Feeling cranky and irritable the past few days? Are you experiencing irregular menstruation, weight gain, bloating, water retention and menstrual pain (dysmenorrhea)?
If you are experiencing some or most of these symptoms, you may have hormonal imbalance! Treating hormonal imbalance can be confusing for many women like you but the good news is,there are plenty of ways to balance hormones naturally.
The key to making sure you balance hormones naturally is through simple changes in lifestyle and nutrition. While they cannot be corrected immediately, hormonal imbalance symptoms can improve by implementing small changes over time.
6 Causes of Hormone Imbalance Nobody Told You Before
Did you know our body needs healthy fats to maintain balanced hormone levels? That’s why a lack of this vital dietary element can lead to hormonal issues, simply because the body does not have the raw ingredients to manufacture them. Hormones act as messengers in our body, and despite their size, these tiny molecule messengers can wreak havoc on your internal system when they are not in perfect balance. Okay, we better not discuss hormones too much more and instead let me reveal the six causes of hormonal imbalance:
1. Lack of proper nutrition – Good nutrition gives our bodies the nutrients necessary for bodily functioning. For you to understand how to balance hormones naturally, it is best to talk to a nutrition therapist who can recommend specific diets for restoring your healthy hormonal state.
2. Hormone replacement therapy – women on ‘the pill’ tend to experience hormonal imbalance even after they stop taking the pill.
3. Stress – adrenal glands produce stress-fighting hormones but if they get exhausted and overworked due to chronic stress, they may not be able to perform their job.
4. Chemicals – stimulants such as caffeine, medications, hormones and toxins in food, water and air can interfere with the natural hormone balance. Another way to balance hormones naturally is to lessen, if not stop, taking harmful chemicals that can mimic the function of ooestrogen.
5. Glandular imbalance/Insulin – endocrine glands plays a vital role in the production of female hormones. However, they can be affected negatively by different conditions such as illnesses, drugs, stress or extreme dieting.
6. Pregnancy – pregnancy and the post-partum period can be a roller coaster ride for your hormone production. This can be worsened by poor health during and after childbirth.
Now that you have an idea of how hormonal imbalance develops, the next thing you need to learn is how to realign your hormonal state and balance your hormones the natural way. Below, I summed up the five best ways that you can apply into your daily practice. These are very easy, doable healthy practises and I am positive that you can do them yourself successfully.
Your Guide to Balance Hormones Naturally
1. Reduce sugar from your diet
How can something that tastes so good (like this yummy cake on the right) be so bad for your health and hormone balance? Sugar, when taken excessively, can take a toll on your overall health.
One of the most common forms of hormonal imbalance is ooestrogen dominance– a condition wherein there is an excessive level of ooestrogen and low progesterone. Sugar promotes weight/fat gain and since fat cells generate ooestrogen, it can cause an ooestrogen overload in the body.
Also, excessive sugar consumption can cause internal inflammation (which predisposes unpleasant PMS symptoms), weakens the immune system and sucks essential nutrients from your body (think about B vitamins which are vital for the production of happy hormones).
2. Include phytooestrogens in your diet
Another way to balance hormones naturally is by eating foods rich in phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are plant hormones found in grains and whole foods such as flax seed and soy.
One of the most commonly used phytonutrients is phytooestrogen. It is a form of phytonutrients that has been used since olden times for alleviating menopausal symptoms in women and restoring hormonal balance. The National Cancer Institute states that phytooestrogen is a plant chemical that has oestrogen-like qualities. These qualities must be clarified though, as many women think that consuming phytooestrogens such as red clover and soy as a hormonal imbalance remedy will increase their ooestrogen levels more and raise their risk of developing breast cancer.
However, plant oestrogens do not react the same way as the female hormone oestrogen, nor do they have similar negative effects as the artificial oestrogen used in HRT (hormone replacement therapy). The only way they resemble the oestrogen in their structure, as they can loosely attach to the body’s oestrogen receptors like a human oestrogen molecule. This mimicking ability provides phytooestrogens the innate balancing advantage because they can substitute for oestrogen when there are considerable low levels, or stop mimicking during oestrogen dominance phases. This keeps the oestrogen highs and lows at bay.
