There is often discussion and mention of hormones in women’s health but do you know what they are, what they do and if yours are imbalanced or healthy?
As I’m not a doctor or scientist I’ve rounded up the work of Dr Chris Kresser (drchriskresser.com), Dr Josh Axe (draxe.com) and Dr Christine Horner (Institute of Vibrant Living) to give you my simple interpretation on the role hormones play.
HORMONES are your body’s chemical messengers and assist practically every physiological process in your body including:
- Immune system
- Menstrual cycle
The endocrine system is the control centre for hormones, and the brain, specifically the hypothalamus and pituitary glands play an integral role in regulating all hormone production in the body.
Our hormones are secreted by various glands and organs including the thyroid, adrenals, ovaries and pancreas. There is a complex interplay between different hormones so hormonal imbalance could mean that having too much or too little of one hormone will affect the performance of other hormones. Even a slight imbalance can cause major health problems so balance is vital for our body to function properly.
Hormonal imbalance could be caused by a number of factors including poor diet, elevated omega 6 oils (found in processed and packaged food), lack of exercise, inadequate sleep, elevated stress, long term use of birth control pills, genetics, and environmental toxins like heavy metals, mould, pesticides and chemicals like BPA in plastics.
So how do you know if your hormones are unbalanced?
Symptoms are many and varied but some signs include the following:
- Infertility and irregular periods
- Weight gain/weight loss (with no change in diet)
- Depression or anxiety
- Low libido
- Changes in appetite
- Digestive issues
- Brain fog
- Hair loss/thinning
The good news is that balancing hormones is achievable naturally by making some tweaks to diet and lifestyle choices.
To balance hormones naturally:
- Eat healthy fats like avocado, nuts, olives and olive oil (unheated) or coconut oil (heated & unheated)
- Balance your intake of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fats by consuming good quality wild caught fish, cod liver oil, sardines, mackerel etc as well as adding chia, flax and hemp seeds and walnuts to your diet while avoiding processed & packaged foods containing vegetable oils high in omega 6.
- Improve gut health by consuming a nutritious diet of wholefoods incorporating bone broth and fermented foods if possible and lots of leafy greens.
- Eliminate toxic kitchen, beauty and body care products from your home replacing them with safe and natural alternatives. This includes bake ware and pans with Teflon coatings and all makeup, skincare and perfume containing chemical ingredients.
- Exercise – any exercise that you enjoy and can stick to is great but HIIT (high intensity interval training) is best.
- Reduce and/or manage stress as high cortisol levels can wreak havoc on the body.
- Take adaptogen herbs to regulate hormone function. For example Ashwagandha (for thyroid, adrenals), Chasteberry (for PMS) and Maca root (for stamina, stress relief).
- Get more sleep and improve the quality of it by following a sleep routine.
- Watch caffeine and alcohol intake
- Back off birth control pills as they deplete the body of zinc, magnesium, B6 and other nutrients.
We can also help our kids grow up with healthy hormones by following the same lifestyle tips. We need to ensure they get enough sleep (without screen time before bed which will disrupt their circadian rhythms) and try not to overschedule them with too many activities and classes that could increase cortisol levels.
We all want the best health for our families so setting them up with healthy hormones is a great start. Our aim is to have our hormones working in harmony so balancing our own hormones is a fantastic way to get our groove back and feel our absolute best.