Balancing hormones is complicated. But you have to start somewhere and there are some things you can do to help. This article will give you a good idea as to how much work you have to do.
For years I struggled with unbalanced hormones and it wasn’t until I started eating the right foods at the right times and lowering the stress in my life that they finally started being in harmony. Don’t get me wrong, I had eaten healthy and exercised almost every day with no success before I took matters into my own hands. Now all those issues are a thing of the past and I never want to go back to that way of life I’d learned to just accept.
I did a lot more than the seven tips I share below but if you start incorporating these simple things into your everyday life, you will be off to a great start.
1. Reduce Stress
Lower Stress: When we are stressed, the adrenals work overtime to protect us from what they consider physical stress (even though we are not really in danger). This is our fight or flight response. It causes the adrenals to produce higher levels of adrenaline and cortisol.
Because we can only produce adrenaline for a few seconds, our fight or flight response is dependent on excess cortisol, and this is where the havoc begins. Excess cortisol has been linked to depression, blood sugar problems, reproductive issues, anxiety and weight gain around the middle.
The key is to support the health of the adrenals with foods rich in B vitamins, vitamin C and potassium. Practicing meditation or deep breathing helps lower cortisol.
2. Get Proper Sleep
While we sleep a lot of things are happening in our bodies like cell and tissue regeneration; especially in our brains, natural healing and reducing inflammation, not to mention detoxing out things our bodies don’t need. These processes are most efficient during our third stage of sleep, so the more uninterrupted hours of sleep we get are better than long hours in bed with interruptions. If you find yourself waking up between midnight and three in the morning, your cortisol levels might be too high at the wrong times, tricking your body and preventing that healing process.
Sleep keeps stress hormones balanced and improves our energy for the following day, so do your best to develop a routine of going to bed at the same time regularly. When we don’t get enough good quality sleep the next day we reach for high sugar or high carbohydrate foods and stimulants to make it through the day.
3. Avoid Environmental Toxins
Many products in our everyday lives can contain what are known as xenoestrogens. These are man-made chemicals that mimic and act like natural estrogen in the body which can lead to a plethora of women’s health conditions such as estrogen dominance. Some very common xenoestrogens are one’s you’ve likely heard of before: BPA, PCBs, parabens, pesticides, and phthalates to name a few.
Start to become aware of these in your everyday travels and use glass containers and water bottles instead of plastic to avoid BPA, avoid harsh cleaning chemicals like bleach, switch to non-toxic cosmetics and makeup by avoiding parabens and eat organic when possible to avoid excessive exposure of pesticides.
4. Eat More Cruciferous Vegetables and Healthy Fats
Excess hormones like cortisol, estrogen and testosterone all need to be detoxed out of the body. This is a key process that the liver performs to make sure we do not suffer from the excess of these hormones. Supporting the health of the liver is critical to process them out successfully. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and kale, apples, grapefruit, garlic, onions, Jerusalem artichokes, lemons, limes and berries are just a few foods that help support the liver. These are high in Indol 3 Carbinols a compound that supports estrogen metabolism abd helps our bodies get rid of those excess metabolites.
Good fats like Omega 3 and 6’s, saturated and monounsaturated are also very important for hormone health because fat is a building block for manufacturing hormones especially cholesterol. They also support healthy weight and metabolism, cognitive function, a healthy heart and also reduce inflammation.
Some great ones to include in your daily diet are avocado, coconut, coconut oil, fatty fish like salmon, herring and tuna. Nuts and seeds make great snacks in between meals or as a condiment-sized portion with meals.
5. Reduce Caffeine and Stabilize Blood Sugar
Bad eating habits and stress can cause our blood sugar to swing up and down throughout the day. When our blood sugar drops, we can experience anger, fatigue, weakness and depression. Normally, we then receive a signal to do something such as a sugar craving or a desire for a coffee or a beer. If we respond to the craving and consume something, this will bring our blood sugar back up. Caffeine, sugar and alcohol all cause the blood sugar to swing up high. This causes a high insulin release, and too much insulin can affect other hormones.
To keep blood sugar stable, eat small meals throughout the day with fiber and/or protein. Blood sugar stabilizing foods such as Jerusalem artichokes, cinnamon, whole wheat and legumes can be very helpful. Lowering stress also helps keep blood sugar stable.
Replace your caffeine with an herbal tea to avoid this. Green tea is a great one because it has less caffeine but is high in polyphenols which support liver detoxification so the benefits will outweigh the negative in this case.
Studies show that exercise can help reduce stress (running from the bear to expel the extra adrenaline and cortisol). It also helps promote a healthy weight, a restful sleep and helps our digestion keep moving because bloating stresses our digestive tract due to inflammation.
Strenuous and vigorous exercise is a stress on the body so opting for lighter ones more often is a better option if you find yourself under a lot of stress. Yoga and walking are my favourites!
7. Consume Adaptogens
Adaptogens do just that in your body; help us adapt to stress and recover better. They are found in food and herbs. If you find you are under more stress or have increased anxiety you can try some of these.
Maca, Awshweghanda, Relora and Rhodiola
Mushrooms are also adaptogenic such as Chaga, lion’s mane, and reishi.
If you are interested in trying some of these, here is a link with about 6 different recommendations of high-quality professional-grade versions. Check for any interactions with medications or health conditions before ordering and they will be delivered right to your door!
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me. I would love to help you anytime!