With so many known medical conditions out there, it can be hard to find out the root cause of our ills.
In today’s society, it’s not uncommon to experience symptoms such as poor sleep, exhaustion, constipation, sexual dysfunction, menstrual complications, skin problems, and weight gain.
These problems typically point towards issues of the thyroid or adrenal problems, although it’s not always straightforward to diagnose. In fact, conventional doctors are quick to find diseases, but not dysfunctions.
While a naturopath might look into lifestyle habits, diet, and emotional health during a diagnosis, a conventional doctor will examine test results and find pharmaceuticals and other therapies to treat the symptoms.
That’s why you should look out for the symptoms outlines below.
The Different Types of Hormonal Imbalance
The endocrine system is the collection of glands that produce hormones. They include the pituitary gland, thyroid gland, parathyroid glands, adrenal glands, pancreas, ovaries and testicles (1).
When your adrenal glands don’t function properly, you may experience body aches, fatigue, nervousness, sleep disturbances and digestive problems as well as weight loss, low blood pressure, and lightheadedness, loss of body hair (3).
These glands produce cortisol (a stress hormone), aldosterone (which regulates blood pressure), adrenaline, and more (4).
Your thyroid, which regulates metabolism, can be either over or underactive. An underactive thyroid, called hypothyroidism, can cause fatigue, sensitivity to the cold, dry skin, constipation, weight gain, muscle weakness, brittle nails, and thinning hair (5).
Finally, imbalances of sex hormones such as progesterone, testosterone, and estrogen can cause menstrual problems, early menopause/andropause, as well as sexual dysfunction, weight gain, fatigue, and more (7).
While these imbalances may signal disease or other ills, it may also be a sign of poor diet and lifestyle factors.
That’s why it’s good idea to try the tips below and see how they make you feel. If you notice a positive change, then your hormones were likely temporarily imbalanced.
How to Balance Hormones: 10 Key Tips
Hormone imbalance can be tricky to diagnose and treat, but here are ten ways to improve your body, naturally.
1. Cut the Sweets
Sugar is the number one way to send your hormones on a downward spiral.
Consuming sugar triggers the release of the hormone insulin. Insulin spikes cause by eating sweets then lowers levels of an important protein known as sex hormone-binding globulin, which binds excess estrogen and testosterone in the blood.
When your sex hormones levels are too high or unbalanced, you might experience irritability, anxiety, insomnia and more (8).
To get a true feel of how your body reacts to sugar, quit all sweets and starches for 2 weeks.
2. Reduce your Carbs
Grains, legumes, and fruits are all sources of carbs, which also trigger the release of insulin. Eating too many carbs (especially refined carbs) regularly can lead to constantly high blood sugar, which can lead to insulin resistance.
While carbs should be a significant part of your meal, they shouldn’t be the only thing on your plate. If you still haven’t seen results after cutting out sugar, swap out carb-laden meals, like pasta, pizza, and rice for fresh produce and lean protein.
3. Eat more Healthy Fats
Despite what our fat-phobic society may tell you, it’s actually healthy -and essential- to eat fatty foods.
The key is to avoid processed fat (like palm oil or soybean oil) and stick to all-natural fats, like avocado, coconut, and fish oil.
The fats will help curb cravings and boost energy, and they’re also necessary for hormone production and signaling (9).
4. Feed your Gut
Gut bacteria plays an important role in absorbing the nutrients responsible for creating hormones and supporting the endocrine system.
What’s more, a healthy gut is essential for a proper balance between neurotransmitters and hormones.
5. Keep Inflammation at Bay
Eating processed foods can spike your inflammation levels. So can high-gluten, high-sugar, and high-sodium foods. That’s in part because eating an unhealthy diet takes a toll on your gut, which then set a domino effect that ills your immune and endocrine systems.
To keep your inflammation levels low, quit the processed stuff and add anti-inflammatory foods and spices to your daily diet.
6. Catch some Zzzs
Every night when we sleep, our bodies are clearing up waste and breaking down old cells. In doing so, your body also maintains all aspects of your endocrine system and rebalances hormones. When you don’t get enough sleep, resulting hormonal imbalances lead to fatigue, weight gain, and even disordered sleep.
7. Drop the Coffee
Stimulants such as caffeine artificially excite your central nervous system and lead to an increase in blood pressure and cortisol levels. Having multiple cups of coffee a day or drinking a caffeinated drink late at night can also interfere with sleep hormones.
If you’re a coffee addict, slowly decrease your intake and replace your cup of joe with green tea, which contains less caffeine. Going caffeine-free for a whole month may also give your body time to readjust its hormone levels.
8. Reduce Chemical Exposure
Believe it or not, there are harmful chemicals in the environment and in your home that wreak havoc on your body. Everything from household cleaners to cosmetics and laundry detergent all contain chemicals that can interfere with normal hormone function.
9. Avoid Pharmaceuticals
Pharmaceuticals may be helpful in the short-term, especially in the case of life-threatening conditions, but they are no long-term solutions. As any pill box will tell you, pharmaceuticals all have side-effects, even the over-the-counter stuff. In some cases, they may even disrupt your endocrine system (11).
As much as you can, prevent injury and use natural healing methods when ill. If you must take prescription drugs, ask the doctor to prescribe the smallest therapeutic dose possible.
10. Take a Deep Breath
Stress is the number one cause of inflammation and disease. Stress triggers the release of cortisol, a stress hormone that helps with short-term survival. When your stress levels are too high for too long, it can trigger inflammation and fat storage, among other things (12).
If you tend to be affected by stress regularly, find something that relaxes you and make time for it. Whether it’s yoga, reading, meditation, or a nice hot bath, make sure to schedule a bit of “me time” to unwind and let go of all that stress.
Now that you know how to balance hormones, all you have to do is implement the tips above. You won’t even believe how much better you’ll feel!