What are hormones?
Hormones are chemical messengers and substances that are produced by the endocrine glands. They are released into the bloodstream and help regulate many body processes, such as appetite, sleep, growth, mood, sexual function, reproduction, and metabolism. They then transfer information from one set of cells to another to coordinate the functions of different parts of the body. When hormones are released into the bloodstream they may affect one or several organs throughout the body.
What is the endocrine system?
The endocrine system is a system of glands, organs that produce and secrete hormones, and chemical messengers that control other organs and systems.
The major glands of the endocrine system are:
- pineal body,
- the reproductive organs (ovaries in women and testes in men)
Both estrogen and progesterone are known as the "female hormones" which control sexual function and are produced in the ovaries and some other organs. The production of estrogen and progesterone are controlled by two hormones produced by the pituitary gland, which is located in the brain: Luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). LH and FSH control sexual function and production of the sex steroids: estrogen and progesterone in females and testosterone in males.
Are my hormones imbalanced?
The importance of balanced hormones, especially for women, cannot be emphasized enough. If you deal with irregular or missing periods, reduced sex drive, or infertility, consider showing your endocrine system some love. These are signs that your body isn’t performing it’s best. Don’t be discouraged- there are some steps you can take today to help restore the balance your body is asking for. Below are a few tips and tricks for naturally balancing hormones.
Include healthy fats in your diet
Fats are essential for creating hormones in the body. Good quality fat sources help reduce insulin resistance, keeping your hormones at healthy balanced levels.
Replace toxic cleaning and beauty products with natural options
What touches and surrounds your body is just as important as what goes into it. Many cleaning and cosmetic products are loaded with toxic chemicals that disrupt hormones. Make sure you check the label before purchasing. Look out for harmful additives like DEA, parabens, propylene glycol and sodium lauryl sulfate. Most importantly, beware of xenoestrogens, which mimic real estrogen and can trick the body into producing too much or too little estrogen.
What are adaptogens? These supplements are natural plants with healing properties that promote hormone balance. If you’ve never used them before, start slowly and stick to one or two for now. Combining too many may cancel out their effects. One notable adaptogen for hormonal health is Ashwagandha. It’s used to treat adrenal fatigue, which occurs when the body undergoes stress (physical, emotional, mental), which in turn can lead to hormonal imbalances.
Get enough quality sleep
A lack of and/or poor sleep quality has been linked to hormone imbalances, specifically insulin and cortisol disruption. Less sleep means higher stress hormones and heightened insulin resistance.
Reduce sugar intake
The more sugar you eat, the higher your insulin levels will be. Over time, this can lead to insulin resistance, which will continue to keep this hormone and others out of balance.
Consider going dairy and gluten-free (even if it’s just temporary)
Both dairy and gluten are known to contribute to inflammation. Try an elimination diet, where you remove products with these ingredients for a short period of time and watch out for any differences in how you feel. If you feel better, consider making the change long term.
Avoid added antibiotics
In the name of efficiency, the dairy and meat industries tend to feed animals synthetic estrogen and other hormones to enhance the size of the animal. When you eat meat raised with antibiotics you consume these additives as well. This can have many side effects, a common one being the very early onset of menstruation in young girls.
Add these foods to your grocery list:
- Flax seeds
- Cruciferous veggies (cauliflower helps balance estrogen)
- Raw butter/ghee (clarified butter)
- Wild-caught fish