Headaches, brain fog, mood swings, heavy periods, cramps, weight gain, stress, anxiety, insomnia, acne, hair loss, sensitivity to cold, bloating, fatigue. All parts of being a woman…right?
Just because these symptoms among women are common does not mean that they are normal. With the constant stress coming at us from every angle— media, work, home—it can be hard to slow down and actually listen to what our bodies need, and it can be easier to say, “that’s just how it is.”
These symptoms are a sure sign that you are suffering from a hormonal imbalance. We weren’t put on this earth to “just get by,” feeling low and down most of the time. We were put here to feel alive. To find our purpose and achieve our desires. But who can do that when they feel like crap?
I’ve got news for you. Hormone imbalances don’t need to be your truth. There are natural ways that you can balance hormones. In this article, I’m diving into the three main categories of hormones, adrenals, thyroid, and sex, and teaching you how to support balanced levels.
You’ll learn about the common signs and symptoms of out-of-whack hormones and how to use food, herbs, and lifestyle to nourish levels for a happier and healthier life.
How to Balance Hormones Naturally
Our adrenal glands control our fight or flight mechanism—when we get worried or anxious, scared or fearful, our adrenals release stress hormones. While this is essential for survival, we are experiencing it too often and for things that aren’t life-threatening. If we constantly experience stress, our adrenals go into overdrive. But stress can look like many things, not just worrying about getting yelled at by your boss or ignored by a friend. Stress can also look like a lack of nutrition.
Nutrition is number one. Our bodies need proper nutrition to function optimally. When we are lacking in the nutrition department, our body goes into fight or flight mode, driving up inflammation and stress levels—throwing adrenal hormones out of whack.
Our adrenal glands are responsible for regulating and producing adrenal hormones like cortisol, adrenaline, DHEA, aldosterone, and norepinephrine. They manage stress, regulate blood pressure and blood sugar, and even produce sex hormones.
When we have healthy adrenal function, chances are we have balanced energy, mood, and libido.
Many modern-day problems can cause poor adrenal function. Think emotional stress, poor sleep, processed foods, excessive sugar, the inability to handle stress, and more. When your body experiences chronic stress, not only does it weigh heavily on your adrenals, but it also can cause a continuous loop of more profound chronic stress, physical fatigue, insomnia, and the inability to handle stress, and so on. In this case, the cause does sometimes equal the effect.
Like I said, proper nutrition is essential for proper hormone function. Foods high in Vitamin C can do wonders for replenishing the adrenals. B vitamins like B5 are great for fighting stress and fostering natural energy. Foods like bell peppers, kale, and berries are great for this.
Blood sugar imbalances can also have a significant impact on adrenal function. People who suffer from adrenal fatigue often suffer from high or low blood sugar. Keeping blood sugar stable with healthy fats from foods like avocados can help.
An essential mineral for adrenal function is magnesium. Unfortunately, most people are deficient in this anti-stress mineral due to industrial agriculture. Because our soil is depleted of magnesium, it’s crucial that we up our intake of magnesium-rich foods and supplements. Pumpkin seeds are a fabulous food to help us destress and relax. Our Hydration Superfood Energy powder contains a healthy dose of magnesium to help replenish and rejuvenate.
Lifestyle Tips for Balancing Stress Hormones
While stress hormones are necessary for survival, too much stress can cause many health problems. Try incorporating a daily stress-reducing practice to help handle daily stressors of modern life. This can look like a non-negotiable walk, a meditation practice, a nighttime stretch sesh, a bath, self-massage or alone time with a really good book.
Make sleep hygiene a priority. This means getting to bed before you hit the wired phase around 10pm or 11pm. Cutting back on coffee will also help! Try adding in adaptogens that specifically help with the stress response. Adaptogens like Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, and holy basil are all amazing for adrenal health, stress, and anxiety.
If you are concerned about adrenal fatigue or think you may have Addison’s disease, here are some tests you can look into getting:
- Salivary or serum cortisol (24 hours range)
- Adrenal Stress Index
Our sex hormones are in charge of regulating sexual development, reproduction, and motivation. As women, our sex hormones are constantly changing throughout our entire lives, while men really only have to deal with changes through puberty—although diet, lifestyle, and toxin exposure also play a huge role.
