Key Hormone #: Estrogen
The first hormone is estradiol this is the form of estrogen produced in the greatest amounts by women of childbearing age. Estrogen is considered the happy hormone, because it boosts neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which gives us a sense of pleasure and motivation. It is also great for:
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Bring Down Chronic Stress
Chronic stress leads to persistently elevated levels of cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. This can set us up for overeating, and ultimately, unintended weight gain. We think we stress-eat just as an emotional response, but cortisol actually pulls some levers that truly increase our hunger drive. Cortisol ramps up motivation in general, and our motivation to find and consume food in particular.
Unmanaged stress can also temporarily raise adrenaline levels, which increases your blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety. The key here is to find ways you can proactively bring down chronic stress levels. Massage therapy, for example, has been found to not only lower cortisol levels but raise levels of good hormones like serotonin and dopamine. Even if getting a massage isnt possible, you can reduce stress and balance hormones in DIY fashion through mindful breathing, slow movement like yoga or tai chi, and meditation.
Hormone Balancing Tip #: Get Off The Sugar Roller Coaster
Eating large amounts of processed sugar and refined carbohydrates can lead to insulin resistance. This is where your body gets tired of receiving the signal that your blood sugar is high, and becomes less responsive to it. Excess insulin production causes inflammation in the body and increased production of testosterone from the ovaries. This can lead to irregular cycles, acne and hair growth on the face.
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Pillars Of Correcting Hormonal Imbalances
Each pillar is discussed in depth in my course Balanced Babe’s Academy, where you will get a step-by-step guide on how to tackle each of these issues! You can also find posts on my blog going over each of these topics.
When beginning this journey, I was hoping I could pop a supplement and fix everything, but unfortunately that is not the case. The good news is I am here to help and I want to see you living your happiest and healthiest life. In order to do so, were going to take baby steps to get there.
Step 1: Track Your Cycle and Symptoms
Take the next 30 days and track your period, ovulation, and symptoms you experience. Waking up in the middle of the night? Write it down. Hair loss or hair growth in weird places? Write it down. Not feeling as motivated or have crazy brain fog? Write it down.
This is helpful for determining specific hormones that might be off and it helps to understand your cycle better!
Step 2: Get Plenty of Healthy Fats and High-Quality Protein
Step 3: Two Ss: Sleep and Stress
Step 4: Xenoestrogens: Ditch & Switch
Step 5: Balance Blood Sugar and Insulin Resistance
Read: Gut Health, Adrenal Fatigue, and Liver Detox
Read these articles about gut health, adrenal health, and supporting your liver to help your bodys stress and detox pathways!
Keep Stress Levels Low
Studies show that women who participate in a daily meditation or yoga experience less hormonal swings than those who do not mediate stress in some fashion . Rest is also important. Many women have such hectic lifestyles that they give their body little time to re-adjust from lifeâs demands. This disrupts the natural hormones cycles in women. Find small ways to incorporate rest and relax throughout the day.
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The Four Phases Of The Menstrual Cycle
What happens during each menstrual cycle? High-level, an egg develops and is released from the ovaries. If a pregnancy doesnt happen, the uterine lining sheds during a menstrual period. You bleed, and the cycle starts again. The four phases of the menstrual cycle are the menstrual phase, follicular phase, ovulation phase, and luteal phase. The length of each phase can differ from woman to woman, and it can change over time.
Menopause: When Estrogen And Progesterone Levels Are No Longer Balanced
Consider the female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone. Before puberty, both hormone levels are low. Puberty is initiated when the hypothalamus releases gonadotropin-releasing hormone . GnRH triggers the release of luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone from the anterior pituitary gland. A synchronized release of LH and FSH regulates the menstrual cycle, the release of an egg from a follicle in the ovary, and the uterine cycle. Throughout a womans reproductive years, these cycles occur on a 21 to 28-day basis.
With aging, fertility wanes as the number of follicles remaining in the ovaries diminishes. Menopause occurs when a womans ovaries no longer have any follicles left, and estrogen production declines. The earliest phase of menopause, perimenopause, is characterized by normal estrogen levels but decreasing progesterone levels. When estrogen levels drop, symptoms develop, such as vaginal dryness and pain, hot flashes and night sweats, mood swings, brain fog, and thinning hair. These symptoms vary by women from mild to severe.
Many women are at the peak of their careers as they enter menopause. Brain fog can negatively impact their work and quality of life.
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S For How To Balance Hormones Naturally
Hormones such as estrogen, testosterone, adrenaline and insulin are extremely important chemical messengers that affect many aspects of your overall health. Thats why a hormonal imbalance can be problematic, so you want to make sure you know how to balance hormones.
