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If you have ever suffered from hormonal imbalance, then you know first-hand how it can wreak havoc on your body and your entire life. I’ve definitely been there. With inspiration from above and a lot of determination, I have been able to come out the other end and restore balance. And with a little knowledge and a willingness to change, I know you can heal hormonal imbalance in your own life too!
What Are Hormones?
Hormones are chemical messengers secreted directly into the bloodstream. They assist the body in hundreds of its necessary functions. Some of these include:
- Heart rate
- Sexual function
- Mood and emotions
- Stress responses
- Body temperature
- Tissue growth
According to a survey of American women aged 30 to 60, close to half claim that hormonal imbalance has negatively affected their lives. Because a woman’s reproductive system is a bit more complicated than a man’s, women tend to have more hormonal-related issues throughout their lifetimes. However, that doesn’t mean that men can’t be affected by hormones gone awry. For example, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control state that one in nine men are at risk of prostate cancer. This kind of cancer can be caused by an uptick in highly aggressive estrogen in addition to lower amounts of both progesterone and testosterone.
7 Hormones You Should Get to Know
Let’s get right into it and talk a little about just a few of the hormones that affect you most:
1 | Cortisol
Cortisol is a necessary and important chemical for the body in moderate amounts. It is especially important during a crisis because it sends signals to help the body perform its best during a “fight or flight” response. Too much production, however, can lead to chronic disease as well as higher inflammation levels overall.
2 | Melatonin
Melatonin assists with sleep cycles, i.e., the circadian rhythm. It is also a powerful cancer fighter and antioxidant. Having just the right amount of melatonin in our system also helps our bodies produce the right amounts of another important chemical as well, the neurotransmitter serotonin.
Low melatonin levels can cause low immune function and metabolic imbalance, which in turn can lead to weight gain and diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, and a higher risk for many kinds of cancer.
3 | Estrogen
Estrogen is actually a group of hormones that exist in both men and women. Estradiol (E2) is the most aggressive. Estrone (E1) and Estriol (E3) are mild forms of the hormone. Estetrol (E4) is produced by a woman during pregnancy.
Naturally produced estrogens play vital roles for reproductive function in women, and in men to a lesser degree. In women, they are mostly produced in the ovaries and help with the development of breasts as well as underarm and pubic hair. They are also key for menstrual cycle regulation. For men, smaller amounts of estrogen are produced by the testes and adrenals and are key in modulating libido. In all people, estrogens are vital for brain function, bone development, healthy hair and skin, mucous membrane production, and pelvic muscle health.
4 | Progesterone
Progesterone is another important reproductive system hormone for women. Just like estrogen, men need a small amount too. In pregnant women, progesterone is important for a developing fetus. Like estrogen, it also helps regulate menstruation and breast development. For men, progesterone is the main catalyst for the production of usable testosterone. Studies have also indicated that progesterone may also be cancer preventative for both sexes because of its link to apoptosis.
5 | Testosterone
Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone. According to the National Institutes of Health, testosterone in men is “thought to regulate sex drive (libido), bone mass, fat distribution, muscle mass and strength, and the production of red blood cells and sperm.” Some testosterone is also converted to aggressive forms of natural estrogen in men. Women need a smaller amount of testosterone for energy, mood moderation, and muscle and bone health.
6 | Thyroid Hormones
Thyroid hormones triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) are released by the thyroid gland. These hormones are primarily responsible for metabolic regulation. They rely on a solid supply of usable iodine as “fuel.” Evidence-based research now suggests that most people who have dysregulation of thyroid hormones actually suffer from the autoimmune condition Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. In the United States, there are approximately 14 million individuals who have been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s.
7 | Insulin
Insulin is produced by the pancreas and allows for the conversion of glucose sugar in food to energy for the body to use or store. High blood sugar is known as hyperglycemia. When sugar levels are too low in the blood, this is called hypoglycemia. Diabetes occurs when insulin production and regulation become ineffective. A shocking study conducted in 2015 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control found that close to 10% of the American population now suffer from lifestyle-related Type 2 Diabetes.
How to Balance Hormones Naturally
Hormonal imbalance is often something that can creep up on us. Before we know it, we are moody, tired, fatigued, listless, anxious, depressed, bloated, in pain, foggy-headed, crampy, have gained weight, have acne or insomnia, or worse, are diagnosed with a condition. What’s more, we may have no idea how we got that way!
The really good news is that there are concrete ways you can put your hormones back together again naturally. The more you change your habits to support your hormones, the more you help your body heal and thrive in every way.