At every stage of a woman’s life (and monthly), she experiences a wide range of hormonal changes due to menstruation, pre-menstruation, pregnancy, post-pregnancy, perimenopause, and menopause. Understanding how our bodies work and how our hormones change can empower us to take charge to feel our absolute best during every stage of life.
When sex hormones are out of balance, you may experience issues with fertility, irregular cycles, migraines, brain fog, and more.
Our main sex hormones are estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. The precursor for estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and other hormones like cortisol is cholesterol. That means that getting enough healthy fats in our diet is essential for keeping sex hormone levels healthy. Not only is this necessary for increasing fertility and becoming pregnant, but it’s also just plain necessary for supporting mood, cognitive function, and energy levels.
Let’s start with nutrition. Foods that help balance sex hormones include foods that eliminate excess estrogens like flax seeds and lentils. Foods with vitamin-d, the hormone that helps produce sex hormones, is also a powerful food for estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Wild salmon is not only a great source of vitamin D, but it is also a great source of omega-3’s, which is also wonderful for eliminating excess estrogen and reducing our risk of certain hormone-related diseases.
Sweet potatoes are packed with vitamin B6, which helps to aid in liver detoxification. Vitamin E, found in sunflower seeds, helps to boost progesterone levels, which can be supportive for mood as well.
Lifestyle Tips for Balancing Sex Hormones
Suppose you are looking to increase fertility to foster pregnancy. In that case, it’s essential to understand that your ovaries need selenium, as well as melatonin, the hormone that tells our body we are ready for sleep. To support selenium levels, look to foods like brazil nuts, fish, eggs, and chicken.
As far as melatonin goes, blue light at night suppresses proper melatonin production. To combat this, consider getting blue light glasses for after the sun goes down or switching to old-fashioned candlelight post-sunset.
Excess estrogen is something that is plaguing most of us these days. We can thank industrial agriculture’s wide use of pesticides and herbicides for this, as well as the chemical industy’s hand in the cosmetics industry. You can reduce xenoestrogen exposure by switching from conventional cosmetic care to organic, non-toxic makeup, body care, etc. You can also reduce exposure by prioritizing organic food and minimizing plastic wherever possible.
If you are concerned about sex hormones, you can look into these tests:
- Estrogens level test via blood, urine, or saliva
- Estradiol test/ E2 test (this is a type of estrogen)
- Testosterone Test
- Progesterone Test
Our thyroid is responsible for making hormones (think T3, T4, TSH) for metabolism and energy. If you’re deficient in iron, your thyroid can’t produce the right amount of thyroid hormones that can lead to a thyroid issue. Keeping thyroid hormone production in check is necessary for consistent energy, weight management, a well-functioning metabolism, cheerful mood. An out-of-balance thyroid may look like anxiety, depression, fertility issues, fatigue, brain fog, constipation, sugar and carb cravings, and weight issues.
Some foods for thyroid hormone balance include seaweeds like dulse, arame, nori, and wakame. Seaweeds are a great source of iodine, a mineral that helps regulate thyroid hormones. Brazil nuts contain selenium, an antioxidant that protects the thyroid gland and helps convert thyroid hormones to active forms. Quinoa is also a great idea because it is a fabulous source of zinc, which also helps activate thyroid hormones and regulate TSH.
Lifestyle Tips for Balancing Thyroid Hormones
Keep blood sugar balanced by eating small, consistent, balanced meals throughout the day. Always add healthy fats and protein to your meals to keep blood sugar stable. Avoid any consumption of toxic foods like rancid oils, processed sweets, etc.
If you are concerned about hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, here are the tests to look into getting:
- Thyroid Antibodies Testing
- Reverse T3 Testing
- Thyroid Hormone Testing
- Thyroid Stimulating Hormone Testing
I hope this guide has served as a source of education and empowerment to lead you to a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling life. Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions. Tell me what you are most excited about incorporating into your life!
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