7 Methods to Balance Your Hormones Naturally
You’ve probably heard of hormone imbalance. Hormones are delicate and interdependent, and their equilibrium is so easy to damage. Especially when you’re eating the wrong food, getting poor sleep, stressing out, basically doing all the things an average human being does.
What Is Hormone?
Hormones are invisible to the eye, but extremely important chemical messengers. They are produced in our endocrine glands and then sent around our bodies through blood streams.
Endocrine glands and hormones form the endocrine system.
There are about 50 hormones functioning in our bodies, each carrying out its own crucial role. Here’s the list of some major hormones (the ones you’ve most probably heard of):
Cortisol: the stress hormone
Cortisol is a nature’s built-in alarm system. When you’re stressed, cortisol rises, and gives you energy to cope with the problems. You don’t want your cortisol level too high as it can cause insomnia, anxiety, and increased heart rate among other things. However, an adequate level of stress and cortisol are okay to maintain immunologic function.
Thyroid Hormones: affect our metabolism
Thyroid issues can be an underlying cause of irregular periods, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and hair loss.
Estrogen: the female sex hormone
Estrogen is responsible for female physical features and reproduction. It turns a girl into a woman during puberty. It is released by growing follicles (eggs) and peaks during ovulation. Estrogen also helps create a thick uterine lining, that promotes embryo implantation.
High estrogen levels may induce heavy periods, irritability, and weight gain around hips and thighs. Too little estrogen may result in hot flashes, joint pain, dry skin and more wrinkles, vaginal dryness (which are also menopausal symptoms).
Ovulation can be tracked by monitoring changes in your luteinizing hormone (LH). Ovulation can start as soon as one day after your LH levels surge. Fertility hormones like LH can be tracked using the Mira Fertility Tracker to find your specific fertility hormone concentration levels. Mira is launching the Estrogen and Progesterone test wands by early 2020! Estrogen will precisely measure all fertile days. And Progesterone confirms if ovulation has happened which is very useful for people who try to avoid pregnancy in a natural way. Both test wands work perfectly with the current Mira Analyzer on the market.
Progesterone: another important female hormone
It works in combination with estrogen; and is vital for a healthy pregnancy.
Like most hormones in your body, progesterone levels fluctuate throughout the menstrual cycle, which can result in mood fluctuations for some women. Progesterone helps create a calm mood. When it is low during the beginning of your cycle, some women may feel anxious, or have trouble sleeping. Higher levels of progesterone can make you feel groggy, weepy, and create breast tenderness.
Testosterone: the main male sex hormone
Both men and women have this hormone in their bodies, just in different amounts. Testosterone in women is responsible for sex drive, bone health, as well as acne, and darker body hair. Low testosterone levels are associated with fatigue, irritability, and a loss of libido.
Insulin: controls sugar level in your blood
Insulin takes sugar (glucose) from the food you eat and turns it into energy for your cells. In a healthy body, as you get more sugar, your insulin level rises too, so the hormone can help process it. But there are conditions, when your body doesn’t produce insulin, or the cells are resistant to its effects (known as diabetes). That’s when sugar piles up in your blood and messes your health.
Leptin: the satiety hormone
Leptin is the body weight regulator. Leptin tells your brain to burn calories at a normal rate when you have enough fat stored. And thus prevents us from overeating or undereating.
Ghrelin: the hunger hormone
Ghrelin signals your brain to eat. Ghrelin is released from your digestive system when you are hungry, reminding you to eat a snack.
Melatonin: the sleep hormone
Melatonin is called the “Dracula of Hormones”, as it is only released in the darkness. Just think about it: inappropriate lighting in your room can actually take down your melatonin levels and mess up your sleep!
7 Healthy Steps to Balanced Hormones
Hormones are interconnected. And balancing them is not a quick fix. But the good news is that you can gradually improve situation just by picking up these lifestyle habits.
1) Track Your Cycle and Know Your Hormone Levels
Start tracking your cycle and paying attention to how you feel at every phase – your body will give you hints. Mira measures your reproductive hormones quantitatively, so you will know your unique baseline levels, and will notice if hormones’ levels change suddenly.
For other hormones – there’s a special blood test. It’s a good idea to make hormone checks regularly, so that you know what is the norm for you.
2) Prioritize Sleep
A healthy high-quality sleep is at least 8 hours of consistent night rest, an uninterrupted deep sleep. Make sure you don’t watch TV or stare at your phone for at least 2 hours before going to bed. Blue light from electronic devices messes up melatonin level.
Create the most favorable conditions in your bedroom: eliminate all sounds, use blackout curtains and make sure there are no lights (even a tiny light from an Internet router can worsen your sleep quality!). Do not eat or drink before going to bed, and try not to do any active movements.