Conventional treatments for hormonal imbalances typically include synthetic hormone replacement therapies, birth control pills, insulin injections, thyroid medications and more. Unfortunately, for the majority of people suffering from hormonal disorders, relying on these types of synthetic treatments often does three things:
Is it possible to balance hormones naturally? The good news is, yes, in many cases it is.
Lets examine how to balance hormones naturally.
Healthy Fats For Healthy Hormones
Good fats are used by the body to produce hormones and also reduce inflammation. Healthy fats include those found in olive oil, flaxseed, avocado oil, nuts, seeds, and nut butter and can easily be added to any meal.
Flaxseeds are particularly beneficial as they contain lignans, a type of phytoestrogen that helps to balance oestrogen levels by supporting healthy levels and ridding the body of spent oestrogen. They can be added to smoothies, porridge, muesli, and soups.
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A Healthy Diet Is Key
When it comes to getting all the essential macronutrients and micronutrients necessary to balance hormones, we should always turn to food first. Supplements are great, but theres no substitute for good, whole foods the ones that come directly from the Earth, just as nature intended. Your endocrine system needs certain foods, which contain specific nutrients, to do its job. Lets see which ones those are!
How To Balance Your Hormones Naturally
1. Reduce Your Sugar IntakeConsuming high amounts of processed sugar and refined carbs like pastries, candies, ice cream and soft drinks can lead to insulin resistance, along with other health issues like obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. When your body gets tired of receiving the signal that your blood sugar is high, it becomes less responsive to it and can lead to inflammation in the body and increased production of testosterone in the ovaries. This can lead to symptoms like irregular periods and acne. Reduce your processed sugar intake as much as possible and focus on a diet high in whole foods, fruits and vegetables.
2. Low Intensity ExerciseStress, illness or lack of sleep can play a part in elevated cortisol levels. Its your bodys main stress hormone and works with certain parts of your brain to control mood, motivation and fear. When your cortisol levels are high, it can result in anxiety, headaches, trouble sleeping, weight gain and even heart disease. Low intensity exercise can help lower elevated cortisol levels. Yoga, pilates, walking, slow jogging, swimming, and low intensity fitness classes are excellent cortisol-conscious workouts.
If youre dealing with symptoms of hormone imbalance, try these tips to balance your hormones in a natural, healthy way.
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Abnormal Hair Growth Or Hair Loss
Heightened androgen levels are also often to blame for abnormal hair growth or hair loss. If hair loss is occurring, this may look like an overall thinning of the hair and can even cause male pattern baldness. In cases of unwanted hair growth, hair may begin to grow or thicken on the face, back, chest, or abdomen.
Swap Carbs For Healthy Fats
Foods that balance hormones include a variety of fat-containing foods that provide short-, medium- and long-chain fatty acids. Your body needs various types of fats to create hormones, including saturated fat and cholesterol.
Not only are these essential fats fundamental building blocks for hormone production, but they keep inflammation levels low, boost your metabolism and promote weight loss.
Healthy fats have the opposite effect of refined carbohydrates, which lead to inflammation and can mess with the balance of your hormones.
My four favorite sources of anti-inflammatory, healthy fats include coconut oil, avocados, grass-fed butter and wild-caught salmon.
- Coconut oil uses are plentiful. For example, coconut oil has natural antibacterial and fat-burning effects.
- Avocado benefits include improving heart health, lowering inflammation, controlling your appetite, and contributing to your daily intake of fiber and nutrients, such as potassium.
- Salmon nutrition is also impressive. Its one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to lower inflammation and help with cognitive functions. Omega-3 fatty acids are a large component of brain-cell membranes and are important for cell-to-cell communication in the brain. Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids help protect against hippocampal neuronal loss and reduce pro-inflammatory responses.
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Feed Your Gut Microbiome
For hormone production and balance we need to ensure our gut bacteria are flourishing so eating fermented foods daily , prebiotic foods and probiotic yoghurts etc as well as eating as many different foods as possible in a week will help maintain the diversity you need.
If you feel that you could benefit from additional support, they you can learn more by reading my page about hormone imbalance or dont hesitate to contact me using the form below.
Salmon And Albacore Tuna
Fat and cholesterol are the building blocks of hormones. You need enough cholesterol to make sex hormones like estrogen and testosterone. The key is to choose fats high in omega-3s and to limit saturated fats . Salmon, canned albacore tuna, walnuts, flaxseed, olive oil, avocados and chia seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids.
âSalmon also stabilizes your hunger hormones and is high in vitamin D, which helps regulate female testosterone levels,â says Carrie Gabriel M.S., RDN, a dietitian and owner of Steps2Nutrition. âThe good fats in fish improve overall hormonal communication. The endocrine system uses hormones to communicate with the brain, which in turn boosts our mood and gives us better cognitive skills.â
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Liver: The #1 Superfood To Balance Hormones
Gram for gram, liver is the most nutrient-dense food on the planet. Due to its unique nutritional profile, liver easily deserves the title, Ideal Superfood to Balance Hormones.
