When it comes to health, our hormones play a much bigger effect than many realize. When our hormones are regulated, we feel great. Our mood is stable, we have lots of energy, our weight is healthy, our sex drive is on fire, and our skin is glowing and beautiful. However, when our hormones start to get out of balance, unpleasant symptoms begin to arise causing major health issues in the long run.
COMMON SIGNS OF HORMONAL IMBALANCE:
Hair loss or thinning
Dry or sagging skin
Breakouts or acne
Weight gain or weight loss
Unstable blood sugar levels
PMS or irregular periods
Many women are turning to synthetic treatments like the birth control pill or hormone replacement therapy to help regulate their hormones, but unfortunately, these drugs only cover up the symptoms, acting like a band-aid instead of getting to the root cause. But don’t worry, if you aren’t interested in going the conventional route there is a natural way to go about this! To start, let’s take a closer look at those potential root causes.
Poor Gut Health
Our gut plays a significant role in hormone regulation.
Poor Liver Health
Our liver is our main detoxification organ and is responsible for eliminating metabolized hormones.
Blood Sugar Imbalances
When our blood sugar is stable, it helps to regulate and balance our hormones.
Chronic stress, quality of sleep and toxic load all have adverse effects on our hormones.
When these four factors become out of balance, it can have a significant effect on our hormones. The good news is there are many ways to balance our hormones naturally with diet and lifestyle modifications.
BALANCE YOUR HORMONES – NATURALLY.
1.) Go Organic
Many pesticides, fertilizers and growth hormones used in conventional foods are endocrine disruptors, which are chemicals that interfere with your endocrine system. For example, pesticides add synthetic hormones to your body in the form of xenoestrogens, which confuse your body’s complex hormonal conversation and congest your liver, making it harder to process and eliminate excess hormones.
Organic foods are also more nutrient-dense, which helps to reduce any inflammation that may contribute to hormonal imbalance. I understand that going 100% organic is not in everyone’s budget, BUT if you can prioritize the foods that make the most impact, such as, animal products (meat and dairy) and the Dirty Dozen list of produce, you can make a huge difference in your health.
2.) Reduce Exposure to Hormone Disruptors
Just like pesticides, harmful chemicals found in plastics, household cleaners, beauty products and even mattresses all contain xenoestrogens, and other compounds that mimic hormones in the body. Luckily, making a few lifestyle changes can help reduce your exposure to these chemicals.
Avoid non-stick pans and instead use stainless steel, titanium, ceramic, or cast iron.
Exchange plastic bottles and food containers for stainless steel or glass.
Switch to clean beauty products and avoid products with parabens, phthalates, petroleum, glycol ethers and perfume/fragrance.
Avoid BPA-lined cans BUT be careful because many “BPA-free” products contain a form of bisphenol that is thought to be even worse.
Drink filtered or fresh spring water.
Save money and make your own household cleaning products. There are a lot of DIY recipes online.
3.) Eat Your Brassica Veggies
As I briefly mentioned earlier, the liver is responsible for eliminating and metabolizing hormones. It needs to work efficiently to make space for new hormones and prevent old ones from recycling. The brassica family (broccoli, cauliflower, collards, kale, cabbage, brussels sprouts, bok choy, and turnips) contain a powerful hormone balancer called indole-3 carbinol. This compound helps break down estrogen and aids in detoxification processes.
4.) Include Protein, Fibre and Fat at Every Meal
To heal our hormones, we must address our blood sugar imbalances. To do this, it’s essential that we are eating three well-balanced meals a day that include some form of quality protein, healthy fat and lots of fibre from vegetables.
5.) Eliminate Gluten, Sugar and Dairy
Probably the most challenging suggestion of all, but extremely important because these three foods cause the most inflammation to the body. In my practice, I’ve seen dairy and gluten to be two of the most common food allergies and sensitivities within my clients, especially from women who suffer from hormone-related issues. By going gluten and dairy free, I’ve seen considerable improvements in their health. For example, their inflammation decreases, nutrient absorption improves, and elimination and detoxification become more efficient than before.
