With high stress lifestyles, poor diets, environmental toxins and many other contributing factors, hormone imbalance is extremely common. Although there’s a wide range of symptoms, complaints often include: fatigue, weight gain, sexual health issues, poor brain function, irritability, anxiety, depression, skin issues, digestive issues, sleep issues, weakened immunity, bone loss, and too much/little hair.
Hormone imbalance affects every aspect of health. As with everything in the body, hormones are intricately connected. When you support one hormone it helps balance all hormones. The more balanced a woman’s hormones are, the easier the three P’s will be: periods (PMS), pregnancy (and post pregnancy), peri-menopause (and menopause).
Optimize hormone balance at any age by learning how to reduce stress on the body with a healthy diet and lifestyle.
10 Tips For Happier Hormones
1. Focus on Food
The best way to start supporting your hormones is to stabilize blood sugar levels by eating regular, balanced meals and snacks consisting of quality protein, natural fats and colorful vegetables. Set-up each day for success by eating a protein-rich breakfast and planning/packing meals and snacks ahead of time.
Ditch foods that wreak havoc on hormones, such as processed foods, inflammatory foods (sugar, gluten, food sensitivities), man-made fats, and omega-6 rich oils (canola, corn, safflower, sunflower, soybean, cottonseed, and peanut). Excess omega-6s promote inflammation and interfere with hormone function.
Befriend natural fats, especially animal fats (grass-fed butter, pastured eggs) and omega-3s (wild salmon, sardines, chia seeds, walnuts and grass-fed animal products). They’re truly your BFF for hormone balance as they provide the precursor nutrients needed to make hormones.
2. Choose Better Beverages
Hydrate each morning with water or herbal tea and pack a reusable bottle/mug to refill throughout the day. Avoid drinking out of anything plastic. Sweeten with stevia and cinnamon if needed. Beware caffeine and alcohol as they can spike insulin levels, which increases your stress-hormone cortisol.
Instead of trying the latest fad diet, taking a bunch of supplements or starting hormone replacement therapy, you want to figure out what caused the hormone imbalance by using functional lab work. Functional labs are especially beneficial if you’re eating well and living a healthy lifestyle, but still not getting results.
4. Plan Relaxation Time
Is it a coincidence stressed spelled backwards is desserts? Prevent stress-eating and reduce stress by planning daily relaxation such as yoga, breathing exercises, meditation, journaling (gratitude), nature walks, lavender baths, or anything else you enjoy. Use a mindfulness app for support.
5. Get Better Sleep
Maximize hormone function by going to bed by 10:30 pm and aiming for 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Promote more restful sleep by creating a relaxing, clean, cool, comfortable and dark sleep environment. Wind down an hour before bed by relaxing and reducing artificial light (Himalayan salt lamp, f.lux).
6. Move Your Body
Too little and too much exercise can be harmful for your health. Listen to your body to find the right amount and intensity of movement you need. Proper movement leaves you feeling renewed, not ragged. Nature walks and yoga are excellent forms of exercise and stress-reduction.
7. Reduce Daily Toxins
Toxins are major endocrine disruptors and can mimic estrogen in the body. Reduce toxins by filtering water, eating organic, passing on plastics and selecting more natural beauty, hygiene and household items. Read all labels and use EWG’s app to find healthier products. Lastly, use functional labs to identify internal toxins.
8. Love Your Liver
A congested liver can’t metabolize hormone properly. First, get your bowels moving to prevent toxins from being reabsorbed. Next, nourish your liver by consuming plenty of antioxidants (berries, cacao), bitters (dandelion, chicory) and detoxifying foods (cilantro, lemons). Support gentle regular detoxification with skin brushing, castor oil packs, epsom baths, infrared saunas, liver cleanses and coffee enemas.
9. Strengthen Gut Health
Good gut health is essential for hormone balance and overall health. Get to the root cause by addressing underlying gut/digestive issues. Create a better balanced internal environment by strengthening your gut with probiotics, cultured foods (kefir, kraut, kimchi, kombucha), and homemade bone broth.
10. Supplement For Support
Choose high quality supplements targeted to your individual needs. Adaptogens (holy basil, ashwagandha, maca), fermented cod liver oil (vitamin A, vitamin D, omega-3s), probiotics, collagen, gelatin, and magnesium can be beneficial for many. With the help of a health practitioner, the short-term use of natural, bio-identical hormone drops can help re-establish hormone pathways.
Cate Ritter is a Certified Functional Diagnostic Nutrition® Practitioner in the Monterey Bay Area specializing in weight loss, digestive health and hormone balance. Online, lifestyle and corporate health programs available.