5 Ways to Balance Your Hormones
Photo © William Farlow
Hormones can make your body feel perfectly synchronised, or they can make your body feel entirely out of whack. Fluctuations and imbalances of hormones can affect a woman's everyday lifestyle causing mood swings, weight gain or weight loss, and even the frustration to understand those hormone imbalances. So we're starting the conversation to bring clarity to what's happening to our bodies.
How do Hormones Affect PMS?
When estrogen rises too high, it can lead to many health problems including bloating, breast tenderness, decreased sex drive, mood swings, headaches, weight gain and many more. Estrogen levels rise right before menstrual cycles start, causing these symptoms to arise. These symptoms are what women refer to as premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
Symptoms of PMS last between a few days to a few weeks depending on the person, and over 90 per cent of women say that they experience some form of symptoms from PMS.
When estrogen drops too low, it can cause serotonin levels also to drop. Serotonin is a chemical that is associated with mood. A low level of serotonin can cause mood swings and depression. Low estrogen levels can also lead to irregular periods, infertility, painful intercourse and an increase in urinary tract infections.
How Does Stress Affect Hormones?
While stress does not directly cause PMS, the effects of stress can make PMS worse. Stress plays a huge role in hormone imbalances by causing the body to enter “fight or flight mode.” This is a physiological response that takes place when the body deems something as a threat.
Stress hormones cause the body to release sudden bursts of energy that would be needed to help the body “fight of flight.” However, an increase in stress hormones and energy leads to other changes in the body. It causes digestion to be suppressed, breathing to become rapid, the heart to beat harder and the immune system to not properly function.
Along with the “fight or flight” effects, an increase in stress hormones can affect women in many other ways. Cortisol can suppress women’s natural sex hormones, causing decreased sex drive. It alters hormones balances, causing periods to be short, late, irregular or even missed. Raised levels of cortisol can cause acne breakouts due to excess oil production in the skin.
How to Balance your Hormones?
You can’t change your body’s physiology, but you can make life changes to allow hormones to respond favourably. There are many opportunities to improve how you feel due to hormones. Sometimes, even the smallest changes can make all of the difference. When you feel your hormones going out of whack, use these tips and tricks to get back on track.
1. Detox your body.
Eliminate sugars, processed foods, alcohol and caffeine. Replace those toxins with leans protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. Detoxing your body and eliminating toxins will give the body a chance to catch up and balance hormones.
2. Get a full eight hours of sleep.
Hormones work on a schedule. Not getting a full eight hours of sleep can cause hormones to act up. Going back to stress and cortisol, cortisol is regulated at midnight. If you are not sleeping by then, your body never gets a break from the “fight or flight” mode. Go to sleep at a decent time to improve hormone balances.
3. Increase vitamin B-6, magnesium and zinc.
This can be done through supplements or by incorporating the proper foods into your diets such as poultry, whole grains, eggs, vegetables and soybeans. Adding these nutrients to your diet can eliminate symptoms from hormonal imbalances including food cravings, headaches, mood swings, breast tenderness and water retention.
4. Improve gut health.
Many hormones are produced in the digestive tract, and a healthy gut can improve the balance between hormones. Implement fibre and probiotics into your diet to promote gut health and happy hormones.
5. Maintain blood sugar.
It is important to maintain a steady level of glucose in the blood because low blood sugar can cause the body to enter the “fight or flight” mode. This creates a hormonal imbalance that increases cortisol and puts other hormones at stake. Incorporate a healthy diet that will ensure the proper amount of sugar for your body weight.