Most importantly, liver provides the highest source of vitamin A, one of the most valuable vitamins to balance hormones. Vitamin A not only improves thyroid function, it improves liver health so we can synthesize and detox hormones well.
Contrary to popular belief, we cannot obtain vitamin A from vegetables , including carrots and sweet potatoes. The beta carotene in veggies must first be converted to vitamin A in the body and this conversion is so poor it is virtually insignificant. Hormonal imbalance further compromises your ability to convert the carotene into useable vitamin A.
Optimally, enjoy 2-4 servings of pastured liver each week. If you abhor the taste of liver, I recommend taking these grassfed desiccated liver capsules daily. 2-6 capsules per day is recommended.
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What Causes Irregular Menstrual Cycles
Every womans menstrual cycle is different. Some women get their period at the same time each month. Others are more irregular. Some women bleed more heavily or for a longer number of days than others. Your menstrual cycle can also change during certain times of your life. That said, its really helpful to track your periods. Eventually, the goal is to sync your cycle with your life. Spoiler alertthats part of how to balance your hormones naturally. Any of these things can alter your menstrual cycle, causing hormonal imbalance:
This is not an exhaustive list of reasons why a menstrual cycle can be irregular. If you sense your period is irregular .
Image by Michelle Nash
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Permission To Eat Healthy Fats
Good saturated fats are essential to produce hormones. Have them in avocados, fish like salmon and sardines, nuts, and coconut oil in baked goods.
Our Tip: learn about the benefits of olive oil and other cooking oils, how to read labels, and identify the smoke point. This may help you balance hormones naturally with cholesterol management.
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Get Off The Sugar Roller Coaster
Eating significant amounts of sugars and refined carbohydrates like cakes, pasta, bread, cookies, and soda wrecks hormonal balance. Eating these foods often creates abrupt highs and lows in blood sugar that not only promote body fat storage, but they can increase inflammatory markers that interfere with hormone communication.
Instead, aim for balanced meals with proteins, healthy fats, and fiber-rich carbohydrates in the form of vegetables and minimally-processed whole grains like quinoa or oats.
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How To Know If Hormones Are Imbalanced
“During reproductive years, women can look to their cycle to give them signs that their hormones are out of balance. Infertility, ‘period problems’ like PMS, heavy, painful periods, and migraines all can be signs that hormones are out of balance,” says Ayla Barmmer, M.S., RD, LDN, owner of Boston Functional Nutrition and creator of Full Circle Prenatal.
Sudden weight fluctuations or changes in energy levels could also signal a hormonal imbalance. “But, really, the best way to know for sure is to get tested,” says Azzaro.
How To Naturally Balance Hormones
Hormone ups and downs are a fact of life, but you shouldnât have to put up with uncomfortable or unwelcome side effects of extreme fluctuations.
While doctors may prescribe medications for diagnosed hormone disorders or for specific times in life such as menopause, there are many things you can do naturally to encourage hormone balance.
Some lifestyle modifications are known to be effective.
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Engage In Regular Exercise
Physical activity strongly influences hormonal health. Aside from improving blood flow to your muscles, exercise increases hormone receptor sensitivity, meaning that it enhances the delivery of nutrients and hormone signals (
Insulin is a hormone that allows cells to take up sugar from your bloodstream to use for energy. However, if you have a condition called insulin resistance, your cells may not effectively react to insulin. This condition is a risk factor for diabetes, obesity, and heart disease .
However, while some researchers still debate whether the improvements come from exercise itself or from losing weight or fat, evidence shows that regular exercise may improve insulin resistance independently of body weight or fat mass reduction .
Many types of physical activity have been found to help prevent insulin resistance, including high intensity interval training, strength training, and cardio .
Being physically active may also help boost levels of muscle-maintaining hormones that decline with age, such as testosterone, IGF-1, DHEA, and human growth hormone .
For people who cannot perform vigorous exercise, even regular walking may increase these hormone levels, potentially improving strength and quality of life .
Strength training, aerobics, walking, and other forms of exercise may modify hormone levels to reduce your risk of disease and prevent muscle mass decline as you age.
Your Period Is Irregular
This one may seem obvious, but Ive spoken to women who were told it was normal to go months without having a period, despite not being on any kind of birth control.
The fact is, a healthy menstrual cycle is a product of a symphony or hormones, including estrogen and progesterone, that are also the same hormones involved in regulating your mood, metabolism, mental health, libido, digestion, and so much more! If youre not cycling, we need to find out why!
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Recipes To Help Balance Hormones
These recipes contain plenty of plant-based protein and fiber, which are important for hormonal health. But they take it a step further by offering an array of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients to help balance hormones even more. Whats great is that each recipe can easily be made ahead of time so that you have hormone-balancing foods available to you all week long!