Stay Away From Xenoestrogens
Xenoestrogens are the toxic substances you need to avoid the most for your hormonal health. Once in the body, xenoestrogens mimic the most aggressive form of estrogen, estradiol. This prevents milder forms of estrogen from binding to cellular receptor sites and doing their work of healing and balancing the body.
Exposure to xenoestrogens is a significant contributor to breast cancer risk, according to research at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. It can also be a contributing factor for ovarian and uterine cancer in women and prostate cancer in men. Xenoestrogens can interfere with estrogen methylation, affect cellular function, change brain chemistry, and cause imbalances in cortisol levels.
If you are a woman who has endometriosis, PVOS, fibroid tumors, PMS, and painful periods, you may have a heavy xenoestrogenic load. Exposure to xenoestrogenic chemicals can lead to lower testosterone levels, erectile dysfunction, and higher risk for prostate cancer in men.
To reduce your exposure to xenoestrogens, be sure to avoid the following products that are common sources of them:
- Plastic water bottles and canned foods, which may contain the preservative BPA
- Commercial sundry products; especially sunscreens that contain 4-MBC
- Commercial, non-organic fruits and vegetables that may have glyphosate residue (Glyphosate is a pesticide and known endocrine disruptor)
- Tap water, which can contain hormone-disruptive oral contraceptive residue amongst other toxins
- Commercial laundry detergent and cleaning products
- Commercial meats and dairy
Another set of toxins that must be avoided for hormonal health are halides. These include chlorine (chloride), fluoride, bromide, and perchlorate, a bromide derivative. Too many of these kinds of halides in the body can literally “starve” endocrine and reproductive glands of iodine. In both men and women, the thyroid, hypothalamus, pituitary, blood, and muscles are just some areas that require this essential mineral. The breasts and ovaries of women also rely on large amounts of iodine.
Again, the best way to reduce your toxic exposure to halides is to avoid them. Here are a few sources you may encounter in your daily life:
- Tap water (fluoride and chlorine)
- Swimming pools and hot tubs (chlorine and bromide)
- New carpet, new paint, and new car interiors (bromide)
- Commercial bread, pastries, and processed foods (bromide)
- Commercial “iodized” salt (chlorine)
- Commercial toothpaste (fluoride)
Avoid Foods That Throw Off Hormones
Some foods can be medicine, while others can be poison to your hormonal health.
Trans fats are one source of hormone imbalance found in processed foods. Too much refined sugar, as well as simple carbohydrates (like those found in commercial pasta, bread, and pastries), can lead to impairment insulin production and regulation. Coffee can be a solid source of antioxidants. However, too much caffeine can throw off sleep cycles, which can interfere with melatonin production.
Alcohol is another substance that is best to limit if you are concerned about hormonal health. In order to balance hormones and prevent cancer as well, experts recommend limiting alcoholic drinks to just a few per week. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “low-risk drinking” for women is defined as no more than 7 drinks per week, or one a day. For men, it is defined as no more than 14 drinks per week, or two a day. Other experts recommend much less, especially for those who are healing from disease. Research also suggests that drinking beer may cause spikes in aggressive estrogen levels, since amongst the phytonutrients in hops are certain aggressive-estrogen promoting factors.
Finally, hydrating with clean sources of water is an excellent way to keep your hormones balanced, your body on a solid detoxification cycle and your gut microbiome balance healthy. However, be sure to stay away from tap water. Believe it or not, municipal water sources that have been tested and labeled “safe to drink” may contain contraceptive residue as well as chlorine and fluoride.
Consume Clean, Hormone-Balancing Foods
What you put in your body will either help or hinder hormonal balance. Consuming moderate amounts of organic, hormone-free, and pasture-raised meats (and dairy if you are not intolerant), as well as wild-caught fish like salmon, can be great sources of omega-3 fatty acids, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). And many vitamins and minerals such as selenium, B-6, vitamin E, calcium, and magnesium are all vital for hormonal health. For example, low levels of tryptophan and magnesium can lead to low melatonin levels. Clean, organic animal-based proteins such as beef and eggs are natural sources of these hormonal precursors.
The key is to eat as clean as possible when it comes to meat and dairy. Commercial beef and poultry can be chock-full of hormonal additives. Commercial meats and farm-raised fish may contain GMO and antibiotic residues.
Healthy sources of fat are vitally important for brain health, and they can also help flush out toxins and regulate hormone balance. The best strategy is to consume a diversity of short, medium, and long-chain fatty acids. Good sources include organic butter or ghee from pasture-raised cattle, oils such as avocado, coconut and olive, and fresh organic meats, fish, dairy, eggs, nuts, and seeds.
