Ever wondered how you can balance your hormones? Today I’ve got you covered with these 8 tips to balance your hormones naturally, from lifestyle tips to specific foods.
In one of my very early YouTube videos from back in 2013, I shared 3 foods to help balance hormones. It quickly became one of my most popular videos back then, and I thought I’d revisit that topic with some updated tips!
What Exactly Are Hormones?
Hormones are simply chemical messengers that work by travelling in the bloodstream and delivering messages to different cells and organs to regulate their activity. They play a powerful role in our mood, energy and stress levels, metabolism, sleep, reproductive function and a ton of other bodily functions.
Hormones are produced and regulated by a collection of glands in our body known as the endocrine system. These glands include the hypothalamus, the pineal gland, the pituitary gland, the thyroid, parathyroid glands, thymus, liver, pancreas, adrenal glands, ovaries, and testicles and they all play important roles.
Normally, hormones work together to stay in balance and it’s no big deal. But there are a number of factors at play in our daily lives that can throw ’em completely out of whack and contribute to an array of health conditions that we commonly hear of today (PMS, endometriosis, PCOS, hypo/hyperthyroidism, etc.) While I won’t be addressing these conditions specifically, I will be sharing a healthy overview of how we can support our hormones and help to bring some balance.
What Causes Hormonal Imbalances?
Hormone imbalance can be triggered by one or more of the following:
- poor diet, food allergies/intolerances, nutrient deficiencies
- sluggish liver
- dysbiosis (poor balance of good:bad intestinal bacteria; candida, etc.)
- environmental toxins from various plastics and compounds (BPA, PCBs, dioxin, parabens, pesticides, pthalates), heavy metals, smoking
- Birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy, certain pharmaceuticals
- lack of exercise
- poor sleep
How to Balance Your Hormones Naturally
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1. Reduce Stress
Adrenal glands are a big part of our hormonal ecosystem, and chronic stress can lead to adrenal fatigue which means reduced immune function, imbalanced sex hormone levels, and increased inflammation. It’s important to promote the relaxation response several times a day if you’re under stress, so make it a priority. This may mean setting boundaries for yourself, having more alone time, or exploring adaptogenic herbs which I’ll mention in a few mins, or my personal fave way to reduce stress is deep breathing. 5×5. Find what helps you to calm down and feel good.
2. Get Proper Sleep
Sleep is when we regenerate, heal, and reduce inflammation, and supporting a healthy circadian rhythm is essential for happy hormone balance, adrenal support, and for the endocrine system to properly operate. According to this article:
Ninety percent of cell and tissue growth and regeneration in the brain and the human body occur during the third stage of sleep, so this means that the number of uninterrupted hours of sleep is of greater importance than the number of hours itself.
Cortisol is supposed to be at its lowest at about midnight. But if your cortisol levels remain high when they shouldn’t be, you won’t get a restful sleep, you’ll increase chances of waking up, and this can throw things way off kilter. Sleep keeps stress hormones balanced and improve energy for the following day, so do your best to develop a routine of going to bed at same time regularly.
3. Avoid Environmental Toxins
Many products in our everyday lives can contain what are known as xenoestrogens. These are man-made chemicals that mimic and act like natural estrogen in the body which can lead to a plethora of women’s health conditions such as estrogen dominance. Some very common xenoestrogens are one’s you’ve likely heard of before: BPA, PCBs, parabens, pesticides, and pthalates to name a few.
How to avoid ’em? Use glass containers and water bottles instead of plastic to avoid BPA, use natural menstrual products, non-toxic beauty, makeup, skincare products to avoid parabens, and eat organic when possible to avoid overexposure of pesticides.
Exercise reduces stress, helps us maintain a healthy weight, and promotes restful sleep. It also supports healthy mood and mental health and immune function! But remember that vigorous exercise is an added stressor on the body, so don’t overdo it if you have an exisiting health condition. Start slow and simple with daily brisk walks.
5. Eat More Cruciferous Vegetables
Cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, kale, and brussels sprouts contain a compound called indol-3-carbinol (I3C) that helps support estrogen metabolism and removing excess estrogen metabolites. This is also good news for helping to reduce the risk of estrogen-related cancers.
Friendly little note: If you have a thyroid condition you may want to limit your intake of too many raw crucifers due to their goitrogen content (which means to cause “goiter” or swelling of the thyroid gland). Cooking crucifers can help to negate this effect, and generally small or moderate amounts of them are fine, but if you’re concerned about goitrogens, be sure to speak to your healthcare practitioner.
6. Eat More Healthy Fats
Our bodies require different types of fats to manufacture hormones, including saturated fat and cholesterol. Not only are healthy fats fundamental building blocks for hormone production, but they support healthy weight and metabolism, cognition function, heart health, and can help reduce inflammation.
Some of my favourite sources of healthy saturated and monounsatured fats include coconut oil, avocado, extra virgin olive oil, and fish to name a few.
7. Reduce Caffeine
If you’re a big coffee lover… I’m sorry! But this point is important. Caffeine is a nervous system stimulant that can be hard on our adrenal glands (these glands are responsible for our stress response) and can disrupt sleep. Two things that are majorly important for hormone health.
If you’re wanting to support your hormones, consider reducing your consumption of highly caffeinated beverages and try herbal tea instead.
8. Consume Adaptogens
Adaptogens are different types of foods and herbs that help our body to adapt to stress. They also help to promote healthy hormone ratios, support our immune system, mood, and liver. Some of my favourites include:
- maca (great for adding to smoothies)
- holy basil
- mushrooms such as chaga, lion’s mane, and reishi.
I hope this post was informative for you! If you have any questions, feel free to leave me a comment. Be sure to reach out to your healthcare practitioner if you have any specific questions or concerns about a health condition you may have.