Our National Training Manager Sonja Hindley shares her tips for how to balance your hormones naturally through lifestyle, dietary and medicinal interventions
Whether we suffer from PMS, perimenopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats, or prostate and erectile dysfunction, our usual inclination is to zoom in on specific symptoms or single hormones such as estrogen or testosterone.
It is important to remember that our hormones do not exist in a vacuum. Due to the interrelationships between hormones, it is crucial to treat multiple symptoms, glands and systems at the same time. This way, you get better and faster results, especially in conditions related to thyroid, adrenal and sex hormones.
We achieve this by always starting with nutrition and lifestyle adjustments, as these lead to large-scale changes and address the entire endocrine system at once. If further support is needed, we consider plant medicines, which are wonderful allies in bringing us back to wholeness.
Our approach should always be holistic - consciously and mindfully working with the wisdom of the body is key.
Most importantly, we should focus on two areas to bring about hormonal harmony: managing stress and balancing blood sugar.
Unrelenting stress tends to raise free radicals in the body, which may cause mutations and damage to DNA, and deplete micronutrients including vitamins B1, B5, B6, B12, C, magnesium and tyrosine, not to mention the havoc that cortisol wreaks on our hormones. Stress raises cortisol, DHEA and testosterone, and lowers thyroid hormones, estrogen, progesterone, growth hormone and melatonin. With all this going on, it’s little wonder our hormones feel out of sorts! Take care to replenish your levels of vitamin C and B, which are depleted under stress.
Consider incorporating breathing techniques, meditation, MBSR (mindfulness-based stress reduction), yoga or energy techniques such as the Daily Energy Routine and the Adrenal and Cortisol Massage by the wonderful Prune Harris on YouTube. These techniques are all proven to help switch our fight, flight or freeze response to a more balanced rest and digest state.
Try to get seven-and-a-half to eight hours of sleep per night. Sleep disturbances are a direct result of chronic stress and not being in sync with your primal circadian rhythm. Consider taking ashwagandha for three to six months, which will supply calm energy and gently restore the sleep wake cycle while you work on establishing your breathwork and mindfulness routines. Our Wellness Adaptogen complex combines ashwagandha, rhodiola rosea, schisandra and reishi mushrooms for potent nervous system and immune support.
Move your body but don’t over-exercise, which could trigger the stress response (running can be a culprit here). Rather try restorative exercise such as yoga or qigong.
Balance Blood Sugar
Insulin resistance may lead to serious health problems including excess weight, obesity, prediabetes, diabetes, dementia, Alzheimer’s, stroke and some cancers. Insulin is also a fat storage hormone, which directs fats to be deposited - notably at the waist. It increases hunger and carbohydrate cravings, and raises blood markers of inflammation, which initiate a perpetual cycle of inflammation in the body.
High insulin has a dramatic effect on hormones. It drives the ovaries to make more testosterone by enhancing the activity of 12/21 lyase, an enzyme that increases androgen levels. It also raises the activity of aromatase, the enzyme chiefly responsible for estrogen production, which sets the stage for estrogen dominance and infrequent ovulation. Aromatase will also convert testosterone to estradiol in fat cells. The more fat you have, the more likely it is that you have an excess of androgens and estrogens. Estrogen increases cellular resistance to insulin, which leads to storage of more fat and more estrogen, and a vicious circle is set in motion. Lastly, insulin lowers the production of sex-hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) in the liver, allowing more free testosterone to roam the bloodstream, and setting up the perfect conditions for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
If you have reproductive concerns, PMS or perimenopausal symptoms, consider minimising sugars and refined foods, including more fibre in your diet, and taking berberine as a supplement. Berberine has some contraindications if you are currently on medicine to control diabetes, if you are taking blood thinners, or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, so chat to one of our Wellness Consultants in store if you are unsure.
Avoid Environmental Toxins
In our toxin-riddled world, we generally suffer from excess estrogen. Hormone disruptors (xeno-estrogens) in our environment mimic estrogen by binding to estrogen receptor sites and interrupting the action of natural endogenous hormones. This may lead to early onset menstruation and puberty, and in men it may cause lowered sperm count and prostate cancer, as well as enlarged breast tissue.
Common hormone disrupters are parabens, phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA), which are found in certain body care and home cleaning products, as well as in bottled water, canned food linings, food packaging and plastic containers, baby bottles, drinking cups and toys, flame retardants and even mattresses. Look out for phthalates in pesticides used on conventional fresh produce. Rather buy organic produce where possible. Pesticides are also common in cotton feminine hygiene products and cotton garments.
Fragrances in air fresheners, body care and home cleaning products may also disrupt hormones, as will triclosan in hand sanitisers and anti-microbial products.
Consider these supplements for healthy estrogen metabolism:
Future Health Hormone Assist
Explore the natural and chemical-free body care and eco home products at Wellness Warehouse, as well as our large range of pesticide- and GMO-free fresh, frozen and ambient foods.
Support Liver, Kidney and Gut Health
The liver clears hormonal metabolites from the body, so supporting it with herbs may be worthwhile.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, kidney health is directly related to our primal source or life force energy, which is expressed in sexual, creative and reproductive energy. Kidney energy is depleted by stress and an unhealthy diet laden with sugary foods and drinks, additives and chemicals. Consider taking Dr A Vogel’s liver and kidney support duo.
Similarly, our gut microbiome plays a pivotal role in hormonal health, both by excreting hormones and in the direct communicative relationship between microbes and hormones. We recommend taking pre- and probiotics, and consuming fermented foods and drinks daily to ensure that intestinal health is optimised (tip: we love Rawbiotics Daily). Minimise anti-microbial products in your home, as they wreak havoc on the skin and gut microbiome.
YOUR PLAN OF ACTION TO NATURALLY BALANCE HORMONES
There is no quick fix, but committing to this plan for 12 weeks can see you well on your way to hormonal equilibirum…
Start with Nutrition
- Cut out sugar and refined carbs, and try intermittent fasting to balance blood sugar levels
- Eat seven to 10 cups of organic fruit and veg a day for micronutrients, phytonutrients, magnesium and fibre
- Embrace the healthy fats omega 3 and GLA (evening primrose or borage)
- Consume protein from clean food sources (such as organic and free-range meat, eggs and dairy products) to avoid growth and other hormones
- Ensure that you are absorbing your amino acids properly. L-theanine, l-lysine, l-arginine and l-tyrosine are all precursors to hormones and neurotransmitters. Check for low stomach acid, which might hamper the absorption of proteins.
- Minimise gluten. Gluten intolerance is linked to imbalanced estrogen, amenorrhea, infertility and diminished ovarian reserves, as well as premature menopause and low thyroid.
- Reduce alcohol (raises estrogen and slows fat burning) and caffeine (raises cortisol and estradiol)
- Support gut, liver and kidney health
- Supplement with a good multi-vitamin and mineral, Vitamin B complex and Vitamin C
- Hydrate well
Tweak Your Lifestyle
- Add breathing techniques, energy practices and restorative exercise to your daily regime to manage stress.
- Get out into nature as often as possible for its grounding and healing effects.
Lastly, Add Nutritive and Plant Medicines
These include any of the above recommended products, or a general restorative formula such as:
- Female (Menstrual): Neogenesis Femosyl
- Female (Menopausal): Organic Herbal Female Complex or Hormone Balance Natural HRT
- Male: Organic Traditions Maca for Men with Probiotics or Super Thrive Men
Visit our stores nationwide to chat to our Wellness Consultants, who will assist you in choosing the right products for your unique needs.