Ooooh, the hot topic that we all love or hate – hormones. What are they and what can we do to keep them balanced? For starters, being on top of your liver function is one key way to improve endocrine function. Learn how to balance hormones naturally to look better, feel better, and enjoy life more.
Hormones are critical chemical messengers and major players when it comes to your overall health. Glands secrete various hormones for use in the body. The female hormones estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, are made, for the most part in the female ovary, and to a lesser extent in the adrenal glands. Of course, cortisol, insulin, and thyroid are important hormones, and I’ll delve deeper into their functions in another post.
Signs of Hormone Imbalance
The entire endocrine system works together like a symphony. If one hormone is imbalanced, it throws the whole system off. This makes achieving balance a little more difficult.
How can we identify imbalances? Here are some symptoms that can alert you that something is off:
- Difficulty getting pregnant, maintaining a pregnancy, or having endometriosis
- Fatigue and insomnia – these play off of each other creating a vicious cycle
- Mood disorders such as anxiety and depression – irritability is a big one also
- Unexplained weight loss or weight gain due to changes in metabolism
- Digestive issues and changes in appetite – this is one that is not readily correlated to hormone function
- Hair loss, low libido, and low self-esteem
- Just feeling “off” and you don’t know why
- A nagging sense of unease or unhappiness that is related to your cycle
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How To Balance Hormones Naturally
The Importance of Diet in Hormone Regulation
The gut microbiome and overall gut function play an important role in hormonal balance. Food allergies and sensitivities can imbalance blood sugar, which if left untreated long term, can lead to diabetes and obesity. Both of these conditions are inflammatory, which does a number on female hormones.
Eating unprocessed, high-fiber foods in the correct macro-nutrient ratio, ensures blood-sugar levels stay in range, leading to lower inflammatory markers. Designing your meals is easy: eat approximately four to six ounces of healthy protein, a cup or so of fibrous, low-starch vegetables, around 1/2 cup of starch, then top it off with one to two tablespoons of fat. Focus on whole, organic, unprocessed food. Your blood-sugar levels, mood, weight, digestion, and sleep patterns can’t help but improve.
It’s the starch that gets us in trouble. If you’re trying to lose weight, stick with 1/2 cup or less. If you feel unsatisfied after a meal, try eating a little more fat instead of searching your cupboards for cake and candy.
Our bodies crave good fats and minerals. Load up on nutrient-dense foods, and remember to eat starchy carbs (the good stuff we all love) in moderation. The less toxic food and chemicals your liver has to filter, the better it will be at eliminating toxic hormones.
It’s easy to check your blood sugar from home using a glucometer, and is one of the best ways to stay on top of your health.
The Role Exercise Plays
Exercise plays an important role in female hormone balance in that it helps to regulate the two big hormonal players, cortisol and insulin. When these two hormones are balanced, your weight, mood, and energy levels will be stable. Two of my favorite forms of exercise are interval training and walking.
Interval training lowers insulin levels and burns fat, while reducing inflammation, which is a major hormone disruptor. High-intensity exercise, lasting approximately 30 seconds, is followed by a rest period of the same amount or longer.
Brief periods of intense exercise doesn’t lead to adrenal burnout like other forms of exercise, including extreme cardio and long-distance running. Healthy adrenal function plays an important role in female hormone balance. Stationary bikes and weight lifting are both great ways to implement interval training into your day.
Walking, while it won’t burn fat like interval training, is great for reducing high cortisol levels caused by blood- sugar swings and stress. Implemented in conjunction with a consistent interval-training program, walking will help to keep cortisol levels in a healthy range.
Stretching is another favorite exercise of mine. Just a few minutes is enough to lower stress hormones, and strengthen the mind-body connection. Flexibility is a major marker of aging so spending a few minutes stretching everyday is extremely beneficial. Breathing and meditation can both be incorporated into a 20-minute stretching routine. Lowering stress levels, and the accompanying stress hormones, will improve hormonal health.
Diet and exercise strategies that foster a balanced endocrine system don’t take a lot of time, and are essential if your goal is better health. Consistency, not perfection, is key.
The endocrine system is the one system in the body that is most closely tied to emotions, mood and motivation so keeping it running smoothly is certainly worth the effort. We all want to feel more relaxed, motivated, empowered, peaceful, and happy.
We can’t feel this way if our hormones are running wild. This can be a vicious cycle; our hormonal balance affects our moods, and our not-so-happy moods affect our hormones. It’s a cycle we want to manage, rather than having it manage us.
Learning how to balance your hormones naturally with diet and exercise will also help to optimize liver function. Your liver will function much better without having to constantly process inferior food and toxic emotions.
What are you doing to keep your body in homeostasis? Let me know in this comments:)
(1) NCBI: High-intensity interval training for health benefits and care of cardiac diseases – The key to an efficient exercise protocol
(2) NCBI: High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss
(3) PubMed: Diet or Exercise Interventions vs Combined Behavioral Weight Management Programs: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Direct Comparisons
(4) NCBI: Stress and hormones
(5) NCBI: Central effects of stress hormones in health and disease: understanding the protective and damaging effects of stress and stress mediators
Disclaimer: This article is strictly for informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice.