06 Dec How to keep your hormones happy
Our hormones are chemical messengers that are vital for the functioning of every system in the body, and while our body is always working to keep us well, our modern diet and lifestyle is not always supportive of hormone balance which can lead to the rise of conditions such as endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, thyroid dysfunction and infertility to name a few! But don’t despair – there is so much that can be done to support healthy hormones in both men and women!
Eat a wholefoods diet
It sounds too simple to be true, but eating a healthy diet rich in fresh, whole foods is one of the most supportive things you can do for your hormones. Focus on an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables (particularly the leafy green variety which aid in the clearance of excess hormones), as well as quality protein – which can be found in meat, chicken, fish, eggs, dairy (if tolerated), nuts and seeds, tofu and legumes etc. Consume organic animal products where possible, and aim to have some protein with each meal and snack to keep your blood sugars (and therefore insulin) stable. Minimise the consumption of sugar, alcohol and processed foods – these things can deplete us of many nutrients – including B vitamins and magnesium, which are required for the production of many of our hormones.
Relax and unwind
We live in such a fast paced and full on world – many people work long hours, have family commitments, social commitments, exercise at a high level or are constantly stimulated by media and information. While all of these things can be amazing and exciting, not taking the time to relax and unwind can seriously throw out our hormone balance. Cortisol, our key stress hormone, is incredibly important in the short term, but the reality of our modern life is that we are exposed to it LONG term and in large amounts. Excess cortisol can lead to things such as weight gain (particularly around the middle), low immune function, mood disturbances, inflammation, as well as menstrual irregularities in women. More and more research is pointing towards STRESS (whether consciously perceived or not) being a driver behind many chronic health conditions. But you don’t have to sit on a rock and meditate to relax – find something that works for you! Read a book, take a bath, go for a walk or have a good laugh with a loved one. Aim to do something each day that gives you a moment of stillness and joy.
Minimise toxic exposure
While our bodies are incredibly capable and able to detoxify, there is much we can do to reduce this burden – particularly if we are already suffering from hormonal imbalances. One key change that you can implement is assessing your cosmetics and body products. Research has found that many chemicals contained in commercial body products are endocrine disruptors – meaning that they can mimic or block the action of our own hormones. However there are so many natural alternatives available today – websites such as Nourished Life have an incredible selection, as do most health food stores. Also, reduce the use of plastic food containers and water bottles, as these have been shown to leach xenoestrogens which can further imbalance our hormones. Opt for glass or stainless steel – particularly for reheating food.
Specific herbs and supplements
There is so much that can be done through herbal medicine and nutritional supplementation to support your hormone balance. Focusing on liver support, and ensuring appropriate elimination is key, as well as including more specific remedies tailored to your individual needs. Don’t forget herbal teas too! Spearmint tea is great for PCOS, whereas licorice is amazing when there has been a period of prolonged stress. Dandelion root tea is fantastic for liver support, and good old green tea offers antioxidants as well as helping to reduce excess oestrogen.
Ultimately, there is no one size fits all approach, but by giving your body the building blocks it needs, supporting channels of elimination, and minimising barriers to appropriate hormone production and clearance you will be well on your way to happier and healthier hormones!
Wishing you all the best until next time,