Feeling bloated, foggy, drained, anxious or depressed? Gaining weight around the belly?
Chances are your hormones are trying to tell you something.
Hormones don’t just make teenagers moody and cause hot flashes in women. They affect nearly every function in your body: man, woman, child, and teenager.
When they get out of whack, they can scream for attention. And that’s the time to consider balancing your hormones – naturally – to get things back in line.
1. Eat Enough Healthy Fats
The body is simply not meant to consume the man-made fats found in vegetable oils. The fat content of the human body is largely saturated fat, with only about 3% of the body’s fat coming from other types.
The 3% of the body made up of polyunsaturated fats contains both Omega-3 fats and Omega-6 fats in about a 50:50 balance. This ratio is extremely important for health, and it is often ignored. Seed based vegetable oils (like canola oil, soybean oil, etc.) are very high in Omega-6 fats and low in Omega-3 fats. Since the 1950s, these seed based oils have replaced many sources of saturated fats and Omega-3s in the diet. This is one of the reasons that most people are not getting enough vital Omega-3 fatty acids from their diet.
Not only are we consuming way too many omega-6 fatty acids from polyunsaturated vegetable oils, but we are not consuming enough beneficial Omega-3s and saturated fats. These types of fats are vital for proper cell function and especially for hormone function, as these are literally the building blocks for hormone production. When we don’t give the body adequate amounts of these fats, it must use what is available, relying on lower quality polyunsaturated fats.
The trouble is that polyunsaturated fats are less stable and oxidize easily in the body, which can lead to inflammation and mutations within the body. Emerging evidence suggests that that this inflammation can occur in arterial cells (potentially increasing the chance of clogged arteries), skin cells (leading to skin mutations) and reproductive cells (which may be connected to PCOS and other hormone problems).
Bottom line: Don’t eat fats like vegetable oil, peanut oil, canola oil, soybean oil, margarine, shortening, or other chemically altered fats. Choose fats like coconut oil, real butter, olive oil (don’t heat it!) and animal fats (tallow, lard) from healthy sources instead and eat lots of high Omega-3 fish.
2. Limit Your Caffeine
The truth is that too much caffeine can wreak havoc on the endocrine system, especially if there are other hormone stressors involved, like pregnancy, presence of toxins, beneficial fat imbalance or stress.
Cut down the coffee if you can, or replace with beneficial herbal teas. If you can’t or won’t cut the coffee, use it as a way to sneak in your beneficial fats by adding 1 tablespoon coconut oil to each cup and blending in the blender to emulsify. It is like a latte but with healthy fats!
4. Prioritize Sleep
I can’t emphasize this one enough! Without adequate sleep, hormones will not be in balance. Period. (This is the one I struggle with the most!)
While you’re sleeping, your body is extremely active removing toxins, recharging the mind, and creating hormones. Skimping on sleep, even for one night, can have a tremendous impact on hormones and even one night of missed or shortened sleep can create the hormone levels of a pre-diabetic .
Try some of these tips to help improve sleep:
- Improve your sleep environment by removing artificial light, optimizing temperature and sound, and other stimuli.
- If possible, remove chemicals from your mattress and choose a non-toxic mattress that supports sleep naturally.
- Create a daily routine to help support your natural circadian rhythms. Wake up and go to bed at the same time, even on weekends to keep your hormone cycle regular.
- Eat a high protein/high fat snack a few hours before bed (7pm or earlier) or consume a lot at dinner.
- Get a lot of natural light during the day, and spend at least 30 minutes outside each day if possible.
- Drink enough water during the day and stop drinking about 2 hours before bed so you don’t have to wake up to use the bathroom.
- Take a soothing salt bath about an hour before bed with some relaxing music or a great book.
- Pray, meditate or find a way to reduce stress.
- Give yourself a massage before bed to release stress and help relax. Stretch before bed to relax muscles.
5. Supplement Wisely
Unfortunately, we live in a world where the food supply is often depleted of nutrients due to over-farming, the water is often contaminated with chemicals, and even the air can contain compounds that cause havoc in the body.
Ideally, we could get all of our nutrients from food, properly hydrate from water, and get enough Vitamin D from the sun on a daily basis. We’d get magnesium from the ocean and not get deficient in the first place since we’d be consuming adequate minerals from eating fresh seafood. Since this is rarely the case, supplements can sometimes be needed!
NOTE: Make sure to check with your doctor or health care professional before taking any new supplements, especially if you are on medications or contraceptives.
Maca– A hormone boosting tuber in the radish family with a long history of use in Peru. Women who use this often see improvements in fertility, reduction in PMS and better skin/hair. It can help men with sperm production, testosterone levels and muscle composition. Maca is a good source of minerals and essential fatty acids, which is one of the ways it supports hormone balance.
Magnesium– Magnesium is vital for hundreds of functions within the human body and many of us are deficient in this master mineral.
Vitamin D & Omega-3s– A pre-hormone is supportive of hormone function. Best obtained from the sun if possible, or from a D3 supplement or Cod Liver Oil. Make sure not to get too much, and optimally, get Serum Vitamin D levels checked to monitor levels.
Collagen- a great source of minerals and necessary amino acids. Collagen powders support hormone production and digestive health in various ways. Collagen protein can be easily added to soups, smoothies, coffee, tea or any other food. Here’s where I get my collagen –> click me
7. Support Digestive Health
The digestive system has much more of an impact on hormones than many of us realize. Not only is the digestive tract the source of many vital neurotransmitters in the body, but an imbalance in the gut can translate to an imbalance in neurotransmitter and hormones.
Serotonin, a necessary neurotransmitter for sleep/stress balance is more concentrated in the gut than even in the brain! 70% of the immune system is found in the gut and it is quite literally the motherboard of many functions in the body.
8. Balance Blood Sugar Levels
Hormone insulin regulates your blood sugar and communicates with other hormones. It is essential for the balancing of blood sugar through your diet for hormone balance.
Since white sugar is the worst blood sugar disruptor, avoiding it by eliminating processed foods – and replacing it with natural sweeteners wherever possible – is the first step to balancing your blood sugar.
You can further promote blood sugar balance through your diet by adding protein or a healthy fat at every meal.
For hormone and blood sugar balance, it’s essential to pair any sugar source – such as starchy carbs like sweet potatoes or fruit – with protein or healthy fats to help slow the release of sugar into your bloodstream. This will prevent sugar from rapidly entering your bloodstream.
Fiber is another important nutrient when it comes to balancing your blood sugar. Since fiber is slow to digest, foods with a lot of it have less impact on blood sugar levels. This explains why the sugar in fibrous fruit has a different impact on the body than white sugar, which has no fiber at all.
Good fiber sources: fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and unprocessed whole grains such as brown rice or buckwheat.
9. Add Gentle Exercise
Not only is exercise one of the most effective natural remedies for stress relief, it also promotes hormone balance by balancing your blood sugar.
If you’re under a lot of stress, try adding gentle exercise like yoga to your routine to start, rather than intense exercise like high-intensity interval training, which can initially cause more physical stress to your body, promoting the release of even more cortisol.
Yoga helps destress both your mind and body. It’s safe to practice multiple times per week to promote hormone balance, without adding additional physical stress to the body.
In fact, your body can benefit from as little as 5 minutes of yoga each morning.