DIET, STRESS AND YOUR HORMONES

As we all know, today’s world can be very stressful.  And the effects of stress on the body can have many consequences, not to mention an alteration in hormonal levels.  Cortisol is known colloquially as the body’s “stress hormone”; that is to say, it is released during times of stress.  The basic purpose of this is to increase blood sugar, preparing us for fight or flight.  As a result, more cholesterol is shunted towards the cortisol pathway and we produce less aldosterone, testosterone and estrogen.  Under prolonged stress, this can create serious health concerns.  Below is a simplified chart of the cholesterol hormone cascade of the adrenal cortex:

 

 

Additionally, dietary deficiencies in any of the micro-nutrient catalysts listed (Vitamin B2, B3, B5, B9, A, C, E and Zinc), will eventually result in hormonal deficiencies as well.

Aldosterone–is a mineralocorticoid that is primarily responsible for regulating re-absorbtion of sodium from the kidney.   This plays a large role in maintaining systolic blood pressure and proper hydration levels.

Testosterone–is a sex hormone that regulates bone and muscle mass, fat deposition, red blood cell production, sex drive and  and sperm production in men, as well as many other functions.  Low testosterone levels have been linked with depression.

Estrogen–is responsible for the development of female secondary sexual characteristics, and stimulates the growth of the endometrium.  It also plays a role in the resorption and formation of bone, as well as many other functions.  In males, estrogen aids in the maturation of the sperm.

The above article is simplified and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your medical doctor or naturopath.  It only serves to underscore the importance  of a healthy diet and manageable stress levels.  Suggested food sources of macro- and micro-nutrients are listed below (not comprehensive):

Cholesterol: cholesterol will be present to varying degrees in any food derived from animals

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): beef liver, avocado, salmon, spinach

Vitamin B3 (Niacin): beef liver, salmon, avocado, nutritional yeast

Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid): avocado, chicken, eggs, sweet potato, broccoli

Vitamin B9 (Folate): green leafy vegetables (lettuce spinach, kale, etc.)

Vitamin A: coloured vegetables (carrots, squash, pumpkin) butter, cod liver oil, broccoli

Vitamin C: oranges, strawberries, sauer kraut, potatoes

Vitamin E: wheat germ oil, almonds, sunflower seeds

Zinc: pumpkin seeds, beef, brewer’s yeast

 

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