Hormones are chemical messengers produced by the endocrine system that send messages to various parts of the body.
Hormones help regulate things like libido, appetite, mood, energy, menstrual cycle and even blood pressure. So, they are pretty important right?
When it comes to reproductive health, for women, our ovaries produce sex hormones oestrogen, progesterone and androgens.
Think of hormones as an orchestra, you want them playing in harmony. If one is off beat, it can throw out the whole rhythm and cause us to experience unwanted symptoms.
I often get asked for tips and tools on how to balance hormones naturally.
So, I thought a cheat sheet on balanced hormones would be a good way to share my tips and tools.
Specifically, this cheat sheet contains things we can all do daily to promote hormonal balance from both a dietary and lifestyle perspective.
- Add a serve of phytoestrogens to your diet. Phytoestrogens are compounds which have weak oestrogen activity and can help to modulate oestrogen levels naturally. Common food sources include flaxseeds, sesame seeds and soy products. Including these in your diet may assist with symptoms of hormonal imbalance.
- Tip: add flaxseeds to smoothies, cereal, baked goods or salads.
- Eat a serve of healthy fats at every meal. Hormones are made from fat so it’s important to consume adequate fat in the diet. Healthy fat sources include fatty fish, EVOO, avocado or raw nuts/seeds.
- Tip: we need around ½ – 1 tbsp. healthy fats per meal.
- Prioritise fibre. Excess and metabolised hormones bind with fibre and get removed from the body instead of being recirculated and compounding hormonal imbalances. One of the easiest ways to boost fibre intake is to make sure each main meal contains at least ½ plate veggies and try to snack on fruit, nuts/seeds and raw veggie sticks.
- Tip: try adding oat bran or psyllium to smoothies and/or baked goods.
- Limit alcohol. Alcohol is seen as a “toxin” by the body so the body will prioritise eliminating it and this can impact usual detoxification or excess hormones. If choosing to drink, try to limit sugar rich drinks such as cocktail and opt for clean spirits such as gin and vodka served with soda water and fresh lime.
- Tip: there are so many great naturally flavoured sparkling waters today which act as a healthy and yummy mixer or non-alcoholic drink.
- Lean protein at each meal. The liver needs amino acids in order to carry out its detoxication processes. Make sure each meal contains a palm sized piece of protein such as legumes, tofu, fish, eggs, dairy, lean meat, nuts/seeds or a plant-based protein powder.
- Tip: when choosing plant-based protein, aim to eat a wide variety to ensure a balanced supply of essential amino acids.
- Choose brassica. Brassica veggies such as cauliflower, kale, broccoli, cabbage and brussel sprouts contain a compound called sulforaphane which is known to up regulate liver detox functions.
- Tip: sprinkle cooked broccoli with ground brown mustard powder to increase the bioavailability of sulforaphane.
- Flavour with herbs and spices. Herbs and spices especially turmeric, contain an array of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds which help to support liver detoxification processes and therefore aid the removal of excess hormones.
- Tip: always consume turmeric alongside a source of health fats and black pepper to aid absorption.
- Choose organic. While not always possible or affordable, choose organic where possible. This is a good way to reduce the toxin load on the body from pesticides found in non-organic foods.
- Tip: prioritise purchasing foods as organic which are susceptible to pesticides including berries, green leafy veggies, celery, tomatoes, apples, grapes and cherries.
- Ditch plastic where possible. Plastic contains xenoestrogens, which are compounds that imitate oestrogen, unhealthy form and a burden for the body to have to process.
- Tip: if you have to buy food in plastic, transfer it to a glass container or other BPA container for storage.
- Prioritise sleep. This could not be more important when it comes to hormones because our circadian rhythm can set the tone for other hormonal and metabolic rhythms and processes. I have shared sleep tips previously see HERE.
- Move daily: Movement isn’t important just for physical health but it can also aid sleep and mental health. Importantly also, research has shown that those who exercise make better food choices without really thinking.
- Tip: find a form of exercise which you like because this way you will be sure to keep consistent with it.
- Infrared Sauna: If you have access to an infrared sauna, this might be a good way to promote detoxification and may also be a nice way to unwind and have relax.
- Mindfulness practice. Whether its deep breathing, tai chi, walking/sitting in green space of meditation, mindfulness practice is a great way to activate the rest and digest part of our nervous system. When our fight or flight part is activated, we produce excess cortisol and this can have a negative impact on other hormones including progesterone.
- Set Boundaries. Learn to say no when something does not serve you. Without healthy boundaries we may be doing things which do not nourish our soul and in turn this is a stress on the body. Be ok with putting yourself first and doing what best serves your health.