Let me start by saying I am not an expert in balanced hormones. I am, however, a black belt level expert in unbalanced hormones. Everything I’m about to share with you quite literally comes from my own experience and the things that helped me out of my hormone hole, so I hope there is something here that can help you, too.
So. The “H” word. What’s the big deal? What do hormones affect? In short, everything. In fact, your hormones and gut health can have a bigger effect on your health than anything else, even if your diet is sparkling clean. Hormones are your body’s chemical messengers, and if they are off, your quality of life can be greatly affected (not to mention the quality of life of those around you; if everyone is annoying, you might be the common denominator). Your mood, weight, muscle tone, fertility, sleep, skin health, metabolism, sexual function, bowel health, anxiety, depression, and productivity (or lack thereof), are quite dependent on hormone and gut health.
After being diagnosed with adrenal fatigue, I was desperate to find help because I was exhausted all the time, had zero motivation, and couldn’t lose weight no matter what I did (think tons of exercise and kale and carrot smoothies…I was desperate!). So, after taking a saliva test and working with a local group of holistic doctors, I’ve learned a few basics that have helped. I’m going to share some things with you that will help right away, but if you are really struggling I would recommend a similar protocol to take out the guesswork. Side note, the saliva or Dutch are the most accurate for hormone testing because they measure levels all day, not just at one sitting like a typical blood test.
Your mood, weight, muscle tone, fertility, sleep, skin health, metabolism, sexual function, bowel health, anxiety, depression, and productivity (or lack thereof), are all dependent on hormone and gut health.
Without further adieu, here is an acronym to help you on your journey toward becoming the flower in your hair, Enya-listening, zen woman that has been patiently meditating behind your mood swings waiting for her debut:
Plant good seeds, reap the fruit of healthy hormones!
Avoid it like the plague! When you’re in fight or flight mode and your stress hormones are on overload, your adrenals become fatigued and your hormones depleted. Stress is literally a killer and has been linked to inflammation which is the root of disease. Meditate, pray, get rid of chaos, and find your happy place. Your life literally depends on it! Read more on relieving stress here or here!
To balance your hormones naturally, it’s important that you eliminate toxins in your body by avoiding conventional body care and cleaning products and excess plastics (think food storage and water in plastic bottles—replace with glass!). These chemicals can disrupt your endocrine system by mimicking hormones and lead to estrogen mutations which can actually lead to cancer.
Things made with harmful chemicals such as DEA, parabens, propylene glycol, BPA, and sulfates are just a few of the many culprits and should be avoided at all costs. You can replace these products with organic alternatives and even make your own for pennies on the dollar using ingredients like essential oils, vinegar, coconut oil, shea butter, and castor oil. Essential oils specific to hormone balance are clary sage, fennel, lavender, sandalwood, and thyme. Make sure these are from a trusted source as well and are not synthetic. Read more on essential oils here!
Exercise is important for managing several risk factors associated with menopause and PMS complications, and can even reverse anxiety and depression. Extended cardio, however, can be taxing on the body, disrupting hormones even further. Stick to heavy lifting which triggers beneficial hormone reactions and yoga, rebounding, walking, or swimming. Here are some popular ways to get some exercise!
Increase healthy fats which act as building blocks for your hormones (avocado, coconut oil, grass-fed butter, olive oil, etc.). Avoid too much caffeine and alcohol, and drastically reduce or eliminate sugar and refined carbohydrates and anything processed. Focus on leafy greens and organic fruits and vegetables, grass-fed and sustainably-raised meat and eggs. Drink lots of clean, fluoride and chlorine-free water (think alkaline water, Berkey filter, or reverse osmosis with minerals added back in).
Also increase antioxidants and adaptogens, which are plants or herbs that help balance your adrenals and support your hormone health. Supplements for hormone health include B vitamins, Vitamin C, maca powder, vitamin D3, cod liver oil, magnesium, Vitex, evening primrose, ashwagandha, holy basil, and red raspberry leaves which you can drink in the form of tea. And don’t forget to take probiotics and avoid food allergies, which will support your digestive health. This is key to balancing hormones as 70% of your immune system lies in your digestive tract. Try making some simple diet switches found in this article!
This might be the most important. Without adequate sleep, hormones cannot balance. Make sure you are asleep between the hours of 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. which is when your hormones reset. 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 be extremely detrimental to your health. If you are struggling with sleep, check out this article!
One last thing: I would be remiss if I didn’t give you a strong warning against conventional treatments that often lead to even worse imbalances and dependence on prescriptions. Be extremely wary of synthetic hormones, birth control pills, insulin injections, and thyroid prescriptions. These might be a temporary band-aid for your symptoms, but they can lead to worse side effects down the road such as stroke, osteoporosis, anxiety, cancer, and more. A holistic approach might take longer and more effort, but it will actually result in true healing instead of a temporary fix that can leave you worse than before you started.
Go forth, you zen woman, you. Plant your seeds and water them! Just make sure that water isn’t toxic because it can also disrupt your hormones. Ha… But seriously.
Don’t miss the discussion we had when Ashby joined us on our podcast This Grit and Grace Life: How to Get Your Hormones in Check with Ashby Duval – 070!