Hormone Imbalance: How to wrangle them back into a sweet balance to feel our best.
Eliza Hedley is a holistic Nutritionist, obsessed with helping millennials experience living at a higher level. Her relaxed new age approach and understanding of nutrition and wellness sees her empowering and coaching individuals to understand that their health is the ultimate asset. Here she is listing five simple, straightforward ways we can begin to wrangle our hormones back into a sweet balance.
Hormone Imbalance is all around us, women are suffering and living with endometriosis, PCOS, amenorrhoea, hormonally driven weight gain, a low libido, thinning hair and brittle nails, cyclical headaches and migraines, hormonally driven acne, vaginal dryness, fluid retention, PMS and painful periods – to name a dozen prominent symptoms. And trust me when I say, it’s not you – it’s your hormones.
What Is Hormone Imbalance?
It’s specifically the balance between, estrogen, progesterone, and androgens – like testosterone. Think of a see-saw, usually one hormone – estrogen or testosterone is up, and progesterone is down. But heck, sometimes the see-saw has been flipped and no one’s sitting on either seat. Everyone’s just standing around waiting for someone to fix the see-saw.
These crucial hormones influence our mood, energy, weight, sleep, passion, fulfillment, drive, and ability to live fully and optimally. Estrogen for example, when in excess will drive endometriosis, PMS, fluid retention, irritability, tender boobs, and heavy, clotty menstrual cycles. Estrogen is also, a natural antidepressant and is necessary for bone density.
Progesterone plays a role in maintaining our cardiovascular, nervous system, and bone health, as well as pregnancy and breastfeeding, directly. And indirectly, through balancing estrogen and androgens. When progesterone is low, estrogen increases, and the two act like a set of scales and balance one another.
Aromatisation is what happens when our androgens are converted into estrogen, and this is problematic. Androgens for women are important for creating muscle mass, bone health, and regulating mood. And in turn, our sex hormones are influenced by the external environment – such as the products we put on our skin, clean our homes with, plastics, etc. Our diet, with sugar and alcohol increasing estrogen, as well as other internal communicators, such as insulin increasing estrogen.
It’s one big interconnected web, and it can seem daunting to even know where to start so here are 5 simple, straightforward ways we can tackle hormone imbalance and begin to wrangle our hormones back into a sweet balance.
1. Eat your vegetables
Specifically – cruciferous vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables contain specific hormone metabolising compounds called glucosinolates. This family of glucosinolates is inactive, but when we chop or munch cruciferous veggies, their potent metabolites – isothiocyanates. Cruciferous vegetables also naturally contain methyl groups – that are able to donate themselves to our liver’s detoxification pathway, who then utilises them to metabolise and excrete excess sex hormones out.
We remove sex hormones via our liver’s phase 2 pathways, and then through our bowels and kidneys. Adding in arugula, bok choi, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, Chinese broccoli, Chinese cabbage, daikon, kale, kohlrabi radish, pak choi, and watercress – into your everyday meals are a 10/10 way to consistently be supporting your liver’s metabolism of these hormones, helping to restore balance.
2. Stay hydrated to balance your hormones
We need water to excrete excess hormones out of our bodies. A key and simple “rule” for water intake is your weight x 0.033. So say you weigh 70kg, 70 x 0.033 = 2.31L of water a day. Give or take with daily movement levels.
3. Omega 3’s impact on hormones
Specifically, ground flaxseeds (flax meal). Omega 3’s are anti-inflammatory, with a lot of hormone imbalances having inflammation at their core. Omega 3 fatty acids additionally suppress aromatisation; which is the conversion of androgens into estrogen. One specific 2013 study showed the beneficial reduction of testosterone and menstrual regulation in women with PCOS after consuming an omega-3 supplement for 8 weeks. An additional 2018 review presented the hormone balancing effects of flaxseed through its lignan’s being structured similarly to estrogen, blocking its receptors, and thus, decreasing estrogen activity. The review presents the findings in relation to the decrease in estrogen-driven breast cancers.
4. Limit alcohol
Before you hate me, hear me out. Alcohol is first and foremost, estrogenic. Increasing aromatisation. Secondly, it is a macronutrient, meaning it contributes to your energy intake. Fat cells – called adipocytes love to get together with estrogen, forming a pair-bonding of sorts. Our fat cells signal and release estrogen, which in turn, estrogen signals the creation and placement of fat cells, and round and round they go. So with alcohol, particularly premixes, rose and white wines, we put these two components together, and you have estrogen and adipose tissue increasing beverage.
5. Make time for you
Stress is a sure way to throw our sex hormones out of balance. Whether the stress is conscious or unconscious, physical, emotional, financial, environmental, futuristic, imaginary, or social – we almost always experience a degree of stress each day. Scheduling in your time is paramount to healthy hormones. Stepping more into Yin practices, where we slow down, go for a walk, read a nice book, cuddle on the couch, journal, meditate, go to a yoga class, practice breathwork, take a bath, do our skincare routines – whatever sits with you, make time for that.
It really does all add up to not only helping to decrease your stress and being in that sympathetic nervous system, but it also adds Love and self-care into your days, weeks, and months.
Serena Louth, women’s wellness expert, teaches how to unwind your body and mind and get a better sense of self
ESCAPADA: Chinese Medicine & Ayurvedic Retreat Founders Emilia Herting & Maeve O’Sullivan on health and wellbeing