Hormones, Part 1: The Biochemicals

One of the things I love about holistic nutrition is that when people switch to a whole foods-based diet and significantly reduce or eliminate things like processed foods, trans fats and refined sugars, they experience relief from many symptoms, not just the one they were originally targeting. For example, a client may start to lose weight (the original goal), but in addition they have more energy, begin sleeping through the night, have their acne clear up, or eliminate chronic constipation. This creates a cycle of increased self-awareness and more consistent healthy eating!

These changes take place because whole foods have the power to alter the balance inside the body to a more favorable, healthy state. Hormones are partially responsible for this conversion. Hormones keep our body in (or out of) balance, and many external factors affect this balance.

The first thing to understand is what our body’s biochemicals are. Biochemicals are the different chemicals inside the body that keep it functioning well. They are constantly undergoing chemical reactions and being used up. Nutrients from the food we eat provide the materials needed for rebuilding our biochemicals – a process called regeneration. Metabolism is the sum of all of these reactions. So, without biochemicals, our metabolism slows and we begin to feel symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, digestive distress, anxiety, stress, food cravings, skin rashes or acne, and more. Things like alcohol, processed foods, refined sugars, and stress use up our biochemicals rapidly. But with a whole foods-based diet, we are constantly replenishing our biochemicals and allowing our systems to function more optimally.

There are structural, functional, and energy biochemicals. Structural biochemicals include our cells, organs, glands, teeth, hair, skin, nails, muscles, bones, and tissues. Our functional biochemicals include hormones, neurotransmitters, enzymes, cell mediators, and antibodies. Finally, our energy biochemicals include sugar, triglycerides, and glycogen.

One way to keep our biochemicals replenished and functioning properly is to keep our hormones in balance. Later this week, I’ll talk about three hormones that are crucial for internal balance: cortisol, adrenaline and insulin. These hormones are commonly out of balance and are partially the cause of many negative health symptoms that people experience.

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