Hormones are often called “chemical messengers” and are responsible for nearly every body function, from notifying you that you’re hungry to triggering organ systems like reproduction into action. A hormonal imbalance can thus have drastic effects on your emotional, physical, and mental health, making actively trying to balance your hormones very important in keeping your body healthy and operating at its best.
Symptoms of a hormone imbalance often include:
- Changes to bowel movements, either constipation or more frequent ones
- Changes to heart rate, either increased or decreased
- Cold and heat sensitivity
- Decreased sex drive
- Dry skin
- Frequent urination
- Increased anxiety, depression, irritability, or nervousness
- Increased hunger
- Muscle aches, stiffness, tenderness, or weakness
- Puffiness or roundness in the face
- Thinning or fine, brittle hair
- Unexplained weight loss
- Weight gain
The symptoms alone can be unpleasant, but understanding why a hormone imbalance has occurred is the first step to correcting it. Conventional prescription medications are not your only treatment options, either! This guide will help you learn how to balance your hormones naturally.
1. Adjust Your Diet
Our bodies naturally produce hormones, but what you eat greatly affects the number of hormones produced. Assessing your diet is one of the easiest ways to learn what might be causing a hormone imbalance, as a well-balanced diet will ensure you are getting all the vitamins and minerals needed for healthy hormones. Tailor your diet to hormone health by focusing on cruciferous vegetables, protein, and essential healthy fats.
2. Choose Cleansing Greens
Cleansing greens include cruciferous vegetables, or big, leafy greens. Switching away from consuming processed foods to a diet that includes leafy greens helps promote a healthy gut, which is key to returning your digestive system to optimal function and reducing hormonal problems. The following cleansing greens and vegetables are high in fiber and have high antioxidant properties:
- Bok choy
- Brussel sprouts
3. Eat Enough Protein
Protein is necessary for proper muscle and organ function, which is crucial to keeping your hormone levels balanced. Too much or too little might trigger the wrong amount of hormone production, for example, which can create both short- and long-term issues. The right amount of protein in your diet helps reduce levels of ghrelin, the “hunger hormone,” and is necessary for muscle, bone, and skin health. Research has identified anabolic and metabolic benefits to consuming at least 20-30g of protein per meal, which help balance your hormones.
4. Don’t Forget the Dietary Fats
While fat is a word that terrifies us when trying to adjust our diets, dietary fat is essential for maintaining healthy hormones. Not all fats are created equal, though, and trans fats and human-made fats from vegetable oils can wreak havoc on your body. Instead, focus on healthy options from sources like fish, avocados, coconut and palm oils, and olive oil.
5. Cut Back on Sugar and Coffee
Many might have trouble with the idea of not waking up to a morning cup of coffee, but both sugar and caffeine can eventually lead to hormone imbalance issues. Try cutting back or switching to alternatives like matcha tea, which is lower in caffeine and high in antioxidants. Extensive amounts of sugar can meanwhile throw off your body’s production of insulin, which can worsen other health problems. The less sugar you consume, the better chance you have to balance your hormones.
6. Make Time for Regular Exercise
Just like your diet, exercise has a significant impact on hormones. Regular physical activity strongly influences hormonal health, from increasing serotonin and dopamine levels to regulating those of estrogen and testosterone. Exercise is a natural way to combat mood swings because it keeps mood-related and stress hormones in balance. It also reduces your insulin levels and increases insulin sensitivity, which makes it easier for your body to control hunger and blood sugar.
7. Manage Your Stress Levels
Stress is sometimes unavoidable, but it can be detrimental to our health if we do not find ways to combat or regulate it. Stress affects hormones as well as heart health, mental health, blood sugar levels, and fertility, among other functions. You will want to pay particular attention to minimizing cortisol and adrenaline, otherwise known as the stress hormones. Devote at least 10 to 15 minutes per day to the following stress-reducing activities to promote a healthy hormone balance:
- Exercise that increases the heart rate, including walking, running, weightlifting, cycling, swimming, paddleboarding, hiking, or other cardiovascular boosters
- Yoga and light stretching
- Listening to soothing music
- Taking up a soothing hobby, like coloring, sewing, or gardening
- Treating yourself to a massage or spa day
8. Get Enough Sleep
One in three adults do not get enough sleep, but deprivation can lead to overeating and other hormonal issues. Adequate sleep is a great way to help balance your hormones naturally, so here are a few tips to help improve your sleep habits.
- Disconnect from technology one to two hours before going to bed
- Stay out of bed unless you are sleeping
- Establish a consistent schedule
- Reduce caffeine intake
- Keep stress levels low
9. Limit Toxins
Toxins are substances that alter metabolic activity. Your liver metabolizes hormones as well as detoxes your body of harmful substances when they are introduced. This means it prioritizes removing toxins over regulating hormones after a large intake, which can negatively impact hormone levels. Some toxins may be obvious and easy to avoid, but others may be hidden in items you use each day. Here are some tips for limiting toxins:
- Avoid drinking from plastic water bottles
- Wash produce before eating or cooking, ideally soaking them in an alkaline bath for 15 minutes
- Opt for organic whenever possible
- Avoid cleaning supplies with harmful chemicals and use natural alternatives
- Pay close attention to the ingredients in your body care products
The Importance of Balancing Your Hormones Naturally
Pinpointing the culprit of hormone disruptions may be difficult, but imbalances are dangerous to your health. Not treating them can lead to everything from painful PMS symptoms to thyroid disease and beyond, making it important that you do everything you can to keep your hormones balanced.
Dr. Karen Threlkel has been helping individuals treat various conditions with natural, holistic treatments for years. If you have questions or concerns about how to balance your hormones naturally, or if you’re just not sure where to start, make an appointment for a consultation today!