Hormone imbalances affect both men and women, and have a direct impact on how you feel, think and look, quality of life, relationships, and overall health. It’s important to realize that all hormones act synergistically, they do not act independent of one another. When hormones are in sync, we feel energized, sleep well, perform better, and look our best. When they’re not, we feel miserable.
Hormone imbalances can occur from a number of things such as an imbalance of protein, carbohydrates and fat, menopause, andropause, pregnancy and nursing, medications, chemical exposure, obesogens, dehydration, thyroid and adrenal dysfunction, excessive exercising, medical conditions, chronic stress, OTC and pharmaceutical drug use, nutrient deficiencies, and many other factors.
Symptoms linked to hormone imbalances: Difficulty losing weight, insomnia, low libido, fatigue, anxiety, hot flashes, gynectomastia, belly fat, erectile dysfunction, mood swings, hair loss, acne, digestive issues, exercise resistance, PCOS, diabetes, infertility, and depression.
Whether a specific hormone is high or low, taking hormones just because lab values are out of range before exploring the root cause can create further hormonal chaos, a metabolic disaster, and a potential to disrupt the entire balance. I am not implying one should never opt for hormones, however it’s important to dig deeper to identify the root cause of the imbalances and why your hormones are increased or decreased in the first place, and then bring your body into balance through lifestyle modifications, healthier food choices ideal for your bio-individuality, looking at liver and gut function, toxic load, adrenal function, blood sugar, inflammation, nutrient deficiencies, underlying infections, and other systems that directly impact metabolism and hormone function.
• • • How to Balance Hormones Naturally • • •
Food quality matters. Food is information that affects metabolism and the production and secretion of hormones. It’s crucial to eat organic, nutrient-dense foods that stabilize blood sugar and cortisol, increase insulin sensitivity, and lower insulin levels. Instead of limiting or counting calories, choose nutrient-dense real foods that support hormone production and balance.
Processed foods, soy, grains, juice, soda, fructose, factory-farmed frankenmeat and nutritionally-void carbohydrates increase insulin, negatively impact thyroid function, testosterone production, and change how estrogen is metabolized.
Stay hydrated. The simple habit of drinking enough clean, filtered water helps balance hormones. Dehydration increases cortisol and lowers testosterone.
Limit exposure to chemicals and reduce toxic load. Obesogens are chemical-hormone disruptors that mimic and alter hormones that inhibit the thyroid, disrupt leptin, decrease testosterone, reduce insulin sensitivity, increase estrogen, risk of autoimmune diseases, and negatively affect our health.
Food additives, pesticides, phthalates, xenobiotics, BPA, plastics, heavy metals, medications, thermal receipts, plug-in air fresheners, hand sanitizers, cosmetics, personal care and cleaning products, molds, glyphosate, GMOs, halogens (fluoride, chlorine and bromide), and other environmental toxins and chemicals disrupt hormones, cause mitochrondrial dysfunction, oxidative damage, and increase risk of disease.
Pesticides affect insulin-binding receptors, reduce testosterone, increase estrogen and other hormone imbalances, increase risk of autoimmune disorders, alter the integrity of the mitochondria, disrupt metabolism, are neurotoxic, and cause numerous health problems. Just one more reason to prioritize organic foods!
Healthy, healing fats are essential as basic building blocks to make hormones. Choose anti-inflammatory fats vs pro-inflammatory fats.
Sleep. Respect your natural circadian rhythms, dampen your stress response during the day, and prioritize 7-9 hours of sleep, which will optimize glucose and melatonin, reduce cortisol, and increase insulin sensitivity, growth hormone and testosterone. Just one week of sleeping <6 hrs/night lowers testosterone by 10-15%, causes leptin-resistance and increases ghrelin, the hunger hormone.
Happy, healthy adrenals. While cortisol is vital to survival as a part of the fight-or-flight response, having chronically high or low cortisol levels result in leaky gut, blood sugar dysregulation, lower testosterone, hard-to-get-rid-of belly fat, inhibition of the thyroid and interference of T4 to T3 conversion mimicking hypothyroidism, and altered metabolism of sex hormones.
Meditating and spending time in nature lower cortisol. Chronically elevated stress hormones disrupt blood sugar, break your body down, accelerate aging, increase sugar and carb cravings, and risk of disease. Everything’s interconnected.
Gratitude. The simple act of appreciation and gratitude have a positive influence on hormones.
Reduce EMF exposure. Never wear a cell phone on your body or carry it in your pocket. Keep cell phones, television and computers out of the bedroom during sleep.
Exercise. The traditional approach of more is better is a total metabolic and hormonal disaster. Too much exercise, under-recovery or the wrong type of exercise such as long, slow distance (LSD) steady-state endurance exercise increases cortisol and adrenaline. Instead, choose activities that build you up vs those that break you down. Change the intensity, do less, train smarter, and reap greater results!
Strength training and interval-style, short-burst training such as those found in Fat Loss Revolution balanced with parasympathetic activities that reset your autonomic nervous system (yin yoga, Qi gong, Tai Chi, walking, gardening, rhythmic breathing) is ideal to balancing hormones. Find something you enjoy doing and do it!
A healthy functioning liver is essential for hormone production, detoxification, bile production to aid in digestion and emulsify fats, protein synthesis, correcting estrogen dominance, optimizing thyroid function plus hundreds of other functions.
Cholesterol is required for hormone production. Total cholesterol <160 hinders hormone production. Contrary to what you’ve been told, we need cholesterol…cholesterol is healthy!
Infections. Viral, fungal, Candida and bacterial infections can damage the gut and the brain, cause leaky gut, and have indirect effects that damage the adrenals and thyroid, cause autoimmunity, and disturb the delicate balance of hormones.
Less alcohol. Alcohol interferes with hormone function, negatively affecting growth hormone, luteinizing hormone and testosterone production, and increases insulin, cortisol, estrogen and aromatization. Long-term alcohol abuse interferes with the HPA axis, resulting in reduced testosterone and feminization in men.
OTC and Rx drugs interfere with production and balance of hormones. The list includes NSAIDs, statins, opioids, oral contraceptives, anti-depressants, antacids, antibiotics, anti-psychotics, synthetic hormones, chemotherapy drugs, beta blockers, anti-histamines, tranquilizers, anti-fungals, spironolactone and blood-thinning drugs.
Support hormone balance with basic building block nutrients. Zinc, vitamin D, magnesium, digestive support and essential fatty acids. Identify your unique nutrient deficiencies via a blood chemistry analysis.
Set small goals and build upon them. Yes, all of this information can be overwhelming. And, it is just that – information. Change can only happen when the information is applied and followed consistently to where it eventually becomes habitual and part of your lifestyle. Keep it simple! Start with just one or two things that you want to change, develop or improve upon, and commit, dedicate and pour your energy into it. The effort is well worth it as you notice improvements in your mood, behavior, physical appearance, energy, and hormone balance. Small changes add up over time...that's how life-changing transformation happens! Now, that’s empowering!
As a holistic nutritionist and functional health practitioner with over 25 years of experience, my philosophy is to identify the root cause of any hormone imbalance and underlying health complaints or problems, slowly "peel away the layers of the onion," and design a healing protocol and comprehensive LIFESTYLE plan specific to your unique biochemistry so you can heal, experience vibrant health, balanced hormones, age well, and look, think and feel better than ever for a lifetime. I consult with men and women throughout the U.S. and with clients locally in the Phoenix, AZ area. Schedule a free 15-minute consultation! Thank you!
Copyright © Paula Owens. All rights reserved.
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