Pretty much everyone is concerned about ‘balancing their hormones’. And for good reason! Hormones are important signalling molecules that tell our bodies how to behave. Whether you’re looking to maintain a healthy weight, maximize your fertility, or optimize your energy levels, making sure your hormone levels are in check is the first place to start!
There are two main factors in achieving hormonal balance: building enough hormones within the body, and excreting the leftover or unwanted hormones that may be causing symptoms.
Let’s begin with the first aspect: building healthy hormones!
Eat Enough Fat (the Right Kind)
Yes, it’s true. Eating enough healthy fats will help your body make more hormones!
This is because hormones are made from a fat molecule in the blood called cholesterol. While we don’t want our cholesterol levels to be too high, having enough of a reservoir can provide the building blocks necessary for proper levels of progesterone, estrogen, testosterone and cortisol.
But instead of piling our plates full of high-fat anything, lets focus on the anti-inflammatory and heart-healthy omega-3 and omega-9 fats. Aim to eat more nuts and seeds (especially walnuts, hemp and chia), wild caught salmon, avocado, olives, and coconut. If you have difficulty digesting fats in the diet, consider taking a specialized digestive enzyme to help you absorb these nutrients!
Rest and Recharge
Did you know that our bodies will change the amount of hormones it makes depending on our levels of stress? Yup.
If we send the body signals that we need to keep our go-go-go lifestyle up, we will downregulate our production of reproductive hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. This happens after longer periods of chronic stress. To break the cycle we need to change the signals we send!
One of the simplest thing you can do is sleep. The goal of 8 hours of interrupted sleep per night should be a top priority! If you’re currently getting less, start slow and try to increase by thirty minutes of sleep each week until you’ve reached your goal. And if you’re already an excellent sleeper but are glued to your phone or laptop (both are considered stressors by your body), aim to unplug for a few hours each day to help reset your mind!
Now that we’ve supported the body into making enough hormones, we need to encourage their proper elimination! If you’ve ever experienced PMS, highs & lows in energy, or weight issues, excess hormones may be to blame.
Let’s look at the ways we can help with the second aspect of hormone balance: prevent a buildup of these unwanted molecules in the body.
Detox & Reset
Hormones are mostly eliminated through the digestive tract via the liver. So we need to keep our livers working well and maintain healthy bowel function (constipation is a big factor in preventing proper hormone clearance). Supporting our liver daily is key for long term health.
Eating dark leafy greens, starting your morning with lemon water, and minimizing caffeine and alcohol are excellent first steps. However, many of us living in our modern-day society can benefit from a more formal liver detox once or twice a year. Consider adding a high quality, nutrient dense liver detox powder to your daily smoothie for a few weeks to help boost hormone elimination.
Regular exercise is essential for overall health, but especially helpful for optimal hormones!
It has been shown that exercising for 150 minutes per week can help you lose weight (by balancing blood sugar and reducing the fat-storage hormone insulin) and partaking in high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can naturally boost testosterone levels for improved libido, energy, and muscle mass. The key is to participate in an activity you enjoy so that it becomes part of your weekly routine.
There you have it, simple strategies to get your hormones balanced, naturally! If you’ve adopted these strategies but are still experiencing symptoms, a consultation with a naturopathic doctor can help. Book a free 15 minute virtual call to see if this would be the right option for you!
Dr. Laura Belus is a Naturopathic Doctor that focuses on detoxification and hormone balance for weight loss, stress management, and greater energy. She believes in making simple, yet powerful, changes to diet & lifestyle habits that create lasting results. She practices in Mississauga and Toronto.