Hormones are often associated with puberty and a healthy libido, but the truth is, there are so many different kinds of hormones that are responsible for hundreds of bodily processes. Take care of your hormones, your body will thank you for it.
Here are some key hormones that greatly influence our overall wellbeing, and common symptoms that indicate that they may be off balance:
Cortisol is the hormone our body naturally creates when we’re stressed. Although frequently antagonized, this hormone is crucial for energy and for our body to remain in an active an alert state. The problem with cortisol is too much of it, all the time, is what would be considered an imbalance (like anything). Symptoms of a cortisol imbalance would be feeling restless at night and tired during the day.
An imbalance in estrogen, particularly too much estrogen is called estrogen dominance. As a primary female sex hormone, estrogen helps to regulate and keep a healthy reproductive system. When there’s an imbalance, too much estrogen can cause heavy periods, moodiness, and weight gain that’s difficult to lose. Too little estrogen on the other hand can cause joint pain and dry skin.
Progesterone is a steroid hormone and is responsible for a range of bodily functions such as menstruation and pregnancy. Progesterone also helps to stabilize moods so an imbalance in progesterone can be indicated by anxious moods. Look out as well for frequent periods, an chronic tiredness as this could indicate a progesterone imbalance.
Testosterone, often associated as a male hormone, is actually present and needed in male and female health. Testosterone is needed for a healthy libido, bone health, and muscle development. A testosterone imbalance is associated with fatigue, moodiness and low sex drive.
A healthy functioning thyroid maintains healthy digestion, regulates the body’s metabolism. Iodine is a in integral nutrient for thyroid health and those lacking could experience an underactive thyroid with symptoms such as irregular periods, mood disorders, hair loss, and chronic fatigue.
How can I balance my hormones?
Balancing your hormones is a lifestyle. While it’s difficult to navigate the complex web of hormones, how they interact with each other and affect your over health, a holistic approach always helps to improve symptoms of hormone imbalances. Seeking a doctor or a specialist, especially for extreme cases of hormonal imbalance, is ideal, but as the person living in your body, you too can take proactive steps to improve your hormone health.
1. Plug nutritional gaps:
Hormone imbalances can be linked to malnutrition. The body needs an adequate amount of nutrients in order to carry out thousands of bodily processes every day. Think of nutrients as gas and your hormone secreting organs as a car. Without gas, the car can’t move. Same for your organs, without adequate nutrients, hormone secreting organs such as the thyroid or ovaries, can’t go to make and release adequate levels of hormones.
Where nutritional gaps are concerned, assess your diet. Is it primarily a varied whole foods diet consisting mostly of plant-based foods? Or does your diet consist mostly of fast food and packaged meals? If your diet is the latter, a hormonal imbalance is a clear indication that it’s time for a change. Pair a nutrient-dense whole foods diet with a quality multivitamin to give your body the nutrients it needs to produce adequate levels of hormones.
2. Address Stress
Chronic stress puts a serious dampener on hormone producing organs due to the inflammatory effects of constant high levels of cortisol and also blocks them from being created, particularly our ovaries which is responsible for the secretion of estrogen and progesterone. This is partially why women who are chronically stressed also suffer from irregular or painful periods. Too much cortisol leads to an imbalance of female sex hormones.
With that said, it’s important to take time to relax and help your body lower cortisol levels on a daily basis to help ensure that your body is in the right state to release other necessary hormones. Whatever relaxes you, don’t only do it, but treat it as a priority. Even just 5 minutes of daily meditation, an hours worth of gentle exercise, or carving out 30 minutes for a healthy and nourishing meal can do wonders in keeping the body balanced.
3. Consider adaptogens
Adaptogens are a special group of plants that have the ability to help bring and keep the body in balance. This is done by nourishing the body accordingly to what it needs. For example, if you’re always tired adaptogens can nourish your thyroid to give you more energy whereas if you’re constantly feeing wired, adaptogens nourish your adrenals to help calm you down.
Where hormone balances are concerned, adaptogens like Ashwagandha help nourish all hormone excreting organs, helping to harmonize any imbalances and bring the body back to a healthier state.
4. Take fish oil
The omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oil does wonders for balancing hormones. Not only do they lower inflammation in the body but consuming omega 3 fatty acids also improves testosterone levels, increases serotonin, and balances out estrogen levels. This is why omega 3 fatty acids are particularly beneficial for women experiencing PMS or irregular periods.