In the last post, we talked about hormones and hormonal imbalance (symptoms, causes, and so on).
Today, we’ll discuss all of the natural ways to balance your hormones (and treatment options for hormonal imbalance, if the natural methods don’t work for you.)
I believe this topic is less talked about in the fitness community yet so, so relevant in today’s society, and I feel like it will be beneficial to those not familiar with how their hormones impact their body, mood, and lifestyle.
Let’s jump right into it.
Here are the seven best practical tips you can use to balance your hormone levels naturally…
1. Swapping Carbs for Healthy Fats
Eating many foods which are high in short, medium and long-chain fatty acids is essential to keep your hormones in balance. Your body needs various types of fats, including saturated fat and cholesterol, to create hormones. These are not only essential fats that are the fundamental building blocks for hormone production, but they also keep inflammation levels low, promote weight loss and boost your metabolism. Healthy fats have the opposite effect of refined carbohydrates, which can mess with your hormonal balance and lead to inflammation.
Excellent sources of anti-inflammatory healthy fats are:
- Coconut oil: coconut oil has plenty of uses, for example, it has natural anti-bacterial and fat-burning effects.
- Avocado: this fruit improves the health of your heart, lowers inflammation, controls your appetite and contributes to your daily intake of fiber and nutrients such as potassium.
Salmon – this is one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which lowers inflammation and helps with cognitive functions. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for the communication of cells in the brain and are a significant component of brain-cell membranes. Studies show that omega-3 fatty acids help protect against hippocampal neuronal loss and reduce inflammatory responses.
2. Using Adaptogen Herbs
These herbs are a unique class of healing plants which promote hormonal balance and protect your body from a wide variety of diseases, including those caused by and related to chronic stress. In addition to all of that, studies show that various adaptogens – such as ashwagandha, medicinal mushrooms, Rhodiola and holy basil can improve many things such as thyroid function, lower cholesterol levels, reduce anxiety and depression, stabilise blood sugar and insulin levels!
3. Addressing Emotional Imbalances…
Your emotions and your hormones share a connection, and you can’t deny that they influence one another. If you address your emotional imbalances due to external factors and make some lifestyle changes, you can prevent health conditions associated with hormonal imbalances.
Negative emotions such as chronic fear and stress can cause discomfort in your reproductive organs, kidneys and adrenals, affecting your cortisol levels. This can lead to severe conditions like PCOS and infertility. Other emotions such as frustration, impatience, and hatred can lead to problems in your liver, which can cause an estrogen imbalance. Feelings which are the result of stress such as worry and anxiety can cause issues with your insulin levels and can then affect several hormones.
A significant role in balancing your hormones naturally plays addressing your emotions and dealing with them. You can do this by taking time for yourself, trying new and exciting things, and engaging in personal reflection. Practicing meditation, spending time outdoors and more exercise can be extremely beneficial.
Because your hormones and emotions share a connection, working to balance the one will impact the other. So if you’re feeling any negative emotions such as stress, anger, fear, please understand that this is also affecting your hormonal balance and can lead to worse performance in the gym (not to mention serious health issues). It would be best to make working on your emotions part of your daily routine – exercising our emotional muscles too! Something simple as 10 minutes of guided meditation a day is an excellent place to start.
4. Using Natural Oils
If you want to balance your hormones naturally, it’s essential to clean your body of toxins by avoiding conventional body care products made with potentially-harmful chemicals including DEA, parabens, propylene glycol and so on. Better alternatives to these products are natural ones made with ingredients like essential oils, coconut oil, shea butter and castor oil.
5. Supplement to Fill Nutritional Voids
Supplements should never replace a good nutrition plan, but if you have one in place and still can’t reach hormonal balance, supplementing is not something you should take off the table.
The best supplements to support your hormones are:
- Vitamin D: This vitamin acts almost like a hormone inside the body, and it’s essential to keeping your inflammation levels low. That’s the reason why people who live in dark areas often suffer from seasonal depression and other health issues. Pure old sunshine is one of the best ways to increase vitamin D levels. Another problem is that vitamin D is not equally distributed in your body because not all parts of your body are equally exposed to the sunlight (unless you’re going out naked all the time.) The best way to make sure your body gets its much-needed vitamin D consistently is to supplement. If you live in a dark area or can’t go out in the sun, you should take 2000-5000 IU of vitamin D3, daily.
