Read on for how the wisdom of nature can help you heal hormone function.
Blood Sugar Variability
Our refined carb-crazy food culture has created a decades long human science experiment on a global scale, promoting spikes & crashes in our blood sugar day and night, and stretching the limits of our human biology.
Our bodies are simply not designed to manage this type of cellular insult long term and the first warning sign is usually a change in our hormone levels and function - which leads to a host of signs and symptoms that feel like a lot like 'burnout'.
It is this extreme blood sugar variability that contributes to insulin resistance, mitochondrial damage, fatigue, weight gain, and systemic hormone (im)balances that ultimately feed chronic inflammation in a self-feeding cycle. Chronic inflammation is the precursor to chronic and degenerative diseases.
5 Bad Habits to Break
Eating (un)balanced meals high in refined carbs/sugar or too low in protein, healthy fats, and fiber.
Eating too many nutrition-less foods from refined carbs & sugar overall.
Skipping breakfast (especially for women) or eating a carb heavy, low protein breakfast. Women and men are biochemically different and do not respond to fasting and low carb diets the same way - women may find a short term benefit to these strategies, but long term, you will end up in hormones chaos. Evolution dictates our hormone levels are negatively impacted when calories are intermittent and scarce over time - we gain weight, our moods and hormones are disrupted, and we have less energy. Don’t fight your biology!
Eating low protein meals as most hormones involved in metabolism use protein as building blocks.
Not addressing sources of chronic stress in your life or not using stress management techniques to give your body & hormones a rest each day.
Body Science Review
Blood Sugar is tightly regulated by the body under healthy conditions. Several hormones (insulin, glucagon, cortisol, epinephrine, and growth hormone) work together to keep it within a narrow range to fuel your muscles, brain, mitochondria and store the rest as:
glycogen in the muscles and liver (for short term use in between meals, during sleep, and during exercise)
fat (for long term storage)
The Adrenal Glands : Blood sugar crashes and chronic life stress both signal the release of cortisol, the master stress hormone. This triggers a release of blood sugar to fuel the body & brain for the flight or fight response. Chronic activation of your fight or flight eventually leads to a cascade of hormone dysfunction. So, you can imagine the result of a high-stress lifestyle AND a standard American diet high in refined carbs & sugars = hormone chaos!
The Thyroid Gland : The thyroid produces your master metabolic hormones that are in charge of your metabolism, i.e., how efficiently you burn calories. Insufficiencies of this hormone are commonly associated with fatigue and weight gain, among other symptoms.
The thyroid gland and thyroid hormone production are one of the first casualties of blood sugar imbalances, calorie restriction/fasting (for women), and the effects of chronic stress/inflammation. Where it gets even more complicated is compromised thyroid function also contributes to blood sugar and cortisol imbalances in a self-feeding cycle. For some women, it can be a slow process of healing over many months to fully recover normal thyroid function through diet and lifestyle changes and supportive nutritional supplements. Some may still benefit from lifelong thyroid hormone support.
It has only been a sliver of time in human history that we have been eating a diet high in refined grains, sugar, and processed foods. Our food culture has been shaped by the agricultural & industrial revolution, marketing, government subsidies, and corporate profit margins - not by common sense or evidence-based human health.
Our biology is simply not built to thrive with refined fuel - it promotes (dis)ease. Thankfully, we all have the power to shift this culture at any time, one meal at a time.
(re)Balance Your Master Hormones
How to avoid blood sugar spikes & crashes, cravings, ravenous overeating, and all of the negative consequences:
Eat antioxidant-rich, high fiber, low glycemic, whole foods - nature has your back! A plant-based diet is an optimal foundation for building blood-sugar balancing meals.
Eat well-balanced meals with protein, complex carb, fat, and fiber to slow digestion and maintain a steady blood sugar supply to your brain and tissues.
Eat a well-balanced breakfast with adequate protein, preferably within 30 minutes of waking and limit caffeine consumption. Cortisol levels increase in the morning to wake you up and get you going for the day (which raises your blood sugar naturally) - so when you prolong eating too long after waking you are sending signals to your body to enter starvation mode (calorie saving) OR if you eat a refined carb breakfast (or caffeinated beverage) you are going to spike your blood sugar even higher and the rollercoaster begins. Your body is calling for protein, plant-based phytonutrients, fiber, slow carbs, and fat in the morning - not a carb feast and caffeine bomb.
Fasting or intermittent fasting is NOT recommended for women long term (but it can be helpful for men - a woman's biology is simply different than a man's).
Manage chronic stress with restful sleep, daily movement, mindfulness, relaxation, and herbal adaptogens as necessary.
Benefits of working with a functional medicine practitioner:
Comprehensive lifestyle evaluation and health history to identify contributing factors and receive a personalized nutrition & lifestyle plan.
Short-Term, Blood Sugar Support Supplements: You may be a candidate for berberine, chromium picolinate, bitter melon, gymnema, and/or cinnamon. Blood-sugar stabilizing supplements are potent and are not a safe option for everyone, nor should they be the sole intervention. You must also be committed to diet & lifestyle changes to support healing.
Functional Labs: Complete Hormone Profile with salivary cortisol, fasting blood glucose, HbA1c, and Glycomark to determine blood sugar imbalances and functional hormone levels.
Want More Guidance & Support?
The Wild at Heart Community is uniquely designed to help you adopt a lifestyle aligned with the wisdom of nature that supports your wellbeing.
Subscribe to join the free Wild Reset Program for mind.body.home (re)wilding inspiration and download the (re)Wilding Retreat Guide: a nature-infused, self-guided retreat to explore on your own or with family and friends designed to help you de-stress, disconnect from technology, soulfully connect with loved ones & nature, nourish your mind.body with healthy whole food, and provide the mental space to practice mindfulness in your everyday life.
Want Personalized Guidance & Support?
Book a Wild at Heart Coaching Session. This complimentary first session is an invitation to share your health & wellbeing challenges and explore the possibilities for healing your mind.body.heart & soul with the Wild at Heart Method.
I look forward to walking with you awhile on your healing journey. We'll stop and smell the wildflowers. Smile a lot. And wander down the road less-traveled.
Be Well & I'll See You in the Wild,
Angela Juhl, MS, CHWC, CYT
Master of Science in Human Nutrition & Functional Medicine
Wellcoaches™ Certified Health and Wellness Coach
Wild Woman Project Circle Leader
Certified Yoga Teacher
Wild at Heart was founded on the mission: to take a stand against unsustainable cultural norms by empowering others to (re)align their lifestyles & mindset with the wisdom of nature for healing mind.body.heart & soul (im)balances and (re)kindling a soulful relationship to the natural world...for themselves, their loved ones, our communities, and our beautiful planet.