Hormone Balance: 4 things you should be doing every day!
If you’ve been dealing with a difficult transition through menopause, painful periods, infertility or subfertility, uterine fibroids, irregular or absent periods, or hormonal acne (etc., etc.,..) then this article was written with you in mind!
Actually, most women at one point or another will deal with health issues that relate back to their hormonal and reproductive health. That’s because our hormones - estrogens, progesterone, testosterone, and DHEAs just to name a few - are an important part of a dynamic symphony of processes within the body affecting every cell, every tissue, every organ, and every organ system.
From our brains to our intestines, and everything in between, our hormones have a say in how it all goes. And because women have a menstrual cycle, it gets even more complicated - everything has to be timed, synchronized, and balanced.
Begin transforming your health. As you start to integrate these 4 best practices into your lifestyle you should start to experience a greater sense of wellbeing and alleviation of symptoms. Once a solid foundation of healthy lifestyle practices have been set, you can confidently build upon that . So let’s get down to the nitty gritty!
Here goes your top 4 hormone balancing approaches:
1. Eat Real, Organic, and Hormone-free Food
Our bodies are built to filter, process, and eliminate unnecessary and toxic substances, but when we bombard our bodies with the chemicals, pesticides, and hormones found in processed and conventionally farmed foods we tend to overwhelm these natural mechanisms. We are left with a build up of chemicals that can occupy estrogen receptors, thereby displacing our own estrogens and having negative consequences on our organ and hormonal systems as a whole.
So what should you be eating?
Eat plenty of healthy fats which make up every living cell in your body. Your best fats include those from fatty fish like wild alaskan salmon, fish oil, flaxseed oil, eggs, raw nuts and seeds, and avocado.
Aim for 4+ servings of vegetables per day, with the more being better. Consume an array of cruciferous, leafy green, and root vegetables - broccoli, cauliflower, beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, collards, turnips, brussel sprouts.
Load up on fruits highest in antioxidants such as blueberries, raspberries, pomegranate, and cherries.
Ensure adequate intake of protein at each meal whether vegetarian, poultry, or red meat. Choose pasture-raised, grass-fed, antibiotic-free, hormone-free, or even wild game varieties.
Get familiar with your herbs and spices and flavourings like turmeric, garlic, seaweeds, sesame seeds, cilantro, parsley, ginger, and cinnamon.
Check out the Environmental Working Group’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ and ‘Clean Fifteen’ for an up-to-date list of fruits and vegetables highest and lowest in pesticides, respectively. Emphasize home-cooked meals - you’d be surprised by the amount of chemicals, and not to mention added sodium, found in restaurant-prepared and prepackaged foods (try my homemade bread recipe in section 3!).
2. Choose Safer Home and Personal Care Products
Did you know that what we put on our skin is absorbed into our bloodstream? The lotions and potions we all use each and every day often contains the same if not more endocrine disrupting chemicals mentioned above, and these accumulate in our bodies overtime.
We have a choice though! We can lessen our body burden by choosing simple ingredients and natural products. The Environmental Working Group is, again, a fantastic resource for this - check out their Skin Deep webpage to access a search engine to find out how your products are rated. https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ Products that tend to be heaviest in health damaging chemicals? Bubble baths, hair dyes, nail polish, talc-based powder, perfume, deodorant, petroleum-based products, and baby wipes.
3. Commit to a Regular Sleep-Wake Cycle
Lack of sleep quality and quantity has be shown to negatively impact a wide range of hormones including our metabolism setting thyroid hormones, the appetite suppressing leptin, the blood sugar balancing insulin, and your stress moderating cortisol. Studies have even uncovered an association between irregular sleep-wake cycles and breast cancer tumour responsiveness to the drug tamoxifen, and possibly an increased risk of breast cancer - likely because of a relationship between suppressed melatonin levels (our sleep hormone) and increased estrogen activity.
If you are having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, this needs to be addressed. Try introducing a bedtime ritual to get yourself settled before bed, avoid stimulating activities, discontinue using a tv/computer/phone within an hour or bed, and give a relaxing sleepy-time tea a try. Otherwise, it’s time to book an appointment to get to the bottom of your trouble.
4. Optimize Your Digestion - You Are What You Eat, After All!
If you experience gas, bloating, irregular bowel movements, constipation, loose stools, diarrhea, reflux, or heartburn, then your digestive system is in need of an overhaul! This is an area that requires a little bit of detective work so keep a journal of your diet and your symptoms to uncover the common offenders. Follow this up by speaking with your Naturopathic Doctor about your concerns and he or she will work together to optimize your digestion, heal your intestines, and help you feel your best. Why does this matter, you ask? Your digestive tract is not only supremely important for (#1) absorbing the right nutrients for hormone metabolism but also for (#2) eliminating all the junk and chemicals your body doesn’t want - this includes toxins and chemicals that negatively affect your hormones. What goes in must come out, and if it doesn’t then that’s a problem.
Tip 1: I like to start off my day with ½ tbsp Bragg’s apple cider vinegar in 1 cup of water - drink about ¼ cup to help kick start digestion by acidifying the stomach prior to eating breakfast.
Tip 2: Up your fiber intake by adding 2 tbsp of freshly ground flaxseeds to your food throughout the day. Cold-milled flaxseeds not only contain both soluble and insoluble fiber but also phytoestrogens which has a positive, modulating effect on estrogen receptor sites. Remember to increase your water intake whenever introducing more fiber to your diet so as to keep your bowels well hydrated and moving properly.