CAN FOODS ACT LIKE HORMONES?

I’ve found that, without a base of good nutrition, anything I recommend for a client is not nearly as effective. Food can be our best medicine or our worst poison.

Nutrition is a hotly debated topic. There are a dizzying number of ideas and recommendations out there, and it’s hard to filter right from wrong. Nutrition simply can’t be boiled down to broad-stroke recommendations such as reduce your carbs, go gluten-free, or take out trans fats.

We’ve been trained to think of foods as vessels for the building blocks of micronutrients (such as vitamins and minerals) and macronutrients (such as carbohydrates, fats, and proteins). It turns out that this old view may be way too simplistic.

There is a growing body of evidence that supports the idea that food acts much like a hormone. This new research supports shifting our focus to how different foods interact with the body instead of what micro- or macronutrients they contain. The research is starting to reveal that in addition to providing energy and micronutrients, food likely acts like a cocktail of signaling molecules (akin to hormones). These molecules direct our body–right down to the cells–on how to function… or not function (1).

Hormones are some of THE most powerful signaling molecules in the body, so it’s mind-blowing to start to think of food in this way.

[For more on hormones and their impact on adrenal fatigue, sign up to get our free Adrenal Fatigue guide.] The implication of this research is that food can have an incredibly powerful positive or negative effect on us. Food may affect how our bodies function and heal, much like how having balanced progesterone can be the difference between having a libido or not.

In addition, research is showing that food interacts with the billions of essential creatures that grow in our digestive tracts (called the microbiome) to indirectly spark signaling pathways in the body(2). In other words, food signals our gut bacteria to have effects on the body much like hormones too.

I’ve seen foods act like hormones in most of the clients I’ve worked with, and we’ve worked to bring balance through nutrition. For example, I helped a young mother named Jennifer to realize the power of nutrition and it impacts on her energy, digestive health, and weight. She had a dairy sensitivity that caused bloating and fatigue. Removing dairy from her diet significantly helped improve her energy levels, her metabolism, and her mood. Also, reducing sugar and increasing protein intake helped her maintain more even energy levels throughout the day. (Read more about Jennifer’s story here.)

For some of the Vital Mamas recommendations to help your body heal through nutrition, click here.

It takes time and effort to fully incorporate dietary changes and turn them into lifelong habits, but the effort can bring about some pretty amazing results.

Sources:

  1. Ryan, Karen K. and Seeley, Randy J. (2013) “Food As A Hormone.” Science Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4240228/
  2. Linda V. Thomas, Theo Ockhuizen, and Kaori Suzuki. (2014) “Exploring The Influence Of The Gut Microbiota And Probiotics On Health: A Symposium Report.” Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4077244/

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