As for sugar, it substantially impacts your blood sugar levels as well as interferes with hunger hormones, robs your body of essential micro-nutrients, feeds “bad” gut bacteria and depletes your adrenal glands.
6.) Include Bitter Foods into Your Diet
Bitter foods stimulate the liver to produce bile, an important role in hormonal balance. Bile is responsible for digesting and absorbing dietary fats and fat-soluble substances such as vitamins A, D, E and K, as well as excess estrogens. I like to think of bile as Pac-man, gobbling up fat-soluble toxins and escorting them into the intestines to be processed and eventually eliminated into the toilet. If your bile isn’t flowing, you may have difficulty removing excess estrogens.
Foods for Decongesting Bile Include:
7.) Eat More Fermented Foods
The estrobolome (a certain set of bacteria) in your gut is responsible for metabolizing estrogen. For this reason, it is essential that we are supporting our gut bacteria to make sure these metabolized hormones are being ushered out of the body. By eating fermented foods every day such as sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, or miso we can promote proliferating good bacteria.
8.) Eat Healthy Fats
Fats are the building blocks of hormones, so it’s essential that you get enough healthy fats in your diet.
Extra-virgin olive oil
9.) Avoid Oils High in Omega-6
Seed-based vegetable oils like canola, corn, sunflower, safflower, soybean and peanut are high in Omega-6 fatty acids. These fats oxidize quickly in the body, leading to inflammation. These fats are everywhere in processed foods and used in most restaurants. Whether we mean to or not, we end up consuming way too many Omega-6 fatty acids and not enough of the good anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fatty acids. Reduce your Omega-6’s by eliminating processed foods from your diet and load up on Omega-3’s by adding in wild-caught fish, algae, flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts and grass-fed animal products.
10.) Limit Caffeine and Minimize Alcohol Consumption
Drinking too much caffeine can increase insulin levels, elevate cortisol levels, increase estrogen levels, deplete micro-nutrients essential for hormone balance and wreak havoc on the endocrine system. If you need a boost of energy, try matcha green tea, which has less caffeine than coffee. Or choose a caffeine-free herbal tea like tulsi, roasted dandelion or chai.
As for alcohol, it puts a burden on the gut and liver and disrupts blood sugar stability. Most of us aren’t going to cut out alcohol completely – even I like to drink socially, BUT you can minimize your consumption significantly.
Here are a few tips:
Never drink on an empty stomach – eat a meal or snack with protein and healthy fats to slow glucose uptake.
Be sure to take a B vitamin complex before you go out and another the next morning because your liver needs these vitamins to break down the alcohol.
Drink a big glass of warm lemon water upon waking to help flush your system.
11.) Add More Herbs into Your Diet
Certain herbs and plants can also help the body bring hormones into balance. Of course, it is essential to talk to a health care practitioner before taking these, but here are a few of my personal favourites.
Vitex/Chaste Tree Berry
This herb nourishes the pituitary gland and helps lengthen the luteal phase. It also lowers prolactin and raises progesterone. For some women, this alone will improve symptoms. It is available in tincture or capsule form.
Red Raspberry Leaf
A well-known fertility herb that is also helpful in reducing PMS symptoms and cramping. It has a high nutrient profile and is exceptionally high in calcium and is a uterine tonic. It is available in capsule form but makes an excellent hot or cold tea.
These are herbs that help the body handle stress and support the adrenals. They are a great and natural way to work toward hormonal balance. One of my favourite hormonal balancing adaptogens is Maca. Maca helps to improve fertility, reduce PMS symptoms and help improve skin and hair. It is available in powdered form, which is my personal favourite because I like adding it to my smoothies, but I’ve also seen it in tincture and capsule form.
Disclaimer: This blog post is for educational purposes only. It is not designed to diagnose, treat or cure. We are all unique, for your individual health concerns, it is essential to discuss these with a Holistic Nutritionist or relevant health professional.