10 Ways to Balance Your Hormones for Health, Energy and Weight Control
So often, patients come into our office complaining of multiple symptoms like thinning hair, brittle nails, erupting skin, poor sleep, exhaustion, constipation, sexual or menstrual dysfunction and weight gain. These are all clues that can suggest hormonal imbalance, but there are several different types.
For example, fatigue and difficulty sleeping suggest problems with the adrenals, the glands that produce stress hormones. Fatigue, along with constipation, thinning hair, brittle nails, and weight gain can suggest problems with the thyroid, the gland that produces thyroid hormone. Peri-menopausal and menstrual issues suggest imbalances with estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, the sex hormones. Weight gain and fatigue are often a combination of all three of these hormonal imbalances.
But weight gain may also suggest a diet with too many sweets and starches. Carbohydrate-intolerance, meaning the hormone insulin isn’t working properly, is too often the culprit. We find the vast majority of patients who are struggling with their weight, especially as they get older, are somewhat insulin “resistant” and are eating too many carbs for what their bodies can efficiently metabolize.
In short, generally feeling and looking like crap is not OK, nor is it simply a normal side-effect of aging. However, it does indicate that your hormones may be out of balance and in need of some TLC, or even a total reset. Even if your health care provider has tested your adrenals, thyroid, and blood sugar and found “nothing wrong” by conventional measures, chances are that your hormones are anything but optimal. Instead of just living with it and accepting what some providers consider to be the inevitable by-product of aging, here are 10 ways to balance your hormones, fight back and feel better. When you focus on fixing the underlying dysfunctions, your hormones can find that nice, healthy balance, no matter what your age. So here’s where to start:
1) Cut back, way back on the sweets and starches: An overabundance can set put hormones on a roller coaster ride. A great thing to try is to eliminate sweets and starches altogether for two weeks to see how your body reacts. You will sleep better, have more energy and even lose some weight!
2) Try reducing your grains, legumes and high sugar fruits for two weeks. As you unknowingly may be carbohydrate-intolerant. Over-doing it on these carbs can cause metabolic problems for those of us who are insulin resistant or who don’t process carbohydrates efficiently. Insulin resistance is extremely common in our society and is a precursor to diabetes.
3) Eat more healthy fats and let go of your fat-phobia. Restricting good, healthy fats will short-change your body’s ability to produce the hormones that boost energy, feelings of satiety and suppress cravings.
4) Be good to your microbiome. Feed your gut with plenty of immune boosting foods and beneficial fiber to support good bacteria and keep bad bacteria controlled. This will not only keep digestion and elimination running smoothly, but will help hormone function too.
5) Avoid reactive, inflammatory foods: sugar, gluten, processed foods and junk food. They can over-tax your immune system, gut and endocrine system.
6) Sleep more and better. Not enough sleep or poor quality sleep wreaks havoc on your system. Lack of or dysfunctional sleep limits your body’s ability to release the hormones necessary to repair, restore and refresh cells as you snooze. The result? A more rapidly aging body and brain. Aim for 7 – 8 hours nightly to enable your hormones to do their job.
7) Cut back on the stimulants. Caffeine in the form of coffee, energy drinks, sodas, and sometimes even tea or chocolate interfere with the hormones that promote restorative sleep.
8) Cut the chemicals. There is no hormonal upside to on-going low-level exposure to common chemicals in your food, air, water, household cleaners, personal-care products and cosmetics – in fact, they interfere with optimal hormonal function. Make an effort to switch to the least toxic, most natural products possible to limit exposure to chemicals.
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9) Minimize the meds. On-going exposure to meds, including both over-the-counter remedies and prescription drugs can stress our microbiomes and throw hormones out of whack. Avoid hormone-disrupting OTC meds and, if you must take prescription drugs, ask your health care provider to prescribe the smallest therapeutic dose possible.
10) Train yourself to unwind in ways that enhance healthy hormone function. Whether you are dealing with difficult life challenges or just intermittent stress, remember to blow off steam regularly: find a funny movie and laugh, put on some music, or treat yourself to a night out and have some well-deserved fun! Add to that a regular meditation and you will be well on your way to balancing your hormones.