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Hormones play a major role when it comes to looking and feeling our absolute best. When they become out of balance it effects our mood, weight, digestion, fertility, skin and so much more.
Unfortunately many people resort to conventional treatments like synthetic hormone replacement therapies, insulin injections, thyroid mediation, and birth control pills. This only masks the patient’s symptoms while causing serious side effects like reproductive issues, depression, and cancer along the way.
Fortunately you can take control of your health and influence and balance your hormones naturally. In this article you’ll discover the main symptoms and causes of hormonal imbalances, and learn which practices are crucial to incorporate into your life to achieve happy, healthy hormones.
WHAT ARE HORMONES?
Hormones are chemical messengers that regulate body processes, and include oestrogen, testosterone, insulin and adrenaline. They are released by different parts of your body like the thyroid, ovaries, testicles, pituitary, and adrenals. The nervous and endocrine systems work together to control the balance of hormones running throughout the body.
WHAT DO HORMONES DO?
Hormones coordinate complex processes like growth and fertility while influencing the function of the immune system and behaviour. They also affect metabolism, sexual function, mood and so much more.
SYMPTOMS OF HORMONAL IMBALANCE
- unexplained weight gain or weight loss
- digestive issues
- hair loss and thinning
- low libido
CAUSES OF HORMONAL IMBALANCE
- being overweight or obese
- inflammation due to poor diet and lifestyle choices
- exposure to toxins and chemicals
- lack of sleep
- low Vitamin D levels
HOW TO BALANCE HORMONES NATURALLY
Harmful chemicals found in pesticides, household and body products, and plastics, contain hormone disrupting chemicals that mimic hormones in the body. This disrupts the endocrine system and prevents the body from producing hormones naturally.
You can reduce your exposure to these chemicals by eating organic produce, and using natural products in your home and on your body. Avoid storing hot food in plastic containers and cook in non-coated metal pans. If you are on a hormonal contraceptive, begin to wean off it immediately. It causes dangerous side effects including bleeding in-between cycles, increased risk of breast cancer, weight gain, mood changes, depression, nausea, breast tenderness, candida overgrowth and more.
AVOID PROCESSED AND REFINED FOODS
People these days are consuming way more omega-6 fatty acids from polyunsaturated fats than the body requires. This is found in vegetable oils like safflower, sunflower, corn, cottonseed, canola, soybean and peanut. These have an imbalanced ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids, and worse, they have been chemically altered. This means they aren’t stable and oxidise easily in the body which causes inflammation and mess with your hormones.
Other foods to avoid are dairy, gluten, coffee, processed sugar and alcohol. All of these irritate the gut and contribute to inflammation in the body. This particularly puts stress on the adrenals and thyroid glands which then wreaks havoc on your hormones.
EAT A HEALTHY DIET WITH HORMONE-BALANCING FOODS
Proper nutrients influence our body’s ability to produce hormones, and assist our liver to break down hormones that are no longer needed. Eating a whole food, plant based diet, rich in raw fruits and vegetables will help you maintain a healthy weight and prevent storage of excess fatty tissue. As research suggests, fat cells (particularly abdominal fat cells) are biologically active, producing hormones and other substances that can profoundly affect our health. It’s becoming clear that excess body fat disrupts the normal balance and functioning of hormones.
Obesity is also associated with inflammation in the fat tissue. Excessive fat storage leads to stress reactions within fat cells, which results in a weakened immune system, reduced function of organs and imbalance in hormones.
Healthy fats are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which we want more of, and is essential for proper cell function and hormone production. My favourite options are avocado, coconut meat, chia, flax and hemp seeds. Cruciferous vegetables including cabbage, broccoli, kale, cauliflower and bok choy contain a substance called indole-3-carbinol (I3C). This substance has shown evidence of controlling and balancing oestrogen while also preventing cancers, in particular breast cancer.
GET ENOUGH SLEEP
Making sure you get adequate sleep every night is crucial for keeping your body healthy and your hormones in balance. While you sleep your body is working extremely hard to eliminate toxins and rejuvenate the cells.
