13 Apr 2023

5 Steps to Balance Your Hormones Naturally

Hormones have a profound impact on your cognitive, physical and emotional health.

They are chemicals produced by glands in the endocrine system and released into the bloodstream. They work together as an ensemble in an orchestra and impact your body’s functioning. When there is an imbalance (either too much or too little of a hormone), it shows.

For example, in a woman’s life, the balance between the sex hormones, progesterone, and oestrogen, is critical. A relative excess of oestrogen, called oestrogen dominance, is associated with an increased risk of endometriosis, fibroids, oestrogen-sensitive cancers, and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). When your hormones are out of balance in your 40s and 50s, it can present as a change in your periods, weight gain, mood fluctuations, anxiety, hot flashes, insomnia, lower sex drive, water retention, brain fog, and fatigue.

Here are five steps you can take to support your hormonal health:

1. Manage your stress levels

What does have stress got to do with hormones? Any event that you find stressful (i.e., a deadline at work) activates your body’s production of stress hormones. Cortisol and adrenaline are released. This “fight or flight response” causes more blood to flow, increases your heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing so you can get more oxygen and power away from the “perceived” tiger chasing you.

Your body can’t tell the difference between a work deadline and an actual physical threat. Our immediate survival is prioritized over our ability to reproduce. While short-term stress is fine, chronic, constant stress will cause your body to release more and more cortisol, which will disturb the natural balance of your hormones and may lead to weight gain, disturbed sleep, appetite changes, and anxiety.

TIP Practice some form of self-care daily to help you effectively manage stress. While some of us relax with a skincare routine, others may enjoy walking in nature, practicing meditation, yoga, and breath work… Managing your stress levels is essential to balance your hormones.

2. Eat to beat blood sugar imbalances

One of the most important dietary factors for balancing hormones is to keep your blood sugar level even. Have you ever wondered why, in your 40s and 50s, you may not get away with eating the same food you used to? Your body has changed, and you may need to change the way you eat.

The changes that happen in relation to oestrogen and progesterone during perimenopause, as well as the drop of oestrogen that occurs during menopause, are likely to make your body less sensitive to insulin, the fat storage hormone. Insulin is produced in response to us eating sugars and carbohydrates. As a side effect, we tend to redistribute body fat and excess pounds around the abdominal area.

TIP Switch to a low GL (glycaemic load) diet that balances your blood sugar levels. This means you will be eating foods that do not trigger as much insulin secretion in response to what you eat. A blood sugar-balancing diet focuses on “real” food: meat, fish, eggs, tofu, lentils, beans and chickpeas, lots of vegetables, some fruit, nuts, seeds, and wholegrains.

3. Eat functional foods

These are foods that support optimal health in the body. During midlife, that means incorporating “phytoestrogens” into your daily routine. Phytoestrogens are natural plant-based chemicals, which are structurally similar to oestrogen. They resemble oestrogen in the body yet have a much milder effect. Research suggests that they help regulate hormonal balance. Phytoestrogens are particularly helpful for women because they can both modulate excess oestrogen and exert low estrogenic activity when needed.

TIP Consume a variety of foods rich in phytoestrogens such as soybeans (and related products such as tofu, tempeh, miso, and natto), flaxseeds, sesame, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, lentils, beans, chickpeas, broccoli, onions, garlic, etc.

While short-term stress is fine, chronic, constant stress will cause your body to release more and more cortisol, which will disturb the natural balance of your hormones and may lead to weight gain, disturbed sleep, appetite changes, and anxiety.

4. Support your liver and gut health

An essential pillar of hormonal balance is your liver and its ability to detoxify hormones. The liver is the body’s detoxification system: it absorbs everything you ingest or put on your skin and removes waste and toxins. For instance, oestrogens, whether natural or “synthetic” (e.g., contraceptive pill, HRT) are transformed by the liver so that they can be excreted in urine and/or bowels. If the liver is not functioning optimally, oestrogen may recirculate in your blood instead of being eliminated, which may lead to excess oestrogen in the body.
Sex hormones are also connected to your gut health. The estrobolome is a collection of bacteria in the gut responsible for detoxifying and metabolising oestrogen. A healthy, diverse gut microbiome with a rich collection of different bacteria is critical for hormonal balance.

TIP Increase your fiber intake through vegetables, fruits, wholegrains, and legumes to support a healthy gut microbiome and promote regular stool frequency. Eat cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, radishes, and kale to support your liver’s ability to process oestrogen. Cruciferous vegetables are rich in indole 3-carbinol, a substance that promotes oestrogen detoxification.

5. Limit your exposure to hormone disruptors

One of the fundamental root causes of hormonal imbalances is endocrine disruptors. These toxic chemicals are found everywhere in our environment (e.g., cosmetics, plastics, polystyrene, pesticides, herbicides, meats, dairy products, etc.). They disrupt normal hormone function and have been linked to health effects such as infertility, early menopause, polycystic ovarian syndrome, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, and hormonal cancers.

TIP
– Eat organic as much as possible to reduce your exposure to pesticides and hormones.
– Limit toxic substances in your cosmetics and cleaning products.
– Avoid heating food in plastic containers and using plastic food wrap. Choose glass instead. Stay away from buying water in plastic bottles and invest in a good water filter.
– Visit the Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org) to determine which fruits and vegetables are best to buy organic and ensure the safety of cosmetics and other personal care products.

 

Whether you decide to reduce your sugar consumption, increase your vegetable intake or go for a ten-minute walk every morning, these nutritional and lifestyle interventions will contribute to restoring a natural hormonal balance and improve the way you feel physically and mentally. Simple changes can lead to big results.

 

Book your COMPLIMENTARY 30-MINUTE CALL and together we can discuss the best ways to support your health.

 

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