Hormone imbalance is often considered a complicated problem to tackle due to the difficulty of diagnosing it and because it can be difficult to treat. Since hormones play an essential role in health and happiness, a slight imbalance can cause dramatic effects on weight, appearance, mood, fertility, energy, anxiety levels and more.
Each of your hormones has its own unique job, but each hormone depends on information communicated from other hormones in order to carry out its tasks. This means if one hormone is out of balance, this can affect the other hormones it communicates to. Each hormone depends on the communication and function of another hormone(s) in order to work properly.
As an example, let’s look at the thyroid hormone T3. T3 is produced by the thyroid gland to regulate the metabolism and convert food into energy. But for the thyroid to know exactly when it needs to produce T3, it must receive proper communication from the hypothalamus–a gland that receives feedback about various things your body does.
For instance, when your hypothalamus receives feedback that you’ve eaten a meal, it takes a look to see if there’s enough T3 in your bloodstream to metabolize it. If there isn’t, the hypothalamus initiates a complex biochemical reaction to ensure your thyroid produces more T3 by releasing the hormone TRH (thyrotropin-releasing hormone).
Once released, TRH signals to your pituitary gland to release the hormone TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone). TSH will then tell the thyroid to release more T3 and T4 into the bloodstream to metabolize the meal you just ate. Without this essential function, the food you eat won’t provide your body the fuel it needs, no matter what kind of food it is.
However, like other health problems, hormone imbalance can be reversed with simple healthy lifestyle changes. Many certified nutrition therapists and nutritional experts help us understand the symptoms of hormonal imbalance and ways to counter it.
Symptoms and causes of hormone imbalance
Some people experience hormone imbalance are during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy and post-partum, premenopausal and menopause. These periods can make up a sizeable portion of a person’s life, especially women.
The common hormone imbalance symptoms include:
- Premenstrual syndrome
- Acne or skin breakouts
- Urinary tract infections
- Temperature changes
- Anxiety and irritability
- Cravings for sweets
- Excess hair growth
Some specific problems associated with some of the most common hormonal imbalances include:
- Estrogen dominance: in changes in sleep patterns, changes in weight and appetite, higher perceived stress, slowed metabolism
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS): infertility, weight gain, higher risk for diabetes, acne, abnormal hair growth
- Low estrogen: low sex drive, reproductive problems, menstrual irregularity, changes in mood
- Hypothyroidism: slowed metabolism, weight gain, fatigue, anxiety, irritability, digestive issues, irregular periods
- Low testosterone: erectile dysfunction, muscle loss, weight gain, fatigue, mood-related problems
- Hyperthyroidism and Grave’s Disease: anxiety, thinning hair, weight loss, IBS, trouble sleeping, irregular heartbeats
- Diabetes: weight gain, nerve damage (neuropathy), higher risk for vision loss, fatigue, trouble breathing, dry mouth, skin problems
- Adrenal fatigue: fatigue, muscle aches and pains, anxiety and depression, trouble sleeping, brain fog, reproductive problems
Ways to Regulate Hormone Balance without Chemicals/Medication
1. Cut Out Vegetable Oils
The human body requires a balance of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats which it uses as building blocks to create healthy cells. Studies have proven that a little bit is okay, however, diets including an overabundance of polyunsaturated fats such as those found in vegetable, canola, peanut, and soybean oils, as well as margarine and shortening have the potential to cause a number of nasty health problems.
One of the most common problems that a diet excessive in these oils can cause is varying degrees of hormone imbalance. Polyunsaturated fats are molecularly unstable and more prone to oxidation than other dietary fats. In the absence of more appropriate stable fats, the human body is forced to use polyunsaturated fats to build and repair new cells. Such activity can lead to cell mutation, as the cells aren’t made from very stable molecules. This can lead to excessive free radical damage and hormone malfunction.
2. Avoid Toxins
Toxins found in plastics, household cleaners, and pesticides can interfere with healthy hormone function by mimicking the hormones your body needs to function properly.
Avoid cooking food in plastic containers and swap out plastic storage containers for glass jars. Plastic contains many hidden toxins that can enter the food they’re conserved in and ultimately your body.
Trade your Teflon coated pots and pans for cast iron or stainless steel. Teflon cutlery contains trace amounts of toxins which can enter your food while cooking.
Try to consume only organic fruits and vegetables. While a diet focusing exclusively on organic fruits and veggies may be hard to maintain, it’s undeniably healthier to focus on these foods more than diary and/or meat products.
Replace chemicals like ammonia and bleach with all-natural household cleaners.
Remove toxins from your tap water using reverse-osmosis or activated charcoal filter. Tap water contains several chemicals that can have serious adverse effects on your health.
3. Cut Out Caffeine
This may be difficult for many people since caffeine is addictive, but too much of it can aggravate an existing endocrine imbalance. If you aren’t willing to eliminate caffeine from your diet altogether, at least try to cut back. Substitute caffeine-free or low-caffeine herbal teas instead of coffee. They’re much more beneficial towards your health.