Making it a habit of not getting at least seven hours of sleep per night disturbs your natural circadian rhythm and contributes to hormonal imbalance. The Pineal gland regulates the balance of hormones circulating in the blood supply and also regulates sleep via melatonin and serotonin (feel good hormones). When you aren’t getting enough sleep, the levels of these hormones drop, which affects the reproductive hormonal balance.
A lack of sleep increases cortisol levels which has detrimental effects on the body and hormone balance. Hormones also influence glucose regulation and appetite control and are influenced by sleep.
EXPOSE YOUR SKIN TO SUNSHINE
Contrary to what the name might represent, Vitamin D is actually a Hormone, rather than a Vitamin. It is a precursor to a steroid hormone. It is crucial to maintain a healthy level of Vitamin D to experience optimal hormone health and ward off depression and anxiety.
Exposing your bare skin to sunlight is the best way to get Vitamin D. Ultraviolet rays convert Vitamin D into the form that our bodies use, and unlike food and supplement sources, it is very difficult to get too much Vitamin D this way.
How much sun do you need? It differs from person to person, but I recommend somewhere between 15-30 minutes per day. Don’t use sunscreen as that inhibits the absorption of Vitamin D from the sun. If you’re going to be in the sun for a long period of time, you can use coconut oil. From the research I’ve done, the conclusion I’ve reached is that for optimal health you want your levels to be between 125 and 200 nmol/l.
TAKE APPROPRIATE SUPPLEMENTS
Maca is a root from South America which is powerful at balancing hormones in the body. Maca’s adaptogenic properties mean it has a unique ability to “adapt” their function according to your body’s specific needs. For example if your oestrogen levels are too low, it will help your body naturally produce more. Maca is also rich in beneficial plant sterols that are biochemically related to hormones such as oestrogen and testosterone.
One study at Charles Sturt University in Australia, found that after taking maca for only four months, premenopausal women enjoyed a range of health benefits including weight loss, reduction in blood pressure and a boost in iron.
“Wild Yam cream is a natural source of progesterone precursors. What that means is it provides your body with the building blocks to make the hormone progesterone, which in turn converts to Oestrogen. The natural balance is reached by your body having the essential ‘ingredients’ at hand and as needed.” – Anna (Anna’s Wild Yam Cream)
A good quality Wild Yam Cream delivers its natural ingredients through the skin into your the blood stream, which then parks the active ingredients in the nearest fatty tissue (our natural storage facility) for use by your endocrine system. This enhanced the bodies natural hormone production to meet your body’s emotional, physical and reproductive needs.
If you’re someone who struggles with stress, then this is the perfect herb for you! Ashwagandha is an Ayurvedic herb best known for its ability to reduce stress and bring cortisol levels down. Stress plays a major factor in hormonal imbalance because it puts pressure on the adrenals, causing them to become overused. This results in a chain reaction affecting progesterone (calming hormone), fertility, and pregnancy in women.
Ashwagandha encourages hormone balance by working on the endocrine system and reducing inflammation. It also supports thyroid function which is important because the thyroid helps regulate the hormones.
I recommend the following supplements. They are a blend of Ashwagandha root and other herbs, designed to help regulate the proper hormone balance to support normal energy levels, superior vitality, and a balanced mood.
Exercise has an amazing effect on the endocrine system while also helping the body to release endorphins (the feel-good hormones) which enhances mood. Strength training build and maintains muscle mass which works to release and balance insulin and cortisol levels, lower oestrogen and balance the hormones.
Now I say exercise appropriately because long periods of intense exercise can actually make hormonal imbalance worse. If you want to do intense workouts, limit them to short burst of sprints, deadlifts, squats and lunges. Focus more on gentle exercises like walking, swimming yoga and rebounding.
The key to achieving balanced hormones is creating a solid foundation of healthy practices while providing your bodies with the nutrition it needs to produce all its hormones naturally. This will help you achieve a balanced mood, strong reproductive system, glowing skin and vibrant energy.