Hormonal imbalances are one of the main disruptive causes of physical and emotional wellbeing.
Your hormones are like "chemical messengers" of the endocrine system that are carried via the blood to your various organs and tissues. Here, they then regulate key body functions such as:
- growth and development
- reproduction and sexual function
- heart rate and blood pressure
- sleeping and wake cycles
- body temperature.
The glands of the endocrine system are where hormones are produced, stored, and released in order to regulate these important functions. But when these glands are disrupted, due to stress or environmental factors, it can have a big impact on your overall health and wellbeing.
The primary glands and their respective functions include:
- Adrenals - which produce Adrenaline to regulate your metabolism. Cortisol which controls the stress response and Aldosterone, which controls salt and water balance;
- Pituitary - responsible for producing reproductive hormones that control egg and sperm production and lactation;
- Pancreas - which produces glucagon, helping to increase blood glucose energy and insulin which reduces blood glucose energy;
- Pineal - this gland controls the production of melatonin, which regulates your sleep/wake cycle;
- Thyroid - which produces the metabolic hormones of Triiodothyronine (T3) and Thyroxine (T4) which control the rate of metabolism and energy.
Here, we share the common signs of hormonal imbalances, the main causes, and what you can do naturally, to help bring your body back into balance.
Signs or Hormonal Imbalances
Hormones play an extremely important part in your overall health.
Unfortunately, your hormones are easily affected by various internal and external factors that can fall out of balance over time. These imbalances lead to your body not functioning as it should, which can produce a whole host of health concerns and challenges.
Hormonal imbalances can be caused by your diet, medical interference, prolonged stress, exposure to toxins in your environment, genetics and biological changes to your body over time.
Another leading cause of hormonal imbalance is a high level of inflammation in the body, usually caused by poor gut health.
The signs of hormonal imbalances are varied, but generally include such signs as:
- Unexpected, inexplicable weight gain or weight loss;
- Lengthy periods of fatigue;
- Hair thinning and/or hair loss;
- Ongoing depression and anxiety;
- Infertility and/or irregular periods;
- Lack of sex drive.
The health care industry is flooded with conventional treatments for hormonal balances and magic pills that promise the earth but deliver little.
Unfortunately, the consumption of any kind of synthetic medication can lead to a lifelong affliction and may do little to take care of the underlying causes of hormonal imbalances that so desperately need to be corrected.
Common, base-level causes of hormonal imbalances include:
- A heavy processed food diet
- Excess stress
- Emotional trauma
- A lack of movement and exercise
- Chemical cosmetics & personal care products
- Puberty & Menopause.
Tips For Restoring Natural Hormone Balance
1. Focus Your Diet Towards Whole Food
Hormonal imbalances can be exacerbated when you eat foods that are processed, refined or animal products that are industrially raised or grown using harmful chemicals and hormones.
On the other hand, a whole food diet, means one that is rich in foods sourced as close to nature as possible and in an unrefined state.
This means it is very important to shop for foods locally and seasonally as much as possible and to avoid big supermarkets that have long supply chains from farm to table.
It's far better to source your produce from your local farmer's markets wherever possible and to look for spray-free and organic where available.
The other wonderful thing about shopping at farmer's markets is the impact that it has on your senses - the smell, the colour and the vibe you experience in this environment is far more positive and uplifting, than you feel when you shop for produce in an air conditioned, indoor supermarket that is surrounded by plastic and sterile chemicals.
A whole food diet doesn't necessarily mean you need to be vegan or vegetarian, but it does mean you should heavily emphasise your diet towards locally grown, seasonal fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
Particularly whole foods that are known to specifically support hormonal restoration and balance, include leafy greens and root vegetables, so be sure to include these regularly in your diet.
2. Load up on Healthy Fats
Healthy fats are "good" fats that satiate you, lower insulin resistance and protect vital parts of your anatomy.
Hormones are formed from fat and cholesterol. So, without certain fats in the diet, hormone production suffers.
Fats also help with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K. This is why nutrient deficiencies and not getting enough good fats in the diet, can certainly be a primary cause of hormonal imbalance.
