Do you have your hormones under control? How do you even know if your hormones are out of whack? Signs of some hormonal imbalances may include acne, dry hair or skin, excessive facial hair, bloating, weight gain or loss, fatigue, and mood swings. If you seem to have issues balancing out your moods, energy levels, or body temperature, then perhaps you need a little hormone maintenance. The ebbs and flows and constant fluctuations of our hormones, especially for women, can be affected by stress, the foods we eat, and the lifestyle we lead, as well as the environment in which we live.
Tips restoring hormone balance
When it comes to balancing your hormones naturally, the right types of fats are a must. Fats such as omega 9 fats, also known as monounsaturated fats, which include avocados, almonds, and olive oil, are good fats that you should be incorporating into your daily eating routine. Short chain fatty acids found in certain grass-fed dairy products include beneficial probiotics and help your body produce a type of fatty acid called butyrate, which also aids the body in producing vitamin K2 and vitamin K12 to balance hormones. Omega 3 fats in chia seeds, flax seeds, walnuts, and salmon help balance out hormones as well. Medium chain fatty acids like coconut oil products are wonderful too, because they tell your body to use the medium chain fatty acid for energy, so you don’t crave the bad-for-you sweets and carbohydrates that may in turn cause mood and blood sugar to dip. And the last beneficial fat is an omega GLA fatty acid, or omega 6 fats from hemp products. Sprinkle hemp seeds on your salads or scoop them into your smoothies for a great mood and body booster.
Eliminate This and Add That
Eliminate insulin-producing foods and ingredients such as added sugar and processed foods. These two foods throw off the levels of estrogen and testosterone in the body. Most processed foods are also high in calories, fat, sodium, and low in nutrients. Eliminating dairy is also a good idea. Most conventional dairy is pumped with estrogen and could be contributing to the hormone problem. Also, drink your cup of coffee in the morning, but stick to just one or two cups. Too much can tax your adrenal glands and in turn tax your hormones. Eliminate the use of plastics in your home, which can release estrogen-mimicking hormone disruptors in the body when heated up (such as plasticware or microwave Tupperware and dinners). Switch to glass containers wherever possible.
You should also add in organic vegetables — as many of the colors of the rainbow as possible — because they are filled with vitamins and minerals. Also, add in high-quality lean meats and protein that have not been treated with antibiotics or added hormones and preservatives. Protein is very important because it influences the release of hormones that control appetite and food intake. Research shows that eating protein decreases levels of the “hunger hormone” called ghrelin and stimulates the production of hormones that help you feel full. Finally, add maca root powder, which is a great adaptogen that helps your body to better regulate hormones and is great at reducing mood swings and anxiety.
Move Your Body
Body movement or exercise can reduce insulin levels and increase insulin sensitivity. Insulin was mentioned earlier; in small amounts, it is beneficial. Too much leads to inflammation, poor blood sugar management, and hormonal imbalances. Insulin has many functions. For one, it allows cells to take up sugar and amino acids from the bloodstream, which are then used for energy and maintaining muscle. Exercising also boosts levels of the muscle-maintaining hormone testosterone, which declines with age. Many types of physical activity have been found to increase insulin sensitivity and reduce insulin levels, which is another reason why you should be moving your body each day.
Just Breathe and Relax
The busy and overwhelming life most people lead today cultivates stress, which is not good for your hormones. Two major hormones affected by stress are cortisol and adrenaline, also called epinephrine.
Put your phone, smart devices, and the tv remote down and get outside. Get some sunshine on your body and face and breathe in the fresh air outside. The negative ions of nature and the grounding benefits of walking in grass, sand, or dirt will help relax your central nervous system and keep your out-of-control stress hormones at bay.
Get Quality ZZZs
No matter how cleanly you eat, how many steps you take in a day, and how many avocados you eat, your endocrine system (the master controller of your body’s hormones) will not operate at an optimized level unless you are well-rested each night. Poor sleep has been linked to imbalances of many hormones, including insulin, cortisol, leptin, ghrelin, and growth hormone. Your brain needs quality, uninterrupted sleep that allows it to go through all five stages of each sleep cycle. This is especially important for the release of growth hormone, which occurs mainly at night during deep REM sleep. Inadequate or poor-quality sleep has also been shown to decrease fullness hormones, increase hunger and stress hormones, reduce growth hormone, and increase insulin resistance.
Hormonal imbalances can occur for a whole host of reasons, usually a combination of factors from genetics to lifestyle choices and your environment. Making a few mindful natural adjustments on how to manage and balance your hormones can help tremendously and get you feeling like that vibrant and happy YOU again.