I’m sure we all feel more emotional during the holidays – I know I do! Whether its frustration at the busyness of the season, feelings of nostalgia and happiness as we engage in holiday traditions, or grief from a loved one no longer with us, hormones are no joke during this time of year. We’ve got the 411 here for you on what hormones you’re affected by during this season and how to combat them!
Known as the stress hormone, there’s a reason it crops up this time of year. Big work project due before Dec. 31? Children up at night coughing? Enormous meals to cook and host? And, you know, school fundraisers, gift buying, gift wrapping, decorating, and of course, homemade hot cocoa to make and share. That stress hormone, produced in the adrenal glands on your kidneys, runs high right now. This can affect your blood pressure, weight, sleeping habits, digestion, and anxiety levels. Try to combat the hormone by limiting coffee and alcohol, keeping your sugar level stable with few sugary treats or carbs, aiming for some deep breathing for its calming affect, shifting your focus in stressful situations, and getting a massage!
A hormone that controls your hunger mechanism, leptin can help you control your appetite and metabolism. Too little sleep, however (less than eight hours) will decrease your levels of leptin, which results in decreased energy, increased appetites when you might not even need to eat, and lower metabolism. Over time, incorrect levels of leptin can lead to hypertension, obesity, anxiety, depression, and cardiovascular disease. Your body can begin to resist leptin as it increases in body weight. Getting enough sleep is the key way to produce the right levels of leptin, as well as reducing your sugar intake – including high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners. Fish oil can also help your body regulate the hormone.
Produced in the pancreas, insulin helps translate the sugars we eat into energy for our cells, as well as regulates carbohydrate and fat metabolism in our bodies. Our bodies can sometimes become desensitized to insulin and its effects, which can cause too much glucose in the blood. Over time, this leads to diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and polycystic ovary syndrome. To help keep your insulin acting as it should, eat enough protein, especially at breakfast. Also try to get enough healthy fats. And if you can, reduce your consumption of cookies, pie and cocktails over the holidays. Best of all, make sure to exercise on a daily basis, even just a 30-minute walk.
You could also be affected by a thyroid gland not working well, which leads to being exhausted, unable to lose weight, and having trouble focusing. Eating high-quality protein (meat) at every meal, limiting caffeine, and limiting wheat are great ways to reduce the effect.
Another important hormone is progesterone, made in the ovaries, is the pre-hormone to cortisol. When you don’t have enough cortisol to handle stress, your body dips into its supply of progesterone. And that causes anxiety, poor sleep quality, mood swings, and night sweats. Aim for having a daily dose of Vitamin C, limit caffeine, and limit alcohol.
Hormones are part of our everyday lives. They can make things easier for us or harder, depending on how they’re regulated. If you’d like to learn more, click here to register for our free webinar. To make an appointment to talk more about hormones and the holiday season, click below. We look forward to hearing from you!
Dr. Julie Drolet
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