When it comes to hormones, we often thinking about birth control, foods high in soy, or PMS symptoms. We don't often think about all the other systems in our body and how many everyday things can actually affect these hormones. Just as we need to pay attention to what we eat and how often we work out, for optimal health, we need to watch out for outside factors that mess with our overall body functioning, as a majority of our habits can play a roll in our hormone regulation.
"Our environment has a huge effect on our hormones," says Burt Webb, MD to Bustle over email. "It can throw your hormones off by causing your organs to alter their production of hormones. For example, factors that affect our body and it's hormones include things that we ingest, that we put on her skin, things that we inhale, and stresses that we encounter.
Although some environmental factors are a natural part of regulating your hormones — and can actually have some positive effects — other, more synthetic things can be problematic to your overall wellbeing, and it is best to avoid them. If you're trying to look out for your health, consider these 11 everyday things that can affect your hormones.
Most plastic products we use release chemicals that act like the hormone estrogen, according to a study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. The chemical BPA specifically poses the most arm, as research shows that at certain exposure levels, BPA can cause cancer, according to BreastCancer.org.
2. GMO Foods
A study published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology found that long-term consumption of the herbicide Roundup and Roundup tolerant genetically modified corn (maize) may cause hormonal imbalances that can lead to infertility. Although the jury is still out on the safety of genetically modified foods, the study Kaiser Permanente to release warnings to limit consumption of GM foods.
It may surprise you, but exposure to light naturally affects your hormones that regulate your sleep and wake cycle. Your circadian rhythms function optimally when you're exposed to light in the morning and dark at night, which can help you sleep better and wake up with more energy. However, exposure to light at night, especially from electronics, can suppress the secretion of the hormone melatonin, which is responsible for regulating your circadian rhythms, according to Harvard Health.
"Xenoestrogens are found in make up, and this is something that is used on an every day basis," says Webb. "Therefore every day, estrogen blocker's are put into our bodies and don't allow the estrogen's to work as well as they should." These chemicals, called phthalates, are also found in products such as hair straighteners, hairsprays, and nail polish.
"There are harmful hormones in the meats we are consuming given to the animal to promote their growth," says Webb. "When we consume these hormones they create problems in our bodies." Hormones from meat can be stored in the body, causing imbalances that can result in breast lumps or cancer, according to SF Gate.
Stress can cause a number of changes to your hormones, including cortisol, epinephrine, and adrenaline, which can cause issues with your heart, raise your blood sugar levels, affect your digestion, and even increase your appetite, according to the American Psychological Association.
7. Drinking Coffee
Coffee may be great for that much needed energy-boost, but the drink is also responsible for raising levels of the stress hormone cortisol, according to Livestrong. This can lead to sugar cravings and an increased appetite once the effects of caffeine wear off.
When we travel across time zones, we suddenly become exposed to light at different times of the day, which throws off our circadian rhythms. This can also have an effect on your menstrual cycle, as changes in your circadian rhythms can affect production of estrogen and progesterone.
"Regular exercise — especially moderate to high-intensity interval training — can help keep leptin levels functioning properly," says clinical nutritionist Jacqui Justice over email. Leptin is the hormone responsible for regulating energy burn and appetite. In addition, exercise can also help reduce cortisol and adrenaline, according to Harvard Health.
10. Poor Sleep
"Poor sleep raise our levels of our stress hormones like cortisol while lowering other hormones potency like insulin (regulates our blood sugar) and ghrelin (influences our appetite)," says sports nutritionist Erick Avila over email. "This is why poor sleep and stress are linked to things like higher levels of abdominal fat and stronger cravings for junk food."
Sugar spikes the hormone insulin and desensitizes you to your appetite-controlling hormones ghrelin and leptin, according to hormone expert Alisa Vitti, in an article for Yahoo! Health. This can lead to increased levels of estrogen and testosterone, causing irritability, anxiety, insomnia and more, according to the Women's Health Network.
Paying attention to these influences can help you keep your body balanced and avoid any health issues down the line.
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