In my previous articles, I mentioned 3 of the 4 reasons why we get stressed: Perceiving situations as stressful based on how our brain is wired, ingesting foods that rapidly raise our sugar levels and consuming stimulants (particularly caffeine). I’d like to share with you the 4th and less known reason why we experience stress: A hormone imbalance and/or deficiency.
If you are the kind of person that has never really been prone to stress, doesn’t indulge in sugar-rich foods, keeps stimulants at bay, sleeps well, exercises regularly, and has begun to feel stress lately for no apparent reason, then most likely you are suffering from a hormonal imbalance or deficiency.
Most women go through the experience of hormonal imbalance during their menstrual cycle because the levels of their sex hormones (oestrogen and progesterone) rise and fall, altering it’s usually balanced ratio. These hormonal changes are the culprit for most of the feelings associated with the premenstrual syndrome (PMS), particularly when it comes to stress.
In the case of men, low levels of the hormone testosterone can trigger the stress response as well.
So if you are convinced that you are really looking after yourself when it comes to your sleep, diet, exercise and your weight is within normal range, start by seeing your primary care doctor who may then refer you to an endocrinologist.
The specialist will review your symptoms and, if they are consistent with low levels of the aforementioned hormones, he or she will very likely have your blood tested to check your hormone levels. If you are in fact experiencing a hormone imbalance or insufficiency, the you will need to bring them back to balance.
Your doctor might recommend supporting hormone supplements, but always remember that hormone issues can be brought to balance naturally, by getting restful sleep, eating a balanced and nutritious diet, having healthy emotional relationships in your life and getting the proper amount of exercise.
Something to look out for though are major hormone disruptors: man-made chemicals found in the pesticides sprayed on our food, plastics, medications (especially hormonal ones), detergents and other chemicals. So stay away from bleached products, cling film and other plastic food storage, and unfiltered tap water.
In terms of your food intake, make sure to include in your diet soya products, nuts, fish, and plenty of foods which are naturally rich in fibre: beans, lentils, oats, brow rice, vegetables and fruit. Also minimise your intake of sugary foods and drinks as well as animal fats such as milk, cheese and cream.
Be consistent with your healthy lifestyle habits and you should be back into balance promptly.