Love ’em or leave ’em, our hormones are something we absolutely can’t live without. Our hormone levels impact everyday things such as our moods, desires and preferences. In fact, estrogen and progesterone levels can even have an effect on the type of people we’re attracted to and sway our voting preferences! Yep, these hormones are wildly powerful, and today we’re here to talk about why giving attention and respect to their very balance is imperative to feeling our absolute best, because the bottom line is that hormones are not the enemy, they are the solution.
In the words of Dr. Sara Gottfried, “When I think of hormones, I think about the hormonal jungle I once had to navigate…” Ring a bell? Sometimes it’s a literal roller coaster. What is going on? Well first let’s understand what our sex hormones do. Besides the obvious role of developing sex characteristics, estrogen also maintains collagen of skin, aids in creating neurotransmitters, balances cholesterol levels and much more…but it also stores fat (which we need), decreases thyroid function and if it’s out of whack, it can have other less desirable side effects. Progesterone opposes the effects of estrogen in our body, it stabilizes normal sleep patterns, has a calming effect on our brains, enhances our thyroid function, increases scalp hair growth, is a potent antidepressant and supports bone health. These days you hear a lot about something called estrogen dominance. The term estrogen dominance can be confusing because it does not relate solely to the amount of estrogen in the body, it’s actually the measurement of the ratio of estrogen to progesterone levels. Sometimes you can be eating well, exercising and yet you’re getting nowhere. That’s when you have to dig deep. Sometimes there’s a road block – and that can anything from hidden food sensitivities, mineral deficiencies, thyroid problems and of course, hormonal imbalance. Unfortunately we live in a time where the environment we live in, the food we eat and the stressful lives we lead can trigger what a completely imbalance where there was once a harmonious one. Symptoms of hormone imbalance/estrogen dominance:
- mood swings
- irregular periods
- increased facial hair
- hot flashes
- weight gain
- lack of concentration/memory loss
- sleep disturbance
- thinning hair
- heavy menstrual bleeding
What are the causes?
- environmental estrogenic substances:
- synthetic hormones
- hormones in animal products/food
- food additives
- birth control pill
- refined flours
- inflammatory foods like transfats
- chronic dieting
Key players involved?
- adrenal health
- thyroid health
- digestive health
- blood sugar regulation
So what to do?
Well, the first thing you must do is take a look at the food on your plate. We can’t make progress without addressing food first, your entire physiological system depends on it, including your hormones. Sugar, refined flours, excess and unhealthy carbohydrates, inflammatory foods…they all wreak havoc on your hormonal balance. Even simply changes like adding freshly ground flax seed to your morning oats, eating more omega-3 rich fish, consuming anti-inflammatory herbs like turmeric, ginger and rosemary, adding in some coconut oil and eating plenty of cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale and cauliflower can make a HUGE difference. Your job is to set a solid foundation so your hormones can do the work they were meant to do, so they can take a sigh of relief, and find some balance. Our job is to show you how to do that – and that’s exactly what we get up to in Prescribe 20.
- Be mindful of the canned foods you buy – avoid all cans that contain BPA (they are often labeled BPA free).
- Limit your use of plastic and never microwave your food in plastic.
- Sleep! If you aren’t getting enough sleep, your hormones will not be balanced. Period.
- Always opt for hormone free and organic animal products to avoid those hormones – they have an effect in your body!
- Limit caffeine – sorry, I know. But keep it to one cup a day, it really starts to cause a problem in excess.
- Steer clear of commercial cooking oils (such as canola) and get plenty of omega-3 fats in your diet (fish oil, flax, chia, etc.)
- Talk with your doctor about your preferred method of birth control and figure out what’s right for you.
- Get daily exercise and manage stress levels.
- If your hormone levels are in need of therapeutic support, consider working one on one to utilize hormone balancing herbs, supplements and potentially bio-identical hormones.
If you suspect you have a deep rooted imbalance and are experiencing multiple symptoms, work with a professional to do a proper evaluation of your hormone levels; you may need additional therapeutic support to gain hormonal balance and achieve your health and wellness goals. Never underestimate the power of knowledge: arm yourself with information! Hop on board for Prescribe 20, do some reading and check out Sara Gottfried’s book The Hormone Cure, and follow professionals like Christiane Northrup who talk about the power of food, health and hormones. You hold the key to finding your balance, and we want to help you get there.