In this post I will talk about the ways that I have learned to balance hormones naturally. It has been a long road for me. I’ve had doctors jokingly dismiss my concerns about hormones, and I’ve had doctors recommend treatments that only half worked. I’ve had times that are better, and times that are worse. Through the dismissals, and ups and downs, I’ve learned a lot. I hope that you find something here that can be applied to your situation and that can help you heal.
What are hormones?
Hormones are chemical messengers that are secreted directly into the blood. The blood then carries the hormones to the organs and tissues of the body so they can perform their functions. There are many types of hormones that act on different aspects of bodily functions and processes. Some of these include:
- Development and growth,
- Sexual function,
- Reproductive growth and health,
- Maintenance of body temperature,
As you can imagine if hormones aren’t properly cared for they can get out of balance, and if they are out of balance then the body can suffer from numerous problems. Additionally, hormones are intricately weaved together in a way that can help you thrive when things are in order, but that can also spiral you out of control when something is amiss.
How to know if you need to balance hormones
There are many indications that you could have a hormone problem. Here are a few common symptoms:
- Skin issues,
- Weight gain around the middle,
- Loss of muscle mass,
- Trouble sleeping,
- Always sleeping,
- Low libido,
- Night sweats and hot flashes,
Please keep in mind that many of these symptoms could be caused by other problems. This list also doesn’t pinpoint which hormone to look at. For example, fatigue could be a thyroid imbalance or a cortisol problem. Since that is the case, I highly recommend getting your hormones tested by a naturopathic doctor. I also recommend finding someone that can do Dutch testing. It is the most accurate form of hormone testing.
How to Support Healthy Hormones Naturally
Eat More Healthy Fats
It’s way past time to get over the fat free craze.
What everyone in the 80’s and 90’s didn’t know or understand was that hormones are made up of cholesterol, a huge portion of the brain is cholesterol, and the body really does need fat. Healthy hormones rely on the body having balance, and that balance most certainly includes fat! Thank goodness! I really love that fat.
So to support hormonal health change your beliefs about fat. If a food naturally contains fat then don’t remove it. Leave the fat on your ground beef, eat butter, drink whole milk, and add coconut oil to all kinds of dishes including hot chocolate and oatmeal.
Please note by healthy fats I mean natural fats like avocados, coconut oil, and egg yolks, raw butter, lard, and tallow from pastured animals. Avoid hydrogenated vegetable oils like canola oil, margarine, soybean oil, and shortening.
Also keep in mind that this isn’t a free ticket to eat as much fat as you want. You need to find a healthy balance. For me that was a little tricky. When I learned fat was actually healthy I went overboard and it took a little while for me to find that happy middle ground. “Moderation in all things”, and “listen to your body” are still good mottos here.
More info here:
- Saturated Fat: Friend or Foe?
- Why I Believe Over Half of Your Diet Should be Made up of Saturated Fat
Although we all have them and we seem to be surviving, our hormones are much more delicate than we tend to treat them. And the chemical overload isn’t helping.
To eliminate chemicals:
- Avoid plastic as much as possible. Use glass, stainless steel, cast iron, wood, etc. Never cook in plastic or store food in plastic!
- Discard any personal care products that contained parabens. Names to look for include butylparaben, isobutylparaben, ethylparaben, methylparaben and popylparaben. Check out the Skin Deep Database to find out what’s in your cosmetics.
- Eat organic to avoid unnecessary exposure to pesticides.
- Avoid second-hand smoke and air pollution, ditch air fresheners and use chemical-free cleaning products – I use baking soda, vinegar, and essential oils to clean. I diffuse essential oils in place of air freshener.
Focus on Fitness
Not moving your body enough is a key contributor to hormonal imbalance. Hello mood swings! However, you could also have the opposite problem and still be hurting your hormones. To much exercise can contribute to problems like adrenal fatigue and thyroid problems like Hashimoto’s.
To support hormonal health not only does the diet need balance but so does the fitness routine. Focus on weight training, yoga and interval training. The weights and the interval training both help to build strong muscles, because muscle burns more calories than fat it also increases metabolism and supports healthy hormones. Focus on yoga because it is more than just exercise. It is about mind-body connection and relaxation. Yoganhelps to lower stress levels.
Balance is needed with fitness. Listen to your body. Lift heavy things. Get in some cardio. Don’t overdo it.
More on Fitness here:
- Workouts to Increase Metabolism
- 10 Habits of People who Make Exercise Look Easy
- Great Workout Videos: The easiest and cheapest way to get your workouts in
- Incorporate Exercise Into Your Day… Quick and Easy
- How to Make a Behavior Addictive: Make Exercise Addictive
Quality Sleep Helps Support Healthy Hormones
Early to Bed
Just one more episode? Nope! The most important sleep occurs between 10pm and 2am. Plan ahead and make sure your head hits the pillow in time to be asleep before ten.
Support Circadian Rhythm
In addition to getting to bed on time consistently, do things to support your circadian rhythm and promote restful sleep. Take Epsom salt baths before bed, use calming essential oils like Cedarwood and Peace & Calming, and drink chamomile tea with added gelatin.
YOu can also download Flux on your computer, or buy yellow glasses. Flux automatically dims the computer screen as the sun goes down. Electronic devices with bright screens trick the brain into thinking that it is midday and thus disturbing the normal cycle of your circadian rhythm.
More on Getting a Great Nights Sleep here:
- The Sleep Solution
- One Simple Trick to Help You Sleep at Night
- 5 All Natural Sleep Aids
- Can’t Fall Back Asleep? “Sleepy Dust”—An Unconventional Nutritional Remedy for Insomnia
- Essential Oil Sleep Salve Relaxation Rub
Trash the Hormonal Birth Control
Hormonal birth control works in a few ways. First it stops ovulation. No egg means no pregnancy. Most birth control contains the synthetic hormones estrogen and progestin, some only contain progestin. These synthetic hormones control a woman’s natural hormone levels, and prevent estrogen from peaking mid-cycle. Without the estrogen bump, the pituitary gland does not release other hormones that normally cause the ovaries to release mature eggs. In other words, birth control thwarts the female body’s ability to cycle through hormonal changes normally and thus causes imbalance and irregularity, along with a host of other side effects.
So, trash that birth control and never look back. Instead,pick up the book, Taking Charge of Your Fertility, this is now your birth control bible of sorts. Not only is it a great resource for educating women about how to prevent pregnancy it is also great for general knowledge about the female cycle and even to help women achieve pregnancy when they are ready to do so.
More on Birth Control here:
- Is Your Birth Control Ruining Your Health
- 10 Menstruation Facts You Should Definitely Know
- 4 Ways to Repair the Hormonal Imbalance from the Pill
- Natural Birth Control Alternatives to “The Pill”
Vow to Never Diet Again
The easiest way to lose weight is to limit calories. BUT, the less you eat, the less you’ll be able to eat without gaining the weight back. It becomes a vicious cycle of dieting, loosing weight, giving up, eating a lot, and then trying some new diet and starting over. Only to find yourself hungry and over weight. Unfortunately this pattern is all to common, it may even sound like the story of your life too.
What the “eat less, exercise more” diet industry doesn’t understand is that to have a healthy metabolism and to support healthy hormones bodies need to be fed a lot more than what almost all diets allow. Instead try listening to your cravings and your bodies hunger cues and respond accordingly. Now that doesn’t mean you have to respond to every sugar craving. Sugar cravings can be caused by sugar addiction and imbalanced blood glucose levels. But the normal stuff like eating breakfast and eating when hungry, and making sure to have a balanced diet that includes fat, carbs and proteins for every meal and snack.
When I really need to lose a few pounds I turn to my good friend Kristen from Mix Wellness. She has 2 programs that help the body detox from sugar and other things, lose weight, and stimulate the metabolism. If you are feeling lost on how to eat so that you can lose weight without starving yourself or hurting your metabolism I highly recommend her programs.
