Feeling a little “off” lately? Your hormones could be to blame. While most people think hormones are those pesky, naturally-occurring chemicals that cause mood swings, they actually go far beyond that.
Hormones are a complex system, but it’s important to know they are responsible for many functions throughout the body—metabolism, sleep, skin health, mental health, sex drive and more. And when they’re out of whack, that can mean major consequences for your health, including weight gain, low libido, hair thinning, depression, anxiety and leaky gut, along with a host of other conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), hypothyroidism and diabetes.
Here are 10 ways you can naturally balance your hormones through simple dietary and lifestyle changes.
10 Simple Tips to Keep Your Hormones Balanced Naturally
Try Adaptogenic Herbs
You’ve likely herb of adaptogenic herbs by now. Used for centuries in herbal medicine, adaptogens are a unique group of healing herbs that help protect and defend the body against ailments or disease, specifically those related to stress. This class of herbs provides strength, energy, stamina, endurance, and can also improve mental clarity in additional to hormone support. Here are a few we recommend:
- Ashwagandha – most commonly used to help fight and reduce stress and anxiety within the body.
- Licorice – a natural adrenal restorative agent, licorice also helps to protect the gut and help with inflammation.
- Pegaga (Gotu Kola) – touted as the “miracle elixir of life,” Pegaga (Gotu Kola) is another adaptogen known to help ease stress and anxiety, amongst many other health benefits. It is also said to aid in the stimulation of the pituitary and thyroid glands.
Remember, it’s always important to check with your healthcare provider before starting a new regimen to see which additions are right for you.
Supplement with Supplements
While it’s ideal to get all our nutrients from the foods we eat, our water intake and the sun, it’s not always realistic. Which is where supplements come in! Here are a few supplements that are beneficial to the hormone balancing process:
- Magnesium – sometimes referred to as the “master” mineral, Magnesium helps with hundreds of functions within the human body. It has also been shown to reduce the symptoms of PMS.
- Vitamin D – this nutrient is especially helpful for fertility. Research shows women dealing with infertility are often deficient in vitamin D3.
- B-Complex – an especially important supplement that helps counteract the overproduction of estrogen (which is the leading cause of hormonal dysfunction) by increasing progesterone in the body.
- Probiotics – essential for maintaining healthy gut bacteria, which in return helps to manage many hormonal conditions, including the metabolization of estrogen.
Remember, it’s always important to check with your healthcare provider before starting a new supplement regimen to see which additions are right for you.
Don’t Fear the Fats
Eating a variety of foods that provide quality, healthy fats (Omega-3s) is essential to keeping your hormones balanced. Studies show incorporating medium and long-chain fatty acids into your diet helps to balance the hormones that moderate appetite while also stimulating the healthy digestion of fat and protein. Some healthy fats to start incorporating into your diet include avocados, coconut oil, grass-fed butter and meats, and wild-caught fatty fish, such as salmon.
Adequate Protein at Every Meal
Similar to healthy fats, protein helps to regulate the release of hormones related to appetite control and hunger. Research even shows that a protein-rich meal decreases the “hunger hormone” called ghrelin. Not to mention, protein provides you with the essential amino acids your body needs - but can’t produce on its own - to maintain muscle and bone health.
Avoid Sugar & Refined Carbs
A constant barrage of sugar and refined carbs wrecks havoc on your body. When you consume sugar and simple carbohydrates on a consistent basis, your body's working overtime to balance your blood sugar, overproducing insulin to help. With time, this excess of insulin can result in your body become insulin resistant, which can play a large part in hormonal imbalances in the body. Instead, replace your simple carbs (white bread, pasta, crackers) with a balance of complex carbohydrates (whole grains, beans, legumes, starchy vegetables), protein, fiber and healthy fats.
Load Up on Cruciferous Veggies
Not only do these vegetables - broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower - serve as a great source of fiber and keep you feeling full longer, they also help to bind to excess estrogen in the gut and flush it all out.
This is a non-negotiable! Your body needs at least seven to nine hours of sleep per night to adequately rebalance and replenish your hormones. One of the most beneficial hormones (HGH, the human growth hormone or sometimes referred to as the “magic youth hormone”) is released during your stage-3 sleep, so it ultra important to get good shuteye every night. Having trouble winding down at night? There are a few things that help, like limiting caffeine intake, avoiding exercise late in the evening, keeping a consistent bedtime, or even meditating before bed.
Get Your Exercise On
Much like sleep, regular physical activity is important to maintaining hormonal health. Exercise benefits your body in many ways, but in terms of hormones, it helps balance insulin as well as muscle-maintaining hormones like testosterone, DHEA and growth hormone. However, it’s important to note that if you suffer from a hormone imbalance already, prolonged intense exercise may not be for you. Gyms around the world are starting to address this issue with a new form of interval training called LISS, or low-intensity interval training.
Manage Your Stress
No one likes stress. Especially not your hormones! Cortisol and adrenaline, the two major hormones affected by stress, can do quite a number on your body when elevated. Over time, consistent, increased levels of cortisol are linked with excessive calorie intake, obesity and increased belly fat. And consistent increased adrenaline can lead to high blood pressure and anxiety. Try to be more mindful about how you handle stress, and dedicate time each day to stress-reducing activities like exercise, meditation or yoga.
Turn Your Beauty Routine Green
If you haven’t already made the switch to a green beauty routine, now is the time! Not only are you doing good for the planet, ditching those nasty chemicals, like parabens, found in many cosmetics, shampoos and personal care products means one less thing to throw off your hormones.
Switch to Glass Containers
If possible, ditch the BPA-containing plastics. Studies show the BPA found in many plastic containers and bottles can mimic estrogen, thus throwing off your hormones. Make the switch to glass instead, especially if you’re planning on reheating leftovers!