Healthy fats also support the heart and blood. They protect the nerves and they are anti-inflammatory, which of course, is good for all round optimum body function.
In addition, the body is not able to produce certain sex hormones like progesterone, estrogen and testosterone without cholesterol.
However, the key is to ensure that you're getting a healthy source of good cholesterol (HDL) from good fats, rather than from "damaged" fats like trans fats that are found in hydrogenated industrial seed oils like safflower, corn and canola.
Some of the best sources of healthy fats for restoring hormonal balance include:
- Omega 3's - these help to support and promote hormone synthesis, as well as to fight inflammation as well. Great sources include; Flax Seeds, Flax Seed Oil, Chia Seeds and Walnuts. The best animal sources include cold water wild caught, fatty fish like Salmon and Sardines (definitely avoid farmed varieties). Another great source of Omega 3's are whole organic, free-range eggs;
- Avocados - rich in monounsaturated fats, avocados are super versatile and can easily be enjoyed in a variety of ways, on their own with a squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of sea salt, on wholegrain toast, as a homemade guacamole, or added to a green smoothie for extra creaminess;
- Coconut Oil - is a potent anti-inflammatory food that also supports weight loss and even hormone production. Spoon into raw homemade desserts, add to your daily smoothie, or use for baking and frying due to it's extremely high heat point, meaning it won't go rancid as is the case with vegetable cooking oils;
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil - another mono-unsaturated, cold-pressed, plant oil, olive oil promotes the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Use for salad dressings, as a drizzle over raw and steamed vegetables, or for dipping fresh, wholegrain bread;
- Walnuts - a quick and easy snack, walnuts are super rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are very important for hormone production. Crumble them over salads, oatmeal, raw yogurts, or dip them into raw honey as a delightful, easy mid morning snack.
3. Probiotics and Prebiotics
Probiotics and prebiotics are vital to ensure a health gut microbiome, and in turn, healthy hormonal balance.
A healthy gut is crucial for balanced hormones, because of the impact that gut health has on so many key functions of the body, such as energy production, digestion, skin health, stress management and sleep.
Also, a healthy gut helps to avoid and reduce inflammation in the body, which leads to toxicity and disease.
Probiotics are the foods that help cultivate healthy bacteria in the gut. they are sourced from a variety of fermented foods, such as, sauerkraut, kimchi, organic yogurt, soft cheeses, kefir, olives, pickles and kumbucha.
Prebiotics "feed" the healthy bacteria in the gut to ensure that they remain robust and strong and are able to ward off the bad bacteria. Prebiotics are most commonly found in vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli and leafy greens.
4. Release Pent-up Emotions
Although many general practitioners resist the link between body and mind, there is a clear pathway between the emotional and physical.
How you feel affects how healthy you are. And this connection has a big bearing on your hormonal balance over time.
Some experts believe that emotions like fear and anxiety are a cause of disease in the kidneys, reproductive organs and adrenals, elevating cortisol levels to concerning highs.
Over time this can cause infertility, a lack of libido, chronic fatigue, weight gain and irritability.
Similarly, feelings of frustration or impatience, or not being able to forgive, can contribute to disease in the liver, which can lead to an estrogen imbalance.
Emotions such as anxiety can impact your insulin levels, setting you up for fatigue and weight gain.
If you are suffering from hormonal imbalance, or even if you are just seeking peace of mind, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to address any major emotional imbalances in your life.
You can start this with a purposeful reduction in your stress levels, taking more time for your own self care. This means letting go of traumas or past experiences that may be weighing you down and preventing you from moving forward freely.
Remember also, it is very important to practice gratitude regularly.
Being grateful is the antidote to so many negative emotions which can impact how you feel and your approach to life over time.
Simple practices that can help to ground you, boost your level of gratitude and restore emotional balance, include:
- 5-10 minutes of morning meditation per day
- Regular deep breathing
- Earthing - outdoor bare foot walks on the sand or grass
- Hiking or biking in nature
- Body surfing
- Yoga and Tai Chi.
Traditional therapies like acupuncture, remedial massage and chiropractic, can also be very beneficial to help you realign, combat stress and rebalance your hormones naturally.
