Female Hormone Restoration
Hormones are the body’s chemical messengers. They help to control nearly every physiological response in the body, includingmetabolism, sex drive, sleep, immune health, mood, energy, physical appearance, fertility, thyroid health, and cardiovascular health. Women’s hormones naturally fluctuate and shift throughout our cycles and lives, but generally the body adapts and compensates to make the transition less difficult. Hormonal imbalances often occur when the endocrine glands are not functioning properly. Endocrine glands are specialized cells that produce, store, and release hormones into the blood. Even small imbalances can have a profound effect on how you look and feel.
Studies suggest that approximately 80% of women are suffering from some form of a hormonal imbalance.Given the toxins in our environment, our busy lifestyles, poor diets, and our food system, it’s really not surprising. Signs of a hormonal imbalance include:
- Irregular Periods
- Heavy, Painful Periods
- Sleep Disorders
- Hair Loss/thinning
- Hormonal Acne
- Significant Weight Gain/Weight Loss
- Mood Swings
- Low Libido
- Digestive Issues (Bloating, Diarrhea, Nausea)
Factors that increase the risk of developing a hormonal imbalance include:
- Hormonal Contraception
- Tap water
- Chronic stress
- Exposure to hormone disruptors
- Poor diet
- Perimenopause and menopause
How can we balance and restore our hormones? There are some simple dietary and lifestyle tips that we can incorporate:
- Eat a healthy hormone diet: this diet consists of healthy fats (building blocks of all hormones), fiber (blood sugar, cholesterol, gut health and excretion), protein (structural framework for hormones), cruciferous vegetables (metabolizes excess hormones), and fermented foods (good gut bacteria). Aim for a balanced glycemic load with lower starch and sugar intake and a higher intake of vegetable, greens, fiber, healthy fats, fermented foods, and protein.
- Drink filtered water: our local water supply has chlorine and fluoride added to it, which not only affects taste, but your health and hormones. For instance, fluoride blocks iodine receptors in the thyroid gland. Iodine is necessary for the production of thyroid hormones and since the body doesn’t produce it, it must be obtained through the diet. Seaweed, seafood, spirulina, kelp salt, kombu or an iodine supplement like Genestra’s liquid iodine are good options to increase iodine intake. A water filtration system with a fluoride filter is also highly recommended as it will help remove chemicals, such as lead, chlorine, and fluoride from the water, while also improving the taste. I use the Santevia countertop model in my home, which also comes with stones that increase the mineral content of the water.
- Limit your exposure to hormone disruptors: these chemicals are found in everything from conventional produce to plastics, receipts, personal care products, cleaning products, water and so much more. Educate yourself on these chemicals and make smart decisions to reduce your exposure. The Environmental Working Group (ewg.org) is a great resource.
- Reduce your stress response: we can’t eliminate stress, especially during a pandemic, but we can control our reaction to it. Two major hormones affected by stress are cortisol and adrenaline. During periods of high stress your body goes into ‘fight or flight mode’, which can affect your immune system, blood pressure, heart health, mental health, hormonal health, and so much more. Research has shown that you may be able to lower your stress response and subsequently your cortisol levels by engaging in stress-reducing techniques like breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, massage and listening to relaxing music, like binaural beats. Devoting even 10-15 minutes a day to these practices can make a difference.
- Engage in regular exercise: physical activity has been found to increase insulin sensitivity and reduce insulin levels. It also helps boost levels of muscle-maintaining hormones that decline with age, such as testosterone, IGF-1, DHEA and growth hormone. In addition, it boosts endorphins, which can improve mood and overall well-being. The key is balance, as too much or too little exercise can negatively affect hormone levels. I balance my workouts with high intensity exercises, like spin and low intensity exercises, like yoga and Pilates.
- Ensure sufficient, high quality sleep: insufficient sleep has been linked imbalances in hormones such as insulin, cortisol, leptin, ghrelin and growth hormone. Sleep is a restorative phase for the body so any interruptionwill affect the body’s ability to restore and repair throughout the night. Aim for at least seven to nine hours of quality sleep every night for optimal hormone function.
- Seek Support from a Natural Health Practitioner: working with a practitioner that specializes in hormones is one the best things you can do if you have an imbalance or are going through a transitional phase like pregnancy, perimenopause or menopause. They can help support you emotionally and physically, while also ensuring that the right labs are completed and that you are placed on the right protocol to address your imbalances.