Hormones are chemical messengers that affect many different aspects of our health. When in proper balance things move along tickety-boo. But if our hormones become imbalanced a cascade of symptoms such as weight gain, cravings, mood swings, hot flashes and night sweats, to name but a few, can be experienced. Trying to regain hormone balance can be complicated and may even require the help of someone experienced in the field. But it is important that you start somewhere. Here are three tips that you can start implementing yourself to help with balancing your hormones.
Lower Your Stress Level
When we are stressed, the adrenals work overtime to protect us from what they consider physical stress (even though we are not really in danger). This is our fight or flight response. It causes the adrenals to produce higher levels of adrenaline and cortisol.
Because we can only produce adrenaline for a few seconds, our fight or flight response is dependent on excess cortisol, and this is where the havoc begins. Excess cortisol has been linked to depression, blood sugar problems, reproductive issues, anxiety and weight gain around the middle.
The key is to support the health of the adrenals with foods rich in B vitamins, vitamin C and potassium. Practising meditation or deep breathing helps lower cortisol.
Focus on Your Liver
Excess hormones like cortisol, estrogen and testosterone all need to be detoxed out of the body. This is a key process that the liver performs to make sure we do not suffer from the excess of these hormones. Supporting the health of the liver, therefore is critical. A milk thistle supplement helps liver function more optimally. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and kale, apples, grapefruit, garlic, onions, Jerusalem artichokes, lemons, limes and berries are just a few foods that help support the liver.
We also need good gut health to help make sure the toxins leave the body so supporting gut health is also important. This is easier said than done but it starts with adding probiotics and fermented foods such as kefir, yogurt, kimchi or sauerkraut. Prebiotic foods such as garlic, onion, potatoes, wheat, broccoli, berries and apples, just to name a few, feed our good bacteria and help keep our gut healthy.
Balance Your Blood Sugar
Bad eating habits and stress can cause our blood sugar to swing up and down throughout the day. When our blood sugar drops, we can experience anger, fatigue, weakness and depression. Normally, we then receive a signal to do something such as a sugar craving or a desire for a coffee or a beer. If we respond to the craving, and consume something, this will bring our blood sugar back up. Caffeine, sugar and alcohol all cause the blood sugar to swing up high. This causes a high insulin release. And too much insulin can affect other hormones.
If we do not respond to the craving, then our adrenals send a signal to tell the liver to release stored glucose and bring up blood sugar. Again, it tends to be a lot of glucose since adrenaline is a powerful hormone. Blood sugar swings high and again, large amounts of insulin are released.
To keep blood sugar stable, eat small meals throughout the day with fiber and/or protein. Blood sugar stabilizing foods such as Jerusalem artichokes, cinnamon and legumes can be very helpful. Lowering stress also helps keep blood sugar stable.
These are just three simple steps. Give them a try and see the difference they can make.