On the other hand, you also have to understand that phytooestrogens do not have the ability to increase the level of naturally-occurring oestrogen in the body.
Below are examples of herbs that can balance hormones naturally and can alleviate hormonal imbalance symptoms.
Fermented soy (Glycine max) – Based on studies, it can reduce the severity and frequency of menopausal discomforts, especially hot flashes, vaginal dryness and night sweats.
Red Clover (Trifoliumpratense) – the phytoestrogen content of red clover can bind to oestrogen receptors. It can balance hormones naturally and relieve symptoms of oestrogen dominance.
Dong quai (Angelica sinensis) – is used for women with menopausal symptoms, particularly hot flashes and dysmenorrhea, as well as too frequent/lack of menstruation.
Licorice (Glycyrrhizaglabra) – Its root is used as relief for PMS. Licorice is believed to lower oestrogen while increasing progesterone levels. It helps relieve hormonal imbalance symptoms.
Chaste tree (Vitex agnus castus) – Once used for suppressing libido in women, this plant has been revered for mimicking the calming effect of progesterone.
Black Cohosh (Cimicifugaracemosa) –is a widely known herb for relief of menstrual discomfort.
Ashwagandha (Withaniasomnifera) – is a unique herb with libido-lifting and mood-soothing abilities. Based on recent researches, ashwagandha can balance hormones naturally by increasing the production of DHEA, testosterone and androgens.
3. Enjoy cruciferous vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables are packed with essential nutrients such as Vitamins A, B, C, D and E, and zinc. These vegetables have been recognised as medicinal food for hormonal imbalance. They are also naturally high in fibre, help balance hormones naturally and help improve liver detoxification. In a study on cruciferous vegetables, scientists found out that they contain a significant element called Indole-3-Carbinol, which is found to have a positive effect on oestrogen metabolism.
To understand it simply, the element helps the body get rid of excess oestrogen and changes unhealthy oestrogen molecules to healthy forms. This process involves highly complex chemistry for which we won’t bother getting into here.
As a vegetable known to balance hormones naturally, cruciferous veggies should be included in your diet. It is better to eat them raw or slightly steamed to make sure the nutrients are still intact and readily absorbed. You can snack on steamed cauliflower or broccoli with your favourite dressings, or make a kale salad for lunch or dinner.
4. Check your gut
A lot of hormonal imbalance symptoms in women such as depression, sugar craving, weight gain, fluid retention and fatigue can be linked to digestive issues. The gut is a non-glandular organ but it significantly helps the endocrine system to produce hormones that affect our mood, sleep, appetite, reproductive health and energy.
If you eat refined, highly processed, sugar packed, nutrient-deficient foods, then the unpleasant PMS symptoms make perfect sense. You have to eat foods that your body needs and appreciates – clean, nutritious and organic as possible. This will help your system clean itself of wastes and toxins and balance hormones naturally.
If you are feeling bloated, lethargic and sluggish, you might be intolerant or allergic to certain types of food. Specific herbs that help heal your gut include aloe vera, slippery elm, goldenseal, zinc, Vitamin B6, marshmallow root and manuka.
5. Steer clear from hormone disrupters
Your environment can be a hindrance in your effort to balance hormones naturally. Every day, you encounter thousands of synthetic chemicals from the food and water you consume and the air you breathe. They are often used in pesticides, food processing, in medicines or added in packaging.
Many of these substances can cause havoc to your fragile endocrine system. They usually imitate oestrogen, causing disruption of normal oestrogen function. These substances are recognized as ‘xenooestrogens’. They confuse the body by sending similar hormonal messages and can even affect reproductive health.
Here are some guidelines on how to avoid hormone disrupters
1. Avoid drinking water from plastic bottles.
2. Avoid eating or buying food placed in plastic containers, or wrapped in plastic film.
3. If possible, eat organic foods and use certified natural skin and beauty products and even natural household cleaning items.
4. Refrain from storing oily/fatty foods in plastics. Instead, wrap them in paper bag.
Your hormonal state is a highly complex system that will never be understood completely. However, there are some simple things that you can do in order to balance hormones naturally. There’s no need for synthetic treatments; simply follow the guides above to transform your hormonal state to its healthy, optimal function.
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