6 Ways to Balance Hormones Naturally
Are you irritable, moody, and exhausted? Experiencing low libido? Maybe you are already taking hormone replacement therapy but have unwanted inflammation or are having trouble sleeping? Are you gaining more weight than seems normal or concerned about diabetes? Your hormones are related to all of this.
While we always recommend seeing a functional medicine doctor to help balance your hormones naturally, we’ve provided 6 things you can do now to start getting your body back on track.
What are Hormones?
Our hormones – like estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, cortisol, thyroid, epinephrine, and melatonin – are critical chemical messengers that tell our body to do something specific. You can read more about specific hormones at John Hopkins: Endocrine System. Our hormones are all interrelated like a symphony. Disrupting one, causes the whole musical composition to become a cacophony of discordant sounds. Hormones are most often grouped into three main categories.
Cortisol and aldosterone, adrenaline, and noradrenaline are produced in the adrenal glands and provide critical function for much of your body including balancing your metabolism, blood pressure, immune system, and stress responses. The adrenal glands also affect your thyroid and sex hormones.
T3 & T4 are produced in the thyroid; TSH is produced in the hypothalamus (affected by cortisol) and tells your thyroid how much T3 & T4 to make. Thyroid hormones regulate your skin, hair, nail growth, internal temperature, and more.
Estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone affect and maintain sex drive as well as reproduction and maturation.
When you find yourself with an imbalance in any of these 3 hormone categories, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) will likely be suggested to you. But HRT typically does not address the root causes of hormonal imbalance. To get to the underlying causes, your functional doctor will perform a series of tests and sit with you for an extensive consultation to discuss your lifestyle and health issues.
You can then begin to work together on answering how to balance hormones naturally. The 6 areas to consider are food, drink, sleep, exercise, stress management, and supplementation.
How do I Balance my Hormones Naturally?
The number one way to balance your hormones naturally is with diet. Remove the bad stuff; add more of the good stuff! If you eat or drink too much sugar, your body will produce more insulin, more estrogen, or more testosterone throwing off your balance. When you eat more lean beef and fatty fish you add good proteins which will help you naturally balance your hormones.
Your functional doctor can provide you with a diet plan that is tailored for you.
It will likely include:
- High protein foods
- Healthy fats (like avocados)
- Fatty fish
- Lean meats
- High fiber
- More eggs
You may be advised to limit:
- Xenobiotics or environmental chemicals
- Foods with added hormones or antibiotics
- Refined or processed carbohydrates
- Sugar – even natural sugars in honey or maple syrup
Liquids can also help stabilize your hormones. Green tea is one of the best beverages because it provides theanine, which reduces the release of cortisol. Green tea can also stabilize insulin levels.
Reducing sugary drinks and alcohol will also have a positive effect on your hormone stability. Alcohol has the worst effect on your sex hormones.
Studies consistently show that insufficient sleep leads to a drop in leptin, insulin, cortisol, ghrelin and growth hormones. Without 7 – 8 hours of quality sleep you are interfering with the best life you could have; Healthline states that you are decreasing “fullness” hormones which then raise your hunger and stress hormones leading to insulin resistance.
Consider your bedroom temperature, quality of bedding, and the appeal of your bedroom. You should want to climb in bed! But it is advised that you get out of bed at a consistent time even on the weekends.
Avoid sleep hazards late in the evening such as blue light, eating or drinking anything right before bed, and exercising before bed. Do try to implement a pre-bedtime sleep routine which may include taking a hot bath or shower, reading or meditating, listening to relaxing music, dimming the lights and deep breathing.
Naturally regulating your hormones with exercise is free and requires only time and commitment. Your functional medical provider can help determine whether aerobic, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), or some other form of exercise will provide the best results for you.
Suboptimal testosterone levels in men are positively affected with HIIT according to Endocrine Connections, and the NIH points out that your risk of hormