People lead stressful and busy lives – that’s an unfortunate but undeniable fact these days. Then, when you factor in a poor diet and/or lack of adequate nutrition, it’s no wonder that disorders of the metabolic and endocrine systems are becoming the new norm!
Your hormones – the body’s chemical messengers – are involved in every minute aspect of your physical and even mental & emotional health, and you need them in very specific amounts for your body to function efficiently.
When your hormones aren’t working optimally, then your body starts to show the signs. Hormonal imbalances may increase your risk of diabetes, heart disease, chronic inflammation, and a multitude of other health problems.“The healthy, hormonally balanced body continually manufactures all the hormones it needs to keep everything functioning.
It becomes unbalanced when subjected to inadequate supplies of nutrients, inordinate stress and toxic influences. Balance is the most central aspect in a woman’s health.”
~ Women in Balance Institute
Everything is connected in the endocrine system so hormones always impact one another as well. This means if your body is producing high levels of certain hormones like cortisol (the hormone of stress), then levels of other hormones will likely fluctuate in response – estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and thyroid hormones (T4 and T3), for example.
Signs of common hormonal imbalances
When your body produces too much or too little of one or more hormones, the following signs and symptoms may start to appear:
- Periods are irregular or absent
- Infertility & miscarriage
- Sleep issues and insomnia
- Memory or brain fog
- Fatigued or have consistently low energy
- Digestive issues
- Mood swings, irritable, anxious or depressed
- Gaining weight or weight loss resistant
- Vagina is dry and/or irritated
- Lack of sex drive/no libido
- Night sweats and hot flashes
- Food cravings and constant hunger
- Skin & hair changes including:
- Acne, dry skin, thinning hair and/or hair growing in unexpected places – like your face!
Why your nutrition matters when it comes to hormones, especially when they’re unbalanced!
The building blocks that your body needs to produce hormones, not to mention properly fuel your body, must be obtained from your diet.
For example, many hormones used for reproduction (sex hormones) are derived from cholesterol – yes, cholesterol! Which comes from foods like whole-fat dairy, eggs, butter, and meat. While these may all be animal products – quality does matter.
If you’re experiencing chronic stress or your diet doesn’t supply enough “raw materials” to make all of the necessary hormones, your body will prioritize stress hormone production (particularly Cortisol) because these hormones are essential for survival, whereas sex hormones aren’t considered necessary to sustain life.
Eating nutritious foods, exercising daily, and engaging in an otherwise healthy lifestyle can go a long way toward supporting and improving your hormonal health.
Seven (7) diet & lifestyle tips you should adopt for better hormone balance:
- Eat adequate high quality protein – with every meal; eat 3 meals per day (plus up to 2 snacks)
- Reduce inflammatory foods, including sugar & refined carbs, sugary drinks, gluten, hydrogenated oils & trans fats
- Consume healthy fats, including fatty fish, whole eggs, olive oil, coconut oil & avocados
- Eat a high fiber with natural plant fibers but consume whole grains in moderation
- Consume probiotic foods such as fermented yogurt, kefir & sauerkraut as well as prebiotic foods like bananas, artichokes & chicory root
- Drink adequate water and limit alcohol & caffeine
- Supplement with Vitamin D, especially in the darker winter months
Everyone is different, and what works for some people does not work for everyone. Just start with the basics of eating for hormonal support and balance to see if you feel any positive changes.
It’s also important to have your hormone levels checked out with a qualified Health Practitioner before you make any radical changes to your diet or lifestyle.
RECIPE: Hormone Balance Sprout Shot (not recommended for overactive thyroid)
½ cup broccoli sprouts
½ cup filtered water
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
½ tsp hemp oil – cold pressed, organic preferred
Pinch sea salt
Place everything in a high-speed blender and blend on high until mixture is beautifully bright green and all the sprouts are emulsified. Serve immediately.
The juice is best enjoyed fresh, and you can also incorporate your sprout shot into your fave smoothie – although it will certainly change the taste!