Learn to Relax
When the body is in a relaxed state steroid hormones work to promote DHEA and progesterone. These hormones promote immune balance, cancer prevention and healthy reproduction. When the body becomes stressed the same steroid hormones send their building blocks to cortisol. Cortisol is the “survive now, deal with things later” hormone. That fight or flight instinct literally sucks up all of the steroid hormones leaving nothing to maintain the balance of DHEA and progesterone. Hello estrogen dominance!
Steps to help relaxation:
- do yoga – yoga is designed to focus inwardly and to close the mind to all the business around us.
- plan to be early – if the intention is to be early, whether for work, with deadlines, or anything else then when things don’t go as planned there is less stress in the delays.
- get enough sleep – a rested mind promotes a relaxed atmosphere.
- have a schedule – having a plan helps keep out the mental clutter.
- be a minimalist – minimalism helps reduce stress by keeping life simple. The less physical mess and clutter the less mental stress and clutter.
- choose to let it go – let’s face it, being high-strung can be a conscious choice. Choose to “act” instead of “react” to situations and life will be less stressful.
More on Stress here:
Soybean oil, soy protein, soy lethicin, soy milk, soy sauce… all of these products have one very big problem. They contain large amounts of phytoestrogens, specifically isoflavones, which bind to the body’s hormone receptors disrupting the body’s natural ability to balance hormones on its own.
This may leave you wondering how Asian cultures quite literally live on the stuff? Well, traditionally soy was always fermented. In that form it is much less harmful to hormones.
You may be thinking, “No problem, I’ll just avoid my favorite Chinese restaurant and all is well.” Wrong. Soy is in literally everything! Check your labels, it is in almost every processed food including most cocoa.
More on Soy here:
Make a Habit of Drinking Broth and Eating Gelatin
Did you know that traditional cultures made a habit of eating not only the fat from an animal but also the gelatin from that animal along with their muscle meat and organs? We have become a culture that has forgotten how to eat much of anything but muscle meats. But these other animal parts are very important for health and for hormone balance.
When only the muscle meats are eaten the body’s cortisol levels rise. This leads to a stress response in the body and then hormonal imbalance.
Now I almost always have broth going in my slow cooker. It is added to almost every meal. I use it in place of water to cook rice or quinoa. I use broth in all of my soups and gravies. And if I don’t get enough broth in then I make gelatin treats or add hydroslate to my drink, smoothie, or meal.
More on Broth & Gelatin here:
Supplements that Support Hormones
There are lots of supplements and herbs that are beneficial to hormone health. I’m only going to tell you about a few that I find the most noteworthy. Also, some herbs may help one person and hurt another. Best to check with a naturopath before diving in.
Maca – Maca is an endocrine adaptogen. This means that it does not contain any hormones, but does contain the nutrients necessary to support normal hormone production. It is known to support healthy fertility, support healthy menstruation, and support healthy libido.
Schizandra berry – Schizandra berry is great for adrenal support.
Adrenal Cocktail – Great for adrenal support. Here’s the simple recipe: 1/2 C. fresh orange juice, 1/4 tsp. Himalayan pink seas salt, and 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar (potassium)
Magnesium – Magnesium regulates cortisol, lowers blood sugar, supports thyroid, aids sleep. fuels cellular energy, and is a key contributor to the building of hormones. I regularly use Epsom salt in the bath, and supplement daily with with this slow release magnesium supplement.
More on Supplements here:
Track Your Temperature
Having a low temperature is an indication that you have a weak metabolism. To track your temperature you need to use a basal body thermometer and take your temperature immediately upon waking before getting out of bed. You can also download apps to help you record and review where you are at. Although this trick has very little to do with actually fixing anything, monitoring your temperature can let you know if anything is amiss metabolically, or with your hormones.
Do you have a tip to support healthy hormones? Share in the comments below.
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