- Bone Broth: Taking bone broth or protein powder made from it is especially beneficial to your health because it contains healing compounds like collagen, glycine, glutamine, which boost your overall health. Also, bone broth soothes the digestive system and supplies the body with nutrients which can be easily absorbed.
- Probiotics: They’re healthy bacteria which improve your production and regulation of critical hormones such as insulin, ghrelin and leptin. Probiotics can help repair your gut lining, which can balance your hormones. Undigested food particles, such as gluten, for example, can leak through your gut into your bloodstream, and cause inflammation which impacts the whole body – especially glands like the thyroid which are very susceptible to heightened inflammation. Commonly, people with leaky gut have a deficiency of probiotics in their stomach.
6. Beware of Medications and Birth Control
Are you on any form of medication?
And if you are, are you aware of their side effects?
Some over-the-counter medicines can affect and disrupt your hormones, causing fatigue, appetite changes, low libido, sadness and even in some cases, depression. Some of the medications which can mess your hormonal balance include stimulants, statins, corticosteroids, dopamine agonist and so on. Before you start using any drug, it would be best if you first talk to your doctor and find natural alternatives whenever possible.
Birth control pills are another dangerous medication which messes with your hormonal levels. This pill raises estrogen to such dangerous levels and can lead to many complications. If your doctor does not prescribe it, I suggest you stop using it immediately, especially when there are many other safer options for preventing pregnancy.
Researches show some of the long-term risks of taking them such as increased risk of breast cancer, increased blood pressure, mood changes, and the list goes on and on and on.
7. Getting More Sleep
If you don’t get 7-8 hours of sleep every night, you aren’t helping your body. Lack of sleep can be one of the worst habits that contribute to a hormone imbalance. Your hormones work on a schedule – for example, cortisol (the stress hormone), is regulated at midnight. Therefore, people who go to bed late can never truly get a break from their flight/fight stress response.
The three contributors to high cortisol levels are lack of sleep, long-term use of corticosteroid, and chronic stress. Shared reports state that stress can lead to changes in the serum level of many hormones including glucocorticoids, catecholamines, growth hormone, and prolactin.
Sleep keeps stress hormones balances, builds energy, and allows the body to recover properly. Constant stress and poor sleep are linked with higher levels of morning cortisol, decreased immunity and work performance, and higher susceptibility to anxiety, weight gain and depression. If you want to maximize your hormone function, try to get to bed by 10-11 p.m. and stick with a regular sleep-wake-cycle as much as possible.
The Benefits of Balanced Hormones
The benefits of balanced hormones are closely related to the lifestyle change you make to achieve that balance.
Remember – your body’s hormones are really powerful substances. They have an impact on your physical, mental, and emotional health.
Knowing this, we can clearly see why we should strive to balance them.
Once your body’s hormones are balanced, your body is at peace.
At the gym, at work, or at home – these benefits will be there to make you a better feeling person, and a better performing athlete.
First of all, energy! Once your hormones are back to appropriate levels, your body starts working more productively! The more you move, the more energy you have. In the gym, that translates to more endurance, better performance, and higher motivation!
Second of all, better sleep… Only when your hormones are balanced will you fall asleep easy and have a restful sleep. If you’ve ever tossed or turned in your sleep or experienced night sweats, those are two common signs of imbalance that will keep your body away from a peaceful sleep.
And not to mention improved mood! Balancing your hormone levels is known to reduce mood swings, improve your focus, and replace an irritable mood with a happy one. It’s like your body’s way of saying “thank you”.
So we can see… our hormones affect a huge part of our life – be it our performance in the gym, or our performance at work, or both, if you’re a fitness competitor.
From fewer mood swings to more vigor during workouts, we know the right balance of hormones is guaranteed to give us an extra edge in the gym.
To wrap up, we can say that our hormones affect our lifestyle as much our lifestyle affects our hormones!
If you’re working on your body, eating the right things, and treating your body well – your body will return the favor to you by improving your mood and performance.
If you’re not getting enough sleep, stuffing junk food all the time, and not exercising or living actively, your body will lower your motivation, ruin your mood, and take you to a plateau in both fitness and life.
I hope that today you learned the importance of balancing your hormones and learning about this extra dimension of your body will make strive to only give your body the best from now on.
Your body will thank you for it!