Hormones have profound effects on mental, physical and emotional health. There are over 50 within the body and they control a lot of processes in your body. Today we’re focusing mainly on female hormone health (this is still an important read for the men too, menstrual health should not be a mystery!).
There are some factors outside of our control, such as our age, life changes such as menopause, or what we are exposed to in our environment, but:
It is definitely in our power to shift our hormonal health for the better.
Never underestimate the power of a small change and a mind that believes change is possible.
Hormone balance is deeply connected to the food and nutrients we eat, exercise we get, toxins we absorb, weight we carry, and stress levels.
1. Eat enough
Eating enough is crucial; you need enough calories to be able to synthesize hormones. Specifically focus on getting enough protein and enough unsaturated fats (such as in nuts, seeds, olive oil and oily fish). Consider getting 1-2 palms of lean protein per meal and snacks, and 1 thumb of fat in each meal also.
Chronic undereating can look doesn’t necessarily look like starving yourself, it can be subtler than that. Sleep disturbances like waking up and not being able to get back to sleep, brain fog, fatigue, constipation and feeling cold can all be signs that you’re not eating enough.
2. Increase Fibre
Fibre is an incredibly important modulator of hormones. It binds to hormones in the gut which means they can be excreted out of the body. Without fibre, these hormones are reabsorbed back into the bloodstream, meaning too high levels and continue circulating.
Fibre also ‘feeds’ the gut microbiome, and some of those microbes are responsible for actually synthesising some of our hormones.
A note of caution: increasing fibre whilst having not enough calories is likely to contribute to irregular or missing menstruation. The too few hormones being created will be flushed too quickly out of your system via the fibre.
So make sure you’re eating enough pretty much no woman should be on 1200 calories!!) and then slowly increase fibre (to reduce digestive discomfort - your body will adapt if you increase it slowly).
3. Add more whole food, plant-based meals
Yes, plants will increase your fibre intake, but this one is also about intentionally decreasing processed and animal products.
Many animal products, including meat and dairy, contain compounds that mimic the hormones in our body. That’s not to say you can’t consume them of course, but certainly be aware that eating animal products is linked to increased oestrogen and oestrogen dominance.
4. Include soy products
Yes you read that right! Soy products get a bad rap - and without cause. They actually contain phytooestrogens which are fantastic at selectively binding to hormone receptors in the body and actually help modulate oestrogen levels in the body.
There is also limited evidence to suggest that early and continued consumption of low-processed soy products such as tofu, tempeh and edamame beans might also decrease risk of breast cancer.
5. Manage sleep and stress
In a chronically stressed state, the body actually steals from progesterone levels in order to increase cortisol levels (which can result in oestrogen dominance ultimately).
Implementing great sleep hygiene habits and stress management techniques such as breathing, meditation, NSDR practices (non-sleep deep rest), and cold exposure therapy are all ways you can regulate your nervous system and give your body the tools it needs to find better balance on its own. I’ve written blogs on many of these tools so go search for some of the above and binge on ways to improve sleep and stress management!
Getting enough movement and exercise are also fantastic ways to influence your hormones for the better.
6. Seek help
Painful and heavy periods, nausea, headaches, disturbed sleep and low mood can be debilitating and need to not be written off as just ‘part of being a woman’.
Don’t be afraid to seek medical help; there are some conditions such as PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), fibroids and endometriosis that can cause some of these symptoms. And even if it’s not one of those conditions, every woman deserves to feel good in her body.
Do you have any questions around hormone health?
What are your experiences?
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