Hormones. Does that word conjure up feelings of moodiness, concern about acne, sugar cravings, irritability, weight gain, the feeling of being at war with your body? If you feel sluggish and brain fogged, or your struggle with difficult PMS or weight loss, you could be dealing with unbalanced hormones. The good news is you can get started today and improve your hormone balance right away.
What Are Hormones?
Hormones are chemical messengers traveling around your body telling glands and organs how to do their jobs to regulate the processes in your body. Your brain tells your endocrine system when to release hormones to regulate your sex drive, fertility, menstrual cycle, weight, mood, and much more.
The endocrine system, a series of glands responsible for secreting hormones, is an amazing but delicate system, especially in women. It’s fascinating, really. Your brain communicates with your thyroid, adrenals and ovaries to trigger ovulation and menstruation all the while regulating your metabolism, mood, stress response, energy levels, weight, and sex drive.
Women these days are wearing many hats– they’re on top in their careers and are managing families and home life after 12 hour work days. This type of stress can cause your hormones to go haywire. Blame cortisol, your main stress hormone, which spikes during times of stress, and it stays elevated due to the chronic stressors modern life presents.
While cortisol is intrinsically not bad, chronically high cortisol can become problematic. Chronic stress can cause inflammation and affect your thyroid and female hormones, especially negatively impacting estrogen and progesterone. Low progesterone can cause menstrual irregularities, depression, breast tenderness, mood swings, insomnia, low sex drive, fatigue, and anxiety, to name a few symptoms. Low progesterone can also leave you estrogen dominant which
If you’re experiencing a worsening in PMS, hot flashes, changes in your cycle, difficulty with weight gain, or any of the above symptoms, listen up. Here are 4 tips to get you started balancing your hormones– and you can start right away. Better yet, you should feel improvement quickly!
4 Tips to Balance Your Hormones
Lay off the sugar & wine
Are you self medicating with a glass (or bottle) of wine every night to unwind? Or are your sugar cravings overpowering during the day? Sugar and booze are two of the biggest endocrine disruptors, and they contribute to the body’s stress load. Sugar causes inflammation and feeds bad bacteria in your gut (read: causes bloating, heartburn, constipation, diarrhea, candida), and wine stresses your detox system, which needs to be kept in good working order to metabolize your hormones and contribute to overall hormone balance. Kick both and feel better in a week. Your hormones will be happier too.
This supplement is a great choice to help combat cravings when weaning off booze and sugar (do not use if you take SSRIs). This supplement helps regulate blood sugar and control cravings, and it contains kudzu, which helps squash alcohol cravings. Click here for more about how to stop sugar from ruining your life. Check out this program for help kicking alcohol if you’d like to support to stop drinking.
Sleep is the cheapest and best Rx for stress. Sleep is the lifestyle factor we skimp on most, and poor sleep puts us at a greater risk of many health problems and diseases (source). We’re burning the candle at both ends, and our hormones are paying for our constant busy-ness. Lack of sleep causes high cortisol, weight gain, sugar cravings, hormone imbalance, and fatigue. Aim for 8 hours nightly. Don’t be afraid of a 20 minute nap on the weekends (or during the workday). Click here for my tips to get better zzzzs, and start tonight by creating an easy bedtime routine to wind down. Melatonin can be another good choice for sleep, if used correctly. Here is my post on it.
Support your liver
As I mentioned, your liver is in charge of metabolizing hormones and plays a crucial role in hormone balance. Your liver is your hardest working organ, so be kind to it. It has to filter everything you eat (including medications), drink, breathe, and apply to your skin. So ditch the diet sodas, sugar, booze, white flour, and chemical-laden processed foods. Swap them out for liver-loving cruciferous veggies, organic proteins and eggs, leafy greens, beets and carrots, and green veggie juices. Here is my list of top liver cleansing foods. Try this easy roasted broccoli or spicy cauliflower for dinner tonight.Start tomorrow morning with a mug of hot water, lemon, and turmeric. Need a jumpstart? Download my book for a 21 day program to cleanse your liver.
Fix your stressful relationships
This one may take some time, but toxic relationships really negatively impact your wellbeing. This could be a relationship with your boss, spouse, parent, or friend. You can start by asking yourself these questions: Are you trapped in an unhappy or unhealthy relationship? Be open and honest with yourself. Would seeking therapy help? Examine all the close relationships in your life and figure out how you can improve them. Don’t forget about your most important relationship– your relationship with yourself! Your emotional wellbeing is crucial to happiness and hormone balance. Finding a spiritual path can help– whatever speaks to you. I recommend meditation. Click here for a practice to keep you grounded and centered during the day.
Supplements for Hormone Balance
I often recommend herbal tinctures or supplements to help bring hormones back into balance. I like blends with adaptogenic herbs and vitex (chasteberry) or wild yam. I also recommend a full thyroid panel and saliva hormone testing to check your hormone levels, then I can design a program customized to you to balance them. This female support product is highly recommended.
Other hormone disruptors:
- processed soy, or too much soy in general. Soy is estrogenic.
- endocrine-disrupting chemicals from your cosmetics or environment, like BPA and plastics
- birth control pills (or other hormonal birth control)
- eating conventionally raised meat & fish that has been fed growth hormones or antibiotics
- yeast overgrowth
- bad bacteria or parasite infections in the digestive tract.
Click here for my 21-day holistic liver cleanse.
How I Completely Eliminated my PMS
Try Tulsi tea for stress relief and hormone balance.
My article on how to support yourself during times of stress.
GAIA adrenal support is awesome to maintain healthy cortisol during stressful periods.
My top tips for hormone balance
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Mary Vance is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and author specializing in digestive health. She combines a science-based approach with natural therapies to rebalance the body. In addition to her 1:1 coaching, she offers courses to help you heal your gut and improve your health. Mary lives in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe in Northern California. Read more about her coaching practice here and her background here.