Hormones are complicated! This is true in everyone, but especially in women between menarche (the onset of menses) and menopause (the cessation of menses).
Hormones fluctuate daily and are influenced by a host of factors. Your well-being relies on a complex balance of many hormones, including cortisol, testosterone, estrogen, adrenaline, insulin, and thyroid hormone. Each of these plays an important role in supporting your body’s functions. Even a slight imbalance in hormone levels can wreak havoc, often in unexpected ways.
Our hormones often become imbalanced in response to problems within the body. An effective approach addresses any issues that trigger imbalances. A holistic framework restores hormonal balance naturally without side effects.
A Natural Approach To Hormone Balance
A natural approach to hormonal balance involves taking a close look at all facets of your lifestyle. The activities you perform, the attitude you have, and the things you consume all impact hormonal levels. Here are some proven steps to restore hormonal balance the natural way!
Prioritize protein and healthy fats in your diet.
Your sex hormones are made from cholesterol. While too high of cholesterol is worrisome and can clog arteries leading to a heart attack or stroke, too low of cholesterol can lead to low hormone levels. A Mediterranean-style diet, emphasizing healthy fats, fresh produce, lean protein, and seafood has been proven to be more effective for hormone regulation than the standard Western diet.
Instead of heavily processed carbs, choose foods high in healthy fats, especially those rich in omega-3 fatty acids, to reduce inflammation and stabilize blood sugar. Good sources of omega-3 include salmon, flaxseeds, cod liver oil, and walnuts.
Limiting processed and refined sugar is also an important dietary consideration. Excess processed sugar consumption disrupts the balance between hormones that control your appetite, ghrelin, and leptin. On the other hand, natural & complex sources of sugar like whole fruit, raw honey and other complex carbohydrates are much more ideal.
Supplement for healthy hormones.
It’s not always possible to meet your body’s needs through diet alone. Carefully selected and high-quality nutraceuticals can help ensure your body is receiving what it needs. As always, work with a healthcare practitioner when it comes to making informed supplement choices.
Some effective herbs and nutrients for hormonal balance include:
- Vitamin D: Many people who live in the northern hemisphere experience low levels of vitamin D, which plays an essential role in balancing estrogen and progesterone, as well as helping to stabilize insulin levels.
- Evening primrose oil: This is particularly effective in regulating hormones that contribute to premenstrual or menopausal symptoms.
- Probiotics: A healthy gut is essential for healthy hormone production. Maintain a good balance of bacteria in the gut microbiome by eating fermented foods like kefir and sauerkraut, and adding probiotics supplements when needed.
- Ashwagandha: This adaptogenic herb helps control the stress hormone cortisol and maintain insulin levels. It can also boost testosterone production.
- Holy basil: Another adaptogenic herb, holy basil is particularly effective in balancing stress hormones.
- Functional mushrooms: Note that these aren’t hallucinogenic mushrooms, but rather specific types of mushrooms with adaptogenic properties, which means they help your body’s response to stress, among other benefits. Functional mushrooms include chaga, lion’s mane, and turkey tail. Be sure to work with a practitioner to discuss which ones would be of benefit to you.
Integrate stress relief techniques.
Your body is wired to survive and reproduce but if survival is threatened by chronic stress, hormone production is impacted by putting your body into “fight or flight” mode. The elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol can then increase cravings for carb-heavy processed foods, triggering a harmful dietary cycle. Estrogen and insulin levels are also affected by stress, which can then throw off the production of other hormones.
Gaining control of stress can help regulate these patterns. Try clearing a few minutes a day specifically for something relaxing, like meditation, yoga, journaling, or listening to music. Every little bit of time specifically focused on relaxation will help your health.
Get enough sleep.
If you’re not getting between seven to nine hours of sleep at night, your body’s hormone production could be dys-regulated. Sleep is when your body restores itself, a process that affects stress and hormones related to appetite, in particular.
If you are chronically sleep deprived, focus on creating a restful and regular nighttime routine. Sleep in a cool, quiet room and avoid stimulating activities, including time on any electronic devices as you wind down.
Take a close look at your prescription medications.
Many commonly prescribed medications can have inadvertent side effects when it comes to your hormones, including statins, painkillers, and some anti-depressants. Talk with your pharmacist and us (if you choose to work with us) about the risk of any medications you take. Natural alternatives that support hormonal health are often available.
Birth control pills rely on disruptions to your natural hormonal cycles to be effective. However, those disruptions can put women at risk of complications from imbalances, including mood swings, bloating, spotting, and acne. Again, there are many alternatives if you experience bad side effects from birth control pills.
Replace toxic body care products.
An often-overlooked source of hormone disruption comes from the beauty and body care industry. Many common ingredients in skin care products and makeup contain parabens and phthalates that have been shown to affect levels of certain hormones.
Instead, you can use essential oils. Many of these have the added benefit of supporting hormonal health. For example:
- Clary sage oil can ease menstrual symptoms.
- Sandalwood oil helps treat anxiety and stress.
- Thyme oil contains a substance called carvacrol that helps produce serotonin and dopamine, two hormones that play a big role in your mood.
Don’t take any unnecessary risks with artificial hormone therapy. Natural interventions can restore hormonal balance for a healthier you. Balancing hormones begins with balancing the adrenal glands to optimize cortisol and other sex hormones. At Best Life Functional Medicine, we always start there. Reach out if you’d like to start with us on our proven path to hormone success.
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