Thanks to our fast-paced lives and high-stress environments, many women suffer from hormonal imbalances, including myself! Hormones are incredibly important when it comes to achieving optimal health.
Since being diagnosed with poly cystic ovaries (PCO) almost 1 year ago I now have a huge interest in the female endocrine system. Hormones are complex, many women these days suffer with hormonal imbalances, but it doesn't have to be this way. There are ways to get everything back on track!
Since studying holistic nutrition and going through my own experience with balancing my hormones I’ve learnt many strategies which I use on myself, and with clients to help balance hormones. You can’t balance your hormones over night, it takes time but small changes implemented over a long period of time will see you improvements.
Some of the most common signs and symptoms of hormonal imbalance include:
- Infertility and irregular periods
- Weight gain or weight loss (that’s unexplained and not due to intentional changes in your diet)
- Depress and anxiety
- Digestive Issues
- Low libido
- Skin issues
- PMS, endometriosis, PCOS
Here are a 5 tips that you can implement into your life today to help you get your hormones back on track. These are ones I personally use to this day. I hope you find them helpful!
1 – Cut the caffeine
Some people are okay with 1 cup of coffee daily, however from my personal experience anyone with hormonal imbalances should re-think their morning drink! It’s best to avoid, or at least reduce your coffee intake.
- Caffeine raises cortisol levels (cortisol is your fat burning hormone)
- Cortisol competes with progesterone. Progesterone is the hormone responsible for holding onto pregnancies. We need a nice ration of progesterone to oestrogen to help reduce PMS symptoms, PCOS, endometriosis and other hormonal imbalances.
Alternative: Swap your morning cuppa for a dandelion coffee, green tea or chai.
2 – Prioritize sleep!!
I can’t emphasize this one enough! Without adequate sleep hormones will not be in balance. Not enough sleep or poor quality sleep wreaks havoc on your system, limiting your body’s ability to release the hormones necessary to repair, restore and refresh your cells while you snooze. Aim for 7-8 hours of good quality sleep every night, and try to stick with a regular sleep-wake-cycle as much as possible.
3 – Love your liver by eating lots of cruciferous vegetables
A great way to increase the body's rate of breaking down and disposing of oestrogens is to eat lots of cruciferous vegetables, which are high in a substance called indole-3 carbional, this supports phase-1 liver detoxification of oestrogens.
Cooked cruciferous vegetable like broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, cabbage and kale are excellent foods to consume on a regular basis. They are super nutrient dense foods which also contain other vitamins, minerals and fiber to aid in liver detoxification.
Consuming lots of fiber from fresh vegetables, fruit and whole grains is also very important. Fiber naturally contained in whole foods (brown rice, quinoa, oats, buckwheat, chia and flaxseeds, kumera) helps to prevent your body re-absorb recycled oestrogenic chemicals (such as plastics and pesticides) and helps to bulk your stools to eliminate toxins and old hormones through your bowels.
4 – Reduce your stress levels
One of the biggest factors to consider when balancing hormones is your stress levels. When under stress your adrenal glands pump out the stress hormones cortisol. Long-term stress causes your sympathetic nervous system to dominate. Too much cortisol is a problem, it causes blood sugar imbalances, stops fat burning, can lower progesterone levels and causes oestrogen dominance.
Find a stress reliever that works for YOU. I personally like to put my legs up against the wall for 15 minutes, this helps to shift our nervous system into parasympathetic mode. If that doesn’t appeal to you read a book for half an hour, or go for a gentle walk, practise yoga or meditate. Find something that you can do for just 5 minutes a day, even better for 15-30 minutes each day.
5 – Look after your gut
The digestive system has much more of an impact on hormones than many of us realize. Feed your gut with plenty of fermented foods such as sauerkraut, miso, kefir, kimchi and fiber to support good bacteria and keep bad bacteria in check. This helps to keep your digestion and elimination running smoothly, helping to prevent inflammation and leaky gut. Lucky gut causes inflammation which impacts the entire body.
What Hippocrates knew thousands of years ago seems just as true today… that “all disease begins in the gut.” Those who struggle with gut problems may have trouble achieving hormonal balance without first addressing gut health.
Supplements can sometimes be needed, there are certain supplements which are especially helpful for hormone balancing, especially for more serious hormonal conditions such as PCOS, fibroids, endometriosis, infertility. Ideally, we should get all our nutrients from food, however unfortunately we live in a world where the food supply is often depleted of nutrients.
I recommend seeking help from a health care professional to help you choose the right supplements for you, especially if you are on medications or contraceptive. Feel free to contact me for guidance on hormonal health or any other health condition, I would love to help!