Natural Ways to Balance your Female Hormones
If you missed my Community Talk and are curious about what hormones are and, more specifically, how to balance your hormones for optimal health … then this is the blog for you!
Hormones are chemical messengers in the body. They are synthesized from cholesterol. So, having enough high-quality fats in your diet, specifically cholesterol, is important for your hormone levels.
The Basics, Estrogen
Estrogen. Estrogen comes from a woman’s ovaries and adrenal glands. Estrogen supports her metabolism and makes her skin and hair soft and beautiful! It also helps build bone density which is important in her early years to help prevent osteoporosis which can happen later in her menopausal years. With all the important jobs that estrogen has it is essential for it to be in balance. When it is out of balance a few things can happen.
Estrogen dominance. This happens when there is too much estrogen circulating in the body. A woman may experience heavy and/or irregular periods, breast tenderness, or even fibroid breast tissue. Other common symptoms are water retention and bloating before periods. Estrogen dominance can also affect a woman’s mood. Irritation or anger before periods can be linked to this imbalance.
Estrogen deficiency. This can occur when there is not enough estrogen in the body. Women may experience very light periods and delayed ovulation. If there isn’t enough estrogen there may also be fatigue and a decreased libido or sex drive. A woman who does not have enough estrogen will tend towards depression before her period.
How to Balance Estrogen
If your estrogen is too high the following can be important strategies:
- The Goal: Decrease external sources of estrogen or estrogen disruptors coming into the body.
How to: Buy organic meats and produce. My recommendation is checking out the dirty dozen and clean 15 guide for which foods to buy organic vs not on a budget. This can be found on the environmental working group website. Also, switch from chemical-based cleaning, beauty and sunscreen products to natural ones like vinegar and essential oils, or mineral based products, respectively.
- The Goal: Support the liver to breakdown old used hormones and send them to the digestive system for elimination.
How to: Increase your consumption of brassica family vegetables (kale, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts and cabbage) to provide the liver with the right nutrients for breaking down those hormones. Drink plenty of water as well as increase food sources of fiber in the diet to ensure daily bowel movements to promote excretion of waste products from the liver. Two tablespoons of ground flax and half your plate of colourful vegetables at meals is a great way to support elimination of used hormones.
If your estrogen is too high there are different strategies that will restore balance:
- The Goal: Decrease stress.
How to: Essential to try meditation, daily walking and forest time or using herbs like Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, and Ginseng to improve stress resilience.
- The Goal: Use foods and herbs to restore estrogen.
How to: Increase your consumption of nuts and seeds. Specifically, 2tbsp daily of flax, sesame, pumpkin, and sunflower seeds provides the body with the appropriate fats and minerals to create your sex hormones. Herbs like Vitex and Medicago also support estrogen production.
- The Goal: Use Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy to restore estrogen.
How to: Book a visit with me to investigate this option.
The Basics, Progesterone
Like estrogen, progesterone comes from the ovaries and the adrenal glands. It helps to calm a woman’s nervous system and helps her sleep. It’s good for the heart as well as decreasing inflammation in the brain after a traumatic brain injury. It has many different roles in a woman’s body. Progesterone excess is not common because of the way it functions in relation to estrogen, but a progesterone deficiency is.
Progesterone deficiency. Symptoms include spotting before your period, a short second half of the menstrual cycle, headaches, breast tenderness, acne, and premenstrual anxiety or nervousness.
How to Increase Progesterone
In treating a progesterone deficiency, we want to do similar treatments as mentioned above that increase estrogen too. Check out all of the estrogen lowering strategies above, especially decreasing stress, incorporating daily nuts, seeds, and healthy fats into the diet. Progesterone specific herbs I like to use include Vitex and Dioscorea. Lastly, using bioidentical hormone replacement therapy may be necessary.
The Basics, Testosterone
Testosterone belongs to the family of hormones called androgens. The protective effects androgens have on a woman’s body include increasing libido, stabilizing blood sugar (through insulin), mood and energy as well as giving a woman nice hair and skin. When androgens are out of balance, we usually see this as an excess. This excess may be a part of a condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
How to Decrease Testosterone
Common symptoms of PCOS include acne, unwanted hair growth, excess weight gain and irregular periods. Try incorporating some of these habits into your routine if you have an androgen excess:
- The Goal: Decrease foods that spike blood sugar.
How to: Reduce intake of refined, processed, and high glycemic carbohydrates. These include baked goods, convenience foods and foods with added sugar.
- The Goal: Improve your body’s response to insulin.
How to: Increase your consumption of fiber, lean protein, and healthy fats. Exercise is also a vital way to control insulin levels in the body.
How to Balance your Hormones
The above information is a sample of hormone imbalances a woman can experience. This is by no means an exhaustive list. Nor is it a complete guide to treatment options. Every woman is unique, and so is are her hormonal imbalances. That is why it is important to talk to your doctor if you think you may be suffering from a hormonal or menstrual issue. With your doctor’s help you can have appropriate assessment and testing to determine which treatment options will be best suited to you. Regardless of the hormonal imbalance that you may be experiencing healthy diet and lifestyle remain pillars of your optimal health. Don’t forget to drink your water, eat nutritious sources of fruits, vegetables, fat and protein and get out for regular bouts of exercise in mother nature.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns please reach out. I’m always happy to assist you on your health and wellness journey! You can find me in person at The IV centre and on Instagram @dr.kayleedriedger.nd.
To book an appointment with Dr. Kaylee please call 604-974-8999 or email firstname.lastname@example.org