Olive oil is a solid source of monounsaturated fat that has been shown by many studies to create healthy cell membranes. The healthier your cells are, the easier it will be for hormones to communicate with each other.
Coconut oil is another heavy hitter when it comes to hormonal health. It contains lauric acid as well as medium-chain fatty acids, both of which have been proven to balance hormones. A study conducted in the late 1990s found that consuming more than half of their calories from coconut fat helped raise levels of heart-healthy HDL in Polynesian participants. Higher HDL can have positive effects on naturally occurring estrogen balance, especially in older women. In a 2008 report published in the journal Nutrition, coconut oil also helped reduce oxidative stress and raise testosterone levels in men.
And don’t forget about flaxseed! The reasons to consume flax for hormone health are many. First of all, flaxseeds are super high in magnesium, a good source of Omega 3 fatty acids, are cancer-protective and are healing for the gut. More than anything, they help to metabolize estrogen. An amazing University of Toronto study found that women with breast cancer who ate 5 teaspoons of ground flax (in the form of a flaxseed muffin a day) had a 30-71% reduction in tumor size after a little over one month.
Finally, there are organic, non-GMO fruits and vegetables. Certain veggies, in particular, can help with hormonal health. For example, experts have found that raw carrots assist in the processing of estrogen from the intestine and can help the liver better regulate metabolism. Spirulina detoxifies Metalloestrogens. Matcha green tea is a super-concentrated source of antioxidants, L-Theanine, chlorophyll, essential vitamins and minerals, cancer-fighting epigallocatechin gallate (ECGC) and xenoestrogen-busting polyphenols.
Be sure to stick with clean eating when it comes to your produce. Consuming commercial vegetables and fruits exposes you not only to GMO “Frankenfoods,” but also to glyphosate pesticide residue. A 2009 French study analyzed four different kinds of glyphosate compounds and found them all to be endocrine disruptive.
What About Cruciferous Vegetables?
A big question that many with thyroid imbalance have concerns vegetables labeled as “goitrogens.” Some studies in the past have found these to be thyroid suppressive. As a result, for decades now, professionals have been recommending that those with thyroid suppression stay away from any food containing goitrogens. This is unfortunate since these include some of the most nutrient-dense vegetables and fruits out there, such as strawberries, sweet potatoes, turnips, pears, flaxseeds, radish, pine nuts, and a category of veggies known as cruciferous vegetables.
Cruciferous vegetables truly are some of the healthiest foods on the planet. Vegetables that are included in this category are broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, collard greens, and mustard greens. These foods also contain sulforaphane, which has been proven to help with detoxification pathways in the body and can be highly cancer-preventative.
Fortunately, several recent research studies have reversed past conclusions about goitrogens and thyroid health. For example, a 2018 Polish study found that rats who ate a diet of freeze-dried rutabaga sprouts did not have any changes in recognized thyroid hormone-signaling mechanisms. On the contrary, the researchers were surprised to find that this diet had a healing effect on the damage created by typical Hashimoto’s mechanisms.
What Else Can I Do to Balance My Hormones?
While dietary changes and avoiding major toxins are, in my opinion, the two most important actions you can take to balance hormones naturally, there are so many other things that you can as well to help your hormones as well. Getting plenty of exercise and quality sleep, lowering stress and staying away from EMF pollution are just some of the other actions you can take right now.
In addition, don’t discount key supplements, especially if you think that you may be deficient. Always consult with your health care practitioner and get the proper tests before you begin. Some supplemental substances you may consider include:
- Vitamin D/K
- B vitamins
What About Bioidentical Hormone Replacement?
Synthetic hormone replacement is chock-full of dangerous side effects and comes with a higher risk for reproductive system cancer. Bioidentical hormone replacement, however, naturally mimics the body’s natural hormonal production and is highly effective with no known side effects. The Fournier Study lasted over a decade and included over 80,000 women on bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. Researchers in the French study, which ended in 2008, found no evidence of increased breast cancer risk when BHRT was used in conjunction with natural progesterone application.
You CAN Balance Your Hormones Naturally!
I hope this report has convinced you that you are not alone if you suffer from hormonal imbalance. And I hope that it has also convinced you that you really do have MANY options available to you if you want to regain balance, energy, and vitality in your life again naturally.
Take the time to take care of your hormones, and they, in turn, will take care of you for a lifetime!
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