5 WAYS TO BALANCE HORMONES NATURALLY
Article by Angela Sidlo
Photo by Danae Horst
Hormones — such as estrogen, progesterone, cortisol and insulin — are extremely important chemical messengers that affect many aspects of your overall health. Hormones are secreted by various glands and organs including your thyroid, adrenals, pituitary, ovaries and pancreas. The entire endocrine system works together to control the level of hormones circulating throughout your body, and if one or more is even even slightly imbalanced it can cause widespread, health problems. Literally, hormones determine everything about your health, your mood, even the food you choose!
Unfortunately western medicine looks at hormones as a separate specialty and not the key to good health. Thus, conventional treatments for hormonal imbalances usually include synthetic hormone replacement therapies, birth control pills, insulin injections, thyroid medications and more. The good news is there are ways to help balance your hormones naturally.
Signs & Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalances include
Infertility and irregular periods, weight gain or weight loss (that’s unexplained and not due to intentional changes in your diet), depression and anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, low libido, changes in appetite, digestive issues, hair loss and hair thinning.
Symptoms of hormonal imbalances can range drastically depending on what type of disorder or illness they cause. Some specific problems associated with some of the most common hormonal imbalances include estrogen dominance, polycystic ovarian syndrome, low estrogen, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, grave’s disease, diabetes and adrenal fatigue to name a few.
Hormonal imbalances are caused by a combination of factors such as your diet, medical history, genetics, stress levels and exposure to toxins from your environment. Some of the major contributors to hormonal imbalances including food allergies and gut issues: An ever expanding field of new research shows that your gut health plays a significant role in hormone regu- lation. The gut and the brain actually talk to each other and if the messages are not clear, health is compromised.
Here are 5 Ways to Balance Hormones Naturally
1 || Get Comfortable in the Kitchen
Good health and hormone balance begins in the kitchen with REAL food. There are literally hundreds of foods that help balance hormones by improving your immune system, managing stress on a cellular level and assure that nutrients will be utilized properly. It won’t be your favorite childhood recipes so learning new food combinations and keeping it playful will assure success. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is not designed to keep your body balanced so taking a Healthy Cooking Class or two can get you started in the right direction. Learn what foods are harmful and crowd those out as you crowd in the right food combinations. Some great hormone balancing foods are fermented foods, dark green leafy veggies and herbs like maca root and ashwaganda.
2 || Get Sugar Out of your Life
When it comes to sugar, what you don’t know can hurt you. If you eliminate sugar and artificial sweeteners from your life, you’ll liberate your body from the ravages of sugar in its many forms. Diabetes doesn’t strike only those who are overweight: 1 in 5 American adults of normal weight are pre-diabetic with elevated blood sugar levels. Even though these adults aren’t eating too many calories, their systems can’t handle the added sugar and refined carbs hiding in plain sight on their plates. To keep blood sugar in check, cut sugar and fast-digesting carbs as well. 4 grams of sugar equals 1 teaspoon. Start reading labels. The average Starbucks drink contains 45 grams of sugar!!!
3 || Reduce Stress & Get More Sleep
Unless you get 7-8 hours of sleep every night, you’re not doing your body any favors. A lack of sleep and disrupting your natural circadian rhythm can be one of the worst habits contributing to a hormone imbalance. Your hormones work on a schedule! Cortisol, the primary “stress hormone”, is regulated at midnight. Therefore, people who go to bed late never truly get a break from their flight/fight stress response.
A lack of sleep, long-term use of steroidal medications and chronic stress are three of the biggest contributors to high cortisol levels. Sleep helps keep stress hormones balanced, builds energy and allows the body to recover properly. To maximize hormone function, ideally try to get to bed by 10 p.m and stick with a regular sleep-wake-cycle as much as possible.
4 || Watch Your Caffeine & Alcohol Intake
Caffeine in moderate amounts might be okay for some people, but drinking too much caffeine can put you at risk for hormonal imbalance. Caffeine is a chemical that affects the central nervous system (CNS) and raises your heart rate, increases alertness, and changes the way your brain produces hormones. Try herbal teas instead. Dandelion and chickory make a wonder coffee-like beverage. Caffeine has been shown to increase insulin levels, reduce insulin sensitivity, and increase cortisol levels leading to weight gain.
Also watch your alcohol intake, since high levels of alcohol can negatively impact liver functioning. Alcohol consumption contributes to estrogen dominance and has been found to interfere with pancreatic functioning, increase liver disease risk and can cause anxiety. The liver is very important for hormonal balance and has over 500 different functions in the body!
5 || Use Quality Essential Oils
The limbic system is the oldest part of your brain. When an essential oil is detected by your olfactory nerve through your sense of smell, within a nanosecond it triggers chemical responses in the brain that send out a cascade of signals to neuroreceptors throughout the body that can balance hormones. Geranium and Clary Sage have an estrogenic effect on the body. Ylang Ylang and Cinnamon are aphrodisiacs and help to balance sex hormones. In studies, Jasmine has been beneficial in postpartum depression. Jean Valnet, a French Aromatherapist, pioneered research with essential oils that were successful with depression and anxiety.
It’s true that hormones dominate your body’s ability to stay balanced but you can make the right lifestyle and food choices to achieve good health. Talk with a Certified Health Coach to explore your options and learn more about balancing your hormones.