In both men and women, hormones are naturally occurring chemicals in the body that travel from your endocrine system through your blood to various tissues and organs. By releasing hormones, the parts of your body communicate with each other, and have an impact on many bodily processes. In fact, they greatly affect your growth, metabolism, moods, and sexual function.
There are plenty of medications marketed to people who are concerned about hormone imbalances; however, there are also plenty of effective ways to keep them in check without chemicals or additives.
Why Is Hormone Balance Important?
According to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, hormones play a role in the development of cancer. Thyroid-stimulating hormones, insulin, and estrogen are important hormones to know because estrogen has been linked to increases in breast cancer and uterine cancer, and insulin has been linked to liver, breast, gynecological and pancreas cancers. Other important hormones are testosterone and adrenaline.
Some causes of hormone imbalances include being overweight, high stress, high exposure to toxic chemicals, genetics, poor diet, and food allergies. If you have a hormone balance, you may experience some of these common symptoms:
- Unexplained weight gain or loss
- Irregular periods
- Low libido
- Digestion issues
- Appetite changes
How to Balance Hormones Naturally
The best way to keep your bodily hormones in check is to get a good balance of macronutrients and micronutrients in your diet. This can largely be done with food and natural dietary supplementation if you aren’t getting enough of certain nutrients from food alone. Both prebiotics and probiotics can aid digestion and help regulate your hormones as well.
However, you can’t truly balance your hormones with diet alone, and your lifestyle plays a huge role too. Keep up with a regular exercise routine because excess weight can alter your hormone levels. It’s also important to get enough sleep at night so that your body can properly regulate insulin, ghrelin, and leptin. These last two hormones help regulate your appetite.
Avoiding chemicals in your diet, hygiene/beauty regimen, and lifestyle can also have a profound impact on your hormones. Hormone-disrupting chemicals have been found in everything from agricultural pesticides to plastics and household cleaners. Avoid chemically-laced products when you shop, and stock up on chemical-free cleaning products for your home.
Healthy Foods for Hormone Balance
There are lots of delicious and healthy foods that you are probably already eating that can help you achieve optimal hormone balance. In general, it’s a smart idea to cut high-fat meat and dairy products out of your diet and replace those with high fiber foods instead. Cut as many unhealthy fats from vegetable oils out of your diet and replace them with the healthy fats in 100% extra virgin olive oil. Finally, limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol as much as possible to support healthy and fully-functional hormones.
Here are some foods to add to your next grocery shopping list for hormone balance:
- Fish, especially tuna and salmon (vitamin D, omega-3s)
- Broccoli (insulin and estrogen balance)
- Cauliflower (insulin and estrogen balance)
- Kale (insulin and estrogen balance)
- Bananas (prebiotics)
- Asparagus (prebiotics)
- Artichoke (prebiotics)
- Oatmeal (prebiotics)
- Dried beans (prebiotics, high fiber)
- Yogurt (probiotics)
- Kefir (probiotics)
- Whole grains (high fiber)
- Mushrooms (Vitamin D)
Finally, there are some natural herbs that have shown promise in keeping hormones balanced as well. Here are some herbs to discuss with your doctor to ensure that they won’t interact with other medications or contraceptives you are taking.
- Holy basil
- Red raspberry leaf
- Chaste tree berry