Avoid caffeinated sodas as they can cause more than just hormone problems with their excessive amounts of artificial sweeteners. Start slow if you currently drink a lot of coffee, black tea, or soda. Even one less caffeinated beverage per day can have a positive impact on hormone health.
4. Get Enough Sleep
Lack of sleep adds stress and hampers the ability of your endocrine system to regenerate and regulate healthy hormones, as well as aggravating several other health problems. There are many factors that may contribute to a person’s inability to rest. Improper diet, excessive stress/anxiety and lack of time being the biggest ones.
If you find catching quality shut-eye to be a struggle more often than not, try to cut down on caffeine, increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids (found in various food groups), try applying cannabis oil externally.
5. Balance Leptin
Leptin imbalance is another common problem that causes hormone disruptions, especially in over-weight individuals. Because this hormone is directly related to metabolism of stored fats, the single most obvious symptom of leptin imbalance is frequent cravings, also known as “the munchies.”
If you’re prone to nighttime snacking and powerful cravings (often for foods high in calories, carbohydrates, and fat) you may have developed a leptin resistance.
To begin the process of reversing leptin imbalance, start by avoiding sweet foods rich in high fructose corn syrup, simple carbs (white bread, white rice, white sugar) and high quantities of grains.
When you buy groceries, stay away from packaged foods. Instead, go for unprocessed produce and meats that are high protein and healthy fats like salmon, tuna, mackerel, grass-fed beef, olives, avocados, and eggs.
Last but not least, fight the urge to snack. Constant eating will only aggravate the problem and make it harder to resolve. Instead, try to eat small balanced meals timed about 4 hours apart. This will recondition your body to a healthy eating schedule.
6. Daily Dose of Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is a healthy saturated fat. Among the many benefits of virgin coconut oil is the ability to balance thyroid function by promoting the conversion of cholesterol into pregnenolone, one of the building blocks our bodies use to produce hormones.
Coconut oil also contains medium chain triglycerides (MCT), a special form of fat that helps our bodies maintain a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) by increasing metabolism and energy levels.
More energy means a stronger body and increased ability to perform day-to-day tasks, leaving more free time for fun activities, relaxation, and sleep, as well as providing more stamina for exercise. For the best tasting and nutrient-dense coconut oil, go for the cold-pressed or wet-milled virgin kind.
7. Consume Some Vitamin-D
Vitamin D is naturally produced by the photochemical reaction that occurs in our skin cells when they are exposed to sunlight, or more specifically to ultraviolet B rays in sunlight.
Vitamin D binds to a carrier protein present in the blood then travels through the circulatory system to various organs (brain, heart, reproductive organs, intestines, bones, kidneys, etc.) regulating essential functions such as DNA/RNA production, regulation of the immune and neuromuscular systems, and regulation of healthy hormone production.
Without sufficient vitamin D, our endocrine system is handicapped. As an important part of naturally balancing hormones, try to get out in the sun a little more often. Exercise outdoors when you can. This will provide the combined benefits of both Vitamin D and a little blood-pumping exercise.
Alternately, you could take vitamin D supplements. Just make sure to consult a health professional beforehand.
8. Eat More Omega-3 Fatty Acids
These fats act to create responsive and healthy cell membranes, allowing hormones to adhere to the cell more easily. Omega-3 fatty acids also aid the body in keeping the cellular receptor sites (where hormones bind) repaired and in optimal condition, as well as with a myriad of other health factors. Consider eating more foods with omega-3s or taking 500 mg of a high quality organic oil, such as hempseed, flaxseed or olive oil.
9. Maintain a Healthy Diet
This one should be a no-brainer. A healthy diet is one of the most efficient ways to balance out your hormone levels. Incorporate more fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, plus an abundance of raw nuts and seeds into your diet. As was previously mentioned, unhealthy foods such as processed carbohydrates, fried foods, soft drinks, enriched flour, processed vegetable oil and soy products may alter hormone balance.
Avoid non-organic dairy products which may contain harmful bovine growth hormones, steroids and antibiotics. These can wreak havoc.
10. Keep Stress Levels Low
Studies show that individuals who participate in a daily meditation or yoga experience less hormonal swings than those who do not mediate stress in some fashion. Yoga and meditation are one of the most effective ways to regulate stress and learn how to counter it when experiencing stressful situations through mindfulness techniques.
Rest is also important. Many people have such hectic lifestyles that they give themselves little time to re-adjust from life’s demands. This disrupts the natural hormones cycles. Find small ways to incorporate rest and relax throughout the day.
Your hormones are involved in every aspect of your health. You need them in very specific amounts for your body to function optimally. Since many common food/lifestyle habits can counterbalance your hormones, it can be quite difficult to consistently regulate them and keep your health at optimal levels.
Repairing a hormone imbalance takes time. Take things one step at a time and don’t pressure yourself into stress. Write out a plan and keep notes on your progress.
Consuming nutritious foods, exercising on a regular basis, and engaging in other healthy behaviors can go a long way toward improving your hormonal health. Follow the aforementioned tips in order to improve your hormone balance and overall health.
Your health will significantly improve for the better.Share!