5. Reduce Your Toxic Load With Essential Oils
To balance your hormones naturally, it’s so important to eliminate toxins, not only in your body, but also those that you place ON your body.
This means getting rid of conventional personal care products and cosmetics that are laden with harmful and disruptive chemicals.
Instead, replace these with tox-free and earth-friendly alternatives that you'll find at good health food stores and embrace pure Essential Oils.
Some of the best essential oils to incorporate into your self care routine to help rebalance hormones, include:
- Clary Sage: this beautiful, earthy oil helps to balance estrogen levels due to its high concentration of phytoestrogens. It can help relieve PMS symptoms, reduce the chances of uterine and ovarian diseases, and even soothe depression and anxiety. Diffuse 3-5 drops next to your bed while you sleep or relax, or in your work space. Also, you can massage 5 drops of clary sage on your abdomen morning and night to help relieve cramping.
- Fennel: this gorgeous oil is used to help relax your body, improve your digestion and your overall gut health. It can also boost your metabolism and reduce many kinds of inflammation. For application, rub 2 drops of fennel into your stomach or drink 1-2 drops added to a glass of warm water.
- Lavender: Known for its restorative and relaxation properties, Lavender oil is very effective for supporting emotional balance. This wonderful oil can be used to treat anxiety, depression, stress and to promote restful sleep, which of course, is crucial for healthy hormonal balance. Diffuse this oil, or rub 3 drops into your wrist and temple to feel its soothing and calming effects.
- Peppermint: This fresh, minty, multi-purpose oil is a versatile favourite that you can use to pep you up, boost your mental focus or to help reduce hot flushes. Peppermint can be diffused or rubbed between your palms and cupped over your nose for deep inhalation, to clear your airways, reduce tension and activate the mind.
To learn more about our recommended range of pure essential oils go here.
6. Beware of Medications and Birth Control Pills
Some medications can be extremely disruptive to hormone balances, especially if you become dependent on them or when combined with taking birth control pills.
It is so important to be very conscious of any kind of synthetic substance that you put into your body because it is the main cause of perpetual health problems due to side-effects, which ultimately will keep you on medication over the long term.
Before taking any kind of foreign drug, satisfy yourself by doing your own research and/or obtain a second opinion, before choosing to take it, particularly as an ongoing measure.
Remember, there are natural alternatives available to help you heal - the key is to be self responsible and to trust in your body's inbuilt ability to heal itself when you support it.
7. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle when it comes to recalibrating your body, mind and hormonal balance.
Without enough quality, regular sleep, you will wear yourself out and cause hormonal disruption. Sleep allows your body to recover, reset and to maintain its natural state of equilibrium.
Your body's natural sleep/wake cycle, also known as the circadian rhythm, is optimised when you get 8 hours of quality sleep each night.
The secret to this, is having a quality pre-bedtime routine that allows your body to unwind and drift into a peaceful, restful sleep with minimal disruption.
Interestingly, ancient cultures considered sleep as "the greatest gift" - to be received as a result of regularly embracing the 7 principles of health.
Remember, these foundational principles are the basis for strong, ongoing health and the avoidance of dis-ease. Once again, these seven principles are: Air, Water, Sunshine, Walking, Wholefoods, Non-Toxic Relationships and Passion.
For key tips on getting a better night's sleep, read our blog: 7 Tips For A Better Night's Sleep
The Main Take Away
Hormonal Balance is a function of your endocrine system, which comprises a network of "glands" that help to regulate important bodily functions that support optimum health.
If you suffer from fatigue, irritability, chronic anxiety, stress or weight gain, it's generally a sign that your hormones are out of whack and need recalibration.
Start by cleaning up your diet, reducing stress and taking stock of everything that you're placing in and on your body.
Next, use some of the basic suggestions offered here to help you rebalance, such as regularly connecting with nature, meditation and practicing gratitude.
Most of all, remember that any signs of imbalance are usually an indication that you need to return to the principles of health and to be more conscious of your daily habits that drive your long term physical and emotional wellbeing.
Tolman Self Care.