3) Manage Stress
Chronic stress can seriously worsen your hormone imbalance. Consider mediation, yoga, breath exercises, a warm bath – all of these are proven methods to relax and release anxious thoughts and reduce stress.
4) Exercise and Maintain a Healthy Weight
Physical activities make miracles to our hormonal balance. Even such thing as regular long-distance walking is extremely helpful in maintaining your body toned and in a healthy weight. Exercises also help maintain the necessary level of the Growth Hormone.
Also, as an article in BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine points out, regular physical activity reduces the risk of insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes.
5) Quit Bad Habits
Quit smoking tobacco and limit alcohol consumption – as these unhealthy habits mess up your hormones. Alcohol raises cortisol and estrogen levels. Besides, a glass of alcohol is like consuming a handful of sugary cookies, just via another delivery method. It immediately hits your bloodstream, sending your blood sugar levels on a roller-coaster ride.
6) Avoid Harmful Chemicals
Ditch plastic containers, and do not microwave your food in them. Use glass instead. Do not use plastic lid to drink your hot coffee. You do not want extra microplastics in your body. Vote for organic and non-toxic body products and makeup. Choose apparel and shoes made of natural materials.
7) Adjust Your Diet
Balancing your hormones starts with what you put on the end of your fork. Leveraging food as medicine can support hormone balance naturally. And always remember to avoid overeating or undereating: get just enough!
How to make your food work for your hormones?
1) Eat enough protein
Proteins and healthy fats are the literal building blocks of your body’s hormones. Proteins provide amino acids that your body cannot produce. Choose organic, 100% grass-fed meats (lean beef, chicken breast) and pasture-raised eggs as well as wild-caught fish, legumes, nuts (almonds, pistachios, cashews), and seeds (oats, quinoa, pumpkin seeds).
2) Consume healthy fats
Hormone-healthy fats help regulate your blood sugar and supply your body with the energy it needs to create hormones.
Add to your diet coconut oil, cold-pressed olive oil, avocados, nuts, flaxseeds. Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, herring) is by far the best source of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, which have impressive anti-inflammatory properties.
3) Eat more fiber
Fiber supports your gut health. It helps you have regular bowel movements to remove excess hormones like estrogen. Fiber A-listers include avocado, berries, nuts and seeds, and tons of leafy and calciferous veggies.
4) Avoid sugar and sugary beverages
Some people avoid specific sugars. However, recent research in The Journal of Nutrition found that table sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and honey caused similar responses. So try to avoid any type of sugar. Read labels carefully to find that hidden sugar.
5) Cut back on refined carbs
Processed carbohydrates, such as white bread products and baked goods, may contribute to insulin resistance.
6) Drink green tea
Try to eliminate coffee and substitute it for green tea. Not only it contains metabolism-boosting caffeine, green tea is also an excellent source of antioxidants. It helps to balance stress and your insulin levels. And rest assured, even when pregnant or trying to become pregnant, up to 8 ounces of caffeine is still considered safe.
7) Consider supplements
Ideally, we could get all of our nutrients from food, properly hydrate from water, and get enough Vitamin D from the sun and magnesium from the ocean. But since we do not live in an ideal world, consider professional-quality multivitamin, omega-3 fatty acids, extra vitamin D and magnesium, and a B complex.
A lot of factors affect our hormone balance, like our age, environment, etc.
Try to focus on what you can control and get educated, so you can make an informed decision about your daily habits. And as always, get medical advice from your doctor before introducing a new habit in your life.
Medically Reviewed by Dr Roohi Jeelani, MD, FACOG and Lauren Grimm, MA
Dr Roohi Jeelani is Director of Research and Education at Vios Fertility Institute in Chicago, Illinois. Dr Jeelani earned her medical degree from Ross University School of Medicine in Portsmouth, Dominica. She then completed a residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology and a fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at Wayne State University, Detroit Medical Center, where she was awarded a Women’s Reproductive Health NIH K12 Research Grant. She is board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr Jeelani has authored numerous articles and abstracts in peer-reviewed journals, and presented her research at national and international scientific meetings. A Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dr Jeelani is a member of the American Medical Association, the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, and the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists.
Lauren Grimm is Research Coordinator at Vios Fertility Institute in Chicago, Illinois. Lauren earned her bachelor’s degree from Loyola University Chicago, where she also completed her masters in Medical Sciences. Lauren has worked alongside Dr. Jeelani for the last 3 years, authoring a number of abstracts and articles in peer-reviewed journals, and presented her research at national and international scientific conferences. Lauren will be continuing her education this fall at Rush University Medical College in Chicago, IL as an MD candidate.
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