Q: Is there something like survival hormones? Can you throw some light on that?

A: Hormonal health is an interplay of so many systems together to ensure the release of right hormones at the right time. We can categorise hormones into two types, basic survival hormones and thriving hormones. As in life, we’d first get our necessities in place: food, clothing, shelter, and then think about luxury: a bigger house, a fancy car, investments etc. Similarly, till your body doesn't feel like it’s survival is guaranteed, it won’t be able to thrive.

So we need to take care of the major hormones first, like balancing your insulin, leptin, cortisol, thyroid etc, then our body is able to allocate energy and nutrients to other hormones, that take care of better hair, skin, fertility etc.

Four basic things you can do to keep your survival hormones in check: 

1. Keep your gut health in check because your leptin hormone is produced there. Gut health and hormonal health go together and that’s a no brainer. Eliminate the pro-inflammatory foods like gluten, dairy and sugar. 

2. Keep a long gap between meals, four hours at least. A number of research studies show how this helps to keep your leptin and insulin balanced. If you like eating every two hours, just make sure you aren’t eating carbs every two hours, cause that will always keep your insulin levels high.

3. Stay in rest and relax mode. At any given point, we are either in rest and relax mode or 
we are in fight or flight mode. When we are in fight or flight, we are in overdrive mode. Too many of us struggle with this now because 
of increasing anxiety. Depression, constantly trying to meet deadlines, underlying anxiety 
and fear, unhealthy relationships put us in a constant state of stress. This stimulates the production of adrenalin which increases our blood sugar levels and fatty acids. The extra adrenalin and other stress hormones help provide extra energy on a cellular level and your body is again in survival mode so it does not have the luxury to do other things like digest food, repair cells, or encourage growth. When we are in rest and relax mode, the body is at ease and does not need to produce extra stress hormones.  Because of this, your body is more efficient, digesting everything, absorbing nutrients, giving you fuel to stay happy and motivated. So doing 10 minutes of deep breathing a few times a day is a great way to keep coming back into this phase.

4. Don’t skimp on calories. Eating less is the most torturous thing you can do to your body. Calories are like your body’s currency. Just like we cut down our expenses when we’re low on cash, our body finds ways to spend lesser calories when we eat less. Basically the metabolism is compromised, the body wants to store food as fat and not spend it to give energy. This takes a toll on your thyroid health as that’s one way to slow down your metabolism to ensure survival.

Rashi Chowdhary is a nutritionist and creator of The Protein Bake Shop. Got a problem? Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to friday@gulfnews.com.

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