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Natural Ways to Balance Your Hormones

Natural Ways to Balance Your Hormones

Both women and men experience hormone imbalances. However, women tend to experience more of these issues based on developmental changes throughout the life cycle (i.e. puberty, pregnancy, menstruation, menopause). In both males and females, hormones help keep our bodies functioning properly. A number of hormones like adrenaline, oxytocin, serotonin, insulin, and others play vital roles in regulating our appetites, metabolism, heart rate, sleep, growth, mood, and more.

What Causes Hormone Imbalances?

Hormone imbalances can occur due to an abundance of issues. Some changes occur naturally, like during puberty when the female sex hormones become active and continually contribute to the maturity of the reproductive system, fertility, and even bone growth. During menstruation, women tend to experience symptoms related to hormone changes in our cycle. Later in life, women experience menopause where their hormones drastically change once again. These changes increase the rate of visceral fat storage, and foster a change in insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism, increasing a woman’s risk for developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) and type 2 diabetes.

Many women aren't aware of the implications consuming synthetic hormones, like hormonal birth control, can cause. This can decrease or completely stop production of important hormones like testosterone and progesterone, making them essentially inactive in our bodies. They can also alter metabolism, deplete B-complex vitamins, and change the gut microbiome. This can effect physical performance, mental stress, and nutritional needs.

Other causes of hormone imbalances can include a number of medical conditions like:

  • Type 2 Diabetes

  • Deficiencies or inadequate intakes of nutrients

  • Allergic reactions or infections

  • Hypo/Hyperthyroidism

Lifestyle and nutrition factors that can cause imbalances include:

  • Extreme or prolonged stress

  • Poor nutrition (includes under and over eating)

  • No/limited activity or exercise

  • Abuse of anabolic steroids 

  • Fasting for long durations – fasting for a days duration could lead to increased cortisol levels. Certain intermittent fasting methods, such as full day fasts, may not be ideal for balancing hormones especially in women.

Diet and Lifestyle

While supplements and herbal remedies have been used for years to try and help treat hormonal imbalances, there is no supplement that has been consistently proven to treat hormone imbalances. There are however certain diet and lifestyle changes you can adapt to help prevent and even correct imbalances.

These include:

  • Consuming Adequate Protein: Protein helps control your ‘hunger hormones.’ Protein helps decrease ghrelin and increase hormones like GLP-1 and PYY, keeping you feeling full and your hormones balanced. The amino acid, leucine may play a huge role in muscle protein synthesis. Chicken, eggs, lentils, nuts, and chickpeas are all good sources and can help to maintain lean muscle mass and balance hormones. Click here to learn more about plant and animal sources of leucine.

  • Staying Active: Regular physical activity is proven to lower insulin levels and increase insulin sensitivity, as well as reduce chronic disease risk. Dopamine, a “feel-good” hormone is also produced while working out and boosts mood. Exercise also helps to balance cortisol levels, a stress hormone, produced in the body.

  • Limit highly-processed foods: Ultra-processed foods (i.e. sugary snacks/beverages, refined carbohydrates) are linked to insulin resistance, higher levels of ghrelin (which increase hunger) and lower levels of PYY (which decrease satiety)

  • Stress Management: Prolonged stress can raise cortisol levels, which can effect metabolism, mood and libido. Participating in yoga, meditation or other stress relieving methods can help.

  • Consuming Essential Fatty Acids: Such as omega-3s are helpful in decreasing inflammation, GI distress, and are great for balancing hormones and reducing stress.

  • Probiotic-Rich Foods: I’ve done a previous video about gut health; probiotics and fermented foods are excellent for balancing hormones in your gut microbiome. Click here to learn more.

  • Quality Sleep: Poor sleep has been linked to issues with cortisol, insulin, leptin, ghrelin, and growth hormone levels. Quality, restorative sleep is SO important to our health, hormones and overall wellness.

  • Consuming Adequate Fiber: Fiber (a.k.a. prebiotics) help your hormones and gut stay on track. Fiber has binding capabilities and helps your body excrete unwanted substances from the body.

  • Prioritize Micronutrients: You can begin to correct hormone imbalances through consumption of B-complex vitamins, magnesium, zinc, Vitamin C and E. You can find a lot of these in whole grains, dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, berries and citrus fruits. Supplementation may be necessary if you aren't getting enough through your diet alone.

Angie Asche

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