Ooooh, the hot topic that we all love – hormones! What are they and how do we keep them balanced? Is it possible to balance hormones naturally? Well for one, being on top of your liver function is one key way. Here are some other tips to bring your endocrine system back into balance.
Hormones are critical chemical messengers and major players when it comes to your overall health. Glands secrete various hormones for use in the body. The female hormones estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, are made for the most part, in the female ovary, and to a lesser extent in the adrenal glands. Of course, cortisol, insulin, and thyroid are important hormones, and I’ll delve deeper into their functions in another post.
Signs of Hormone Imbalance
The entire endocrine system works together. If one hormone is imbalanced, it throws the whole system off. This makes achieving balance a little more difficult.
How can we identify imbalances? Here are some symptoms that can alert you that something is off:
- Difficulty getting pregnant or maintaining a pregnancy, endometriosis or anything having to do with reproduction
- Fatigue and insomnia – these play off of each other creating a vicious cycle
- Mood disorders such as anxiety and depression – irritability is a big one also
- Unexplained weight loss or weight gain due to changes in metabolism
- Digestive issues and changes in appetite – this is one that is not readily correlated to hormone function
- Hair loss, low libido, and low self-esteem
- Just feeling “off” and you don’t know why
- A nagging sense of unease or unhappiness that can be related to your cycle or constant
How To Balance Hormones Naturally
The Importance of Diet in Hormone Regulation
The gut microbiome and overall gut function play an important role in hormone balance. Food allergies and sensitivities can lead to dysregulated blood sugar, which, if left untreated long term, results in diabetes and obesity. Both of these conditions are inflammatory in nature, and this dreaded inflammation does a number on female hormones.
Eating unprocessed, high-fiber foods in the correct macro-nutrient ratio, ensures blood-sugar levels that are in range, leading to lower inflammatory markers. Designing your meals is easy: eat approximately four to six ounces of healthy protein, a cup or so of fibrous, low-starch vegetables, around 1/2 cup of starch, then, top it off with one to two tablespoons of fat. Focus on whole, organic, unprocessed food. Your blood-sugar levels, mood, weight, digestive capacity, and sleep patterns will thank you!
It’s the starch that gets us in trouble so stick with 1/2 cup or less. If you feel unsatisfied after a meal, try eating a little more fat instead of searching your cupboards for cake and candy.
Our bodies crave good fats and minerals so load up on nutrient-dense foods, and remember to eat starchy carbs (the good stuff) in moderation. The less toxic food and chemicals your liver has to filter, the better it can concentrate on eliminating toxic hormones.
It’s easy to check your blood sugar from home using a glucometer, and is one of the best ways to stay on top of your health.
The Role Exercise Plays
Exercise plays an important role in female hormone balance in that it helps regulate the two big hormonal players – cortisol and insulin. These two hormones need to be balanced due to their effect on ovarian function. Two of my favorite forms of exercise are interval training and walking.
Interval training drives down excess insulin levels and burns fat, thus decreasing inflammation, which is a major hormone disruptor. High-intensity exercise, lasting approximately 30 seconds, is followed by a rest period of the same amount or longer. This short duration of intense exercise doesn’t lead to adrenal burnout, which is true of other forms of exercise, such as extreme cardio or long-distance running. Healthy adrenal function plays an important role in female hormone balance. Stationary bikes and weight lifting are both great ways to implement interval training into your day.
Walking, while it won’t burn fat like interval training, is great for decreasing cortisol levels due to unhealthy blood-sugar levels and stress. This, along with a consistent interval-training program, is effective in keeping cortisol levels in a healthy range.
Stretching is another favorite of mine as it decreases stress, and strengthens the mind-body connection. Flexibility is a major marker in aging so spending a few minutes everyday stretching is worth doing. Breathing and meditation can both be incorporated into a stretching routine. Decreased stress levels lead to better hormonal health!
Diet and exercise strategies that foster a balanced endocrine system are really pretty easy to engage in on a daily basis if one is committed to their health. Consistency, not perfection, is the key and one in which we are all capable of doing if we realize the beneficial effects of our efforts.
The endocrine system is the one system in the body that is most closely tied to emotions, mood and motivation so keeping it running smoothly is certainly worth the effort. We all want to feel more relaxed, motivated and empowered, and peaceful and happy.
We can’t feel this way if our hormones are running wild. This can actually be a vicious cycle in that our hormone balance affects our moods, and our not-so-happy moods affect our hormones. It’s a cycle we want to manage, rather than having it manage us.
Besides all this your liver will function better without having to process all the anger, sadness and frustration that’s thrown at it due to the lack of homeostasis that so many people deal with today in our stress-filled environments.
Let me know what you think in this comments:)
(1) NCBI: High-intensity interval training for health benefits and care of cardiac diseases – The key to an efficient exercise protocol
(2) NCBI: High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss
(3) PubMed: Diet or Exercise Interventions vs Combined Behavioral Weight Management Programs: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Direct Comparisons
(4) NCBI: Stress and hormones
(5) NCBI: Central effects of stress hormones in health and disease: understanding the protective and damaging effects of stress and stress mediators
Disclaimer: This article is strictly for informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice.