positively influence your hormones by regulating your appetite and reducing insulin resistance.
5. Lower your sugar intake
added sugar intake may be instrumental in optimizing hormone function
and avoiding obesity, diabetes, and other diseases.
sugar fructose is present in many types of sugar, comprising up to 43%
of honey, 50% of refined table sugar, 55% of high fructose corn syrup,
and 90% of agave (30Trusted Source, 31Trusted Source, 32Trusted Source).
addition, sugar-sweetened beverages are the primary source of added
sugars in the Western diet, and fructose is commonly used commercially
in soft drinks, fruit juice, and sport and energy drinks (30Trusted Source).
intake has increased exponentially in the United States since around
1980, and studies consistently show that eating added sugar promotes
insulin resistance — regardless of total calorie intake or weight gain (30Trusted Source, 33Trusted Source, 34Trusted Source).
Long-term fructose intake has been linked to disruptions of the gut microbiome, which may lead to other hormonal imbalances (35Trusted Source).
more, fructose may fail to stimulate the production of the fullness
hormone leptin, leading to decreased calorie burning and increased
weight gain (33Trusted Source).
Therefore, reducing your intake of sugary drinks — and other sources of added sugar — may improve hormone health.
high in sugar have been shown to promote insulin resistance, disrupt
your gut microbiome, and reduce leptin production. Thus, lowering your
sugar intake may aid hormonal health.
6. Try stress reduction techniques
Stress harms your hormones in several ways.
The hormone cortisol is known as the stress hormone because it helps your body cope with long-term stress.
body’s response to stress activates a cascade of events that leads to
cortisol production. Once the stressor has passed, the response ends.
However, chronic stress impairs the feedback mechanisms that return your
hormonal systems to normal (36Trusted Source).
chronic stress causes cortisol levels to remain elevated, which
stimulates appetite and increases your intake of sugary and high fat
foods. In turn, this may lead to excessive calorie intake and obesity (36Trusted Source, 37Trusted Source, 38Trusted Source).
addition, high cortisol levels stimulate gluconeogenesis — the
production of glucose from non-carbohydrate sources — which may cause
insulin resistance (38Trusted Source).
Notably, research shows that you can lower your cortisol levels by engaging in stress reduction techniques such as meditation, yoga, and listening to relaxing music (39Trusted Source, 40Trusted Source, 41Trusted Source).
Try to devote at least 10–15 minutes per day to these activities, even if you feel you don’t have time.
Engaging in meditation, yoga, and other soothing activities may help normalize your levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
7. Consume healthy fats
Including high quality natural fats in your diet may help reduce insulin resistance and appetite.
Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs)
are unique fats that are less likely to be stored in fat tissue and
more likely to be taken up directly by your liver for immediate use as
energy, promoting increased calorie burning (42Trusted Source).
MCTs are also less likely to promote insulin resistance (42Trusted Source).
healthy fats are found in pure MCT oil, avocados, almonds, peanuts,
macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, fatty fish, and olive and coconut oils (42Trusted Source).
Eating healthy fats may help reduce insulin resistance and levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
8. Get consistent, high quality sleep
matter how nutritious your diet or how consistent your exercise
routine, getting enough restorative sleep is crucial for optimal health.
For instance, not only does sleep deprivation
impair insulin sensitivity, but poor sleep is associated with a 24-hour
increase in cortisol levels, which may lead to insulin resistance (49Trusted Source, 50Trusted Source, 53Trusted Source).
In fact, one small study in 14 healthy adults found that 5 nights of sleep restriction decreased insulin sensitivity by 25% (54Trusted Source).
a review of 21 studies in 2,250 people, those assigned to a short sleep
group showed higher ghrelin levels than those who got the recommended
amount of sleep (55Trusted Source).
your brain needs uninterrupted sleep to go through all five stages of
each sleep cycle. This is especially important for the release of growth
hormone, which occurs mainly at night during deep sleep (56Trusted Source).
To maintain optimal hormonal balance, aim for at least 7 hours of high quality sleep per night.
Poor sleep has been shown to decrease fullness hormones, increase hunger and stress hormones, and increase insulin resistance.
9. Follow a high fiber diet
Fiber is essential to a healthy diet.
soluble fiber tends to produce the strongest effects on appetite by
increasing fullness hormones, insoluble fiber may also play a role (59Trusted Source).
gut microbiome ferments soluble fiber in your colon, producing SCFAs
that stimulate the release of the fullness hormones PYY and GLP-1 (57Trusted Source).
As such, try to eat several high fiber foods each day.
fiber intake is linked to improvements in insulin sensitivity and the
hormones that control hunger, fullness, and food intake.
10. Consider following the Mediterranean diet
estrogen levels that are either too low or too high have been linked to
acute and chronic health conditions, including obesity, metabolic
disorders, and various cancers (60Trusted Source, 61Trusted Source).
However, dietary choices may contribute to changes in your estrogen levels.
shows that the Western diet — primarily composed of refined sugars and
animal products — is linked to higher estrogen levels, which are a risk
factor for breast and ovarian cancers (61Trusted Source, 62Trusted Source, 63Trusted Source, 64Trusted Source, 65Trusted Source).
the contrary, following a Mediterranean-style diet rich in whole
grains, seeds, fish, legumes, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli
and cauliflower may help reduce estrogen levels and, thus, cancer risk (62Trusted Source).
Similarly, long-term adherence to the Mediterranean diet may reduce breast cancer risk during and after menopause — stages that are characterized by low estrogen levels (66Trusted Source, 67Trusted Source).
Researchers believe that this diet increases your intake of protective plant compounds such as polyphenols and lignans (62Trusted Source).
a diet high in red meat and processed and refined foods with a
Mediterranean-style diet rich in whole grains, legumes, and fish may
help you manage your estrogen levels.
The bottom line
hormones are involved in every aspect of your health. You need them in
very specific amounts for your body to function optimally.
Hormone imbalances may increase your risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other health conditions.
aging and other factors that affect hormones are beyond your control,
you can take several steps to help manage your hormone levels.
nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and engaging in other
health-promoting behaviors such as meditating and getting enough sleep
may go a long way toward improving your hormonal health.