In this post, we look at what hormonal imbalances are, and the ways women can naturally balance their hormone levels.
What is a hormonal imbalance?
Hormone imbalances are when you have too much, or too little of a certain hormone in the body and the slightest change can be enough to have a drastic effect on your whole body. For women, a hormone imbalance often happens when estrogen levels, cortisol levels, and progesterone levels are all out of sync.
While some hormone levels fluctuate throughout your life and are often the result of getting older, they can happen to any woman throughout her lifetime.
What are some warning signs and symptoms of a hormone imbalance?
The main signs and symptoms of a hormone imbalance are:
- Weight gain and weight loss
- Mood swings
- Vaginal dryness
- Night sweats and hot flashes
- Changes to the menstrual cycle (irregular periods)
What causes a hormonal imbalance?
The endocrine system is incredibly complex, meaning that there’s no single cause of hormone imbalance.
There are a few key factors that can disrupt your hormone balance, including:
- Being overweight
- Hormone replacement therapy
- Poor diet
- Poor sleep
- Lack of exercise
- High caffeine, sugar, or alcohol consumption
What are the best ways someone can balance their hormones naturally?
A healthy diet and other healthy lifestyle habits may help improve your hormonal health and allow you to feel and perform your best.
Below are 5 natural ways to improve your hormone health.
When your adrenal glands oversecrete the stress hormone cortisol, other hormones, including insulin, become disrupted which can lead to inflammation.
A diet rich in oily fish, whole grains and high fibre foods can help to reduce inflammation. Similarly, adopting this style of diet can also help to reduce the breast cancer risk during and after menopause too.
Physical activity, whether in your living room, the gym or local beauty spot is essential for keeping your physical and mental health in check.
Exercise influences hormonal health – it increases hormone receptor sensitivity and reduces insulin levels meaning that your muscles can use glucose for energy. Exercise has also been linked to preventing insulin resistance too, with cardio and interval training helping this.
Exercising regularly has also been proven to boost levels of hormones that decline with age, such as testosterone and HGH (human growth hormone).
Take magnesium supplements
Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant, and research completed by the University of Edinburgh in 2015 has shown that it helps to reduce stress, promotes better sleep, and is incredibly useful for relieving premenstrual syndrome too, all of which are common symptoms of a hormone imbalance.
Make diet and lifestyle changes
Eating a balanced diet that is rich in lean protein, healthy fats, and plenty of soluble fibres can help to balance your hormones, regulate your appetite, and boost your mood.
Ensuring you have a good amount of lean protein in your diet is incredibly important. Not only is protein important for muscle repair and cell replenishment, but it also contains essential amino acids that your body can’t make by itself including Peptide hormones.
Peptide hormones are incredibly important for regulating many of the processes in the body including growth, metabolism, appetite, stress, and reproduction.
Research has shown that a diet rich in protein decreases the hunger hormone, and stimulates hormones that make you feel full, which in turn can lead to weight loss – particularly helpful if you need to shift those extra pounds.
Experts recommend consuming around 20-30g of protein per meal. This can be done easily by including a fist full of high protein foods on your plate including lean meats and poultry, fish, lentils, or legumes.
Adding high-quality healthy fats to your diet can help to reduce insulin resistance and keep you fuller for longer.
Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) are more easily digested than longer-chain fatty acids meaning they are more likely to be used by your liver for energy – this can help to promote weight loss and can be incredibly useful for high-fat diets such as keto.
Healthy fats such as omega-3 also help to increase insulin sensitivity by reducing inflammation and may prevent cortisol levels from increasing when stressed.
Healthy fats are found in a range of foods including avocados, coconut oil, almonds and oily fish so consider adding these foods to your diet.
Ensuring you’re consuming enough soluble fibres is incredibly important for hormone balance. If you’re not going to the toilet enough, that means estrogen isn’t processed by the liver, causing estrogen levels to remain high.
Excess estrogen can be the cause of many problems including bloating, headaches, irregular periods, anxiety, weight gain and memory problems. It can also decrease your sex drive too.
Eating plenty of fibre will help you go to the toilet, and going to the toilet regularly is one of the best things you can do for hormone balance and gut health in general.
If you’re a woman under the age of 50, the recommendation is to consume at least 25g of fibre per day, if you’re over 50 this figure decreases to around 21g.
Some high fibre foods you can add to your diet include broccoli, beans, berries, avocados, popcorn (the unsalted, non-buttery kind!), whole grains, and nuts.
Take care of your gut health
Optimising our gut health is vital for keeping hormones nice and balanced.
New research has shown that the gut has a huge role in estrogen regulation. These studies have shown that poor gut health has been linked to estrogen-related complications such as PCOS,
The microbes that live in your gut serve a number of important functions, including producing vitamins and maintaining a healthy immune system, which is why it’s so important to maintain the right balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut. Too much bad gut flora can lead to weight gain and disease, which in turn can throw your hormones out of kilter and lead to a whole host of hormonal problems including insulin resistance.
Other gut imbalances can impact your central nervous system too, leading to disorders such as anxiety, depression, and autism which makes sense considering the gut makes around 90% of the body’s feel-good hormones.
Healing your gut and balancing hormones is incredibly easy, and it all starts with your diet.
Research has shown that the Western diet is high in inflammatory fats, and sugars which can negatively affect the gut.
By making some simple changes such as eating a diet high in soluble fibres, rich in antioxidants, and substantial in prebiotics, you can help to promote good gut health and keep your hormones in balance.
If symptoms don’t resolve naturally, what should I do next?
If, after making the above diet and lifestyle changes you are still experiencing symptoms associated with hormone imbalance, then you should seek help from a medical professional as you may need to have your thyroid, hormones and cortisol levels checked for any underlying conditions.
Get in touch with me to talk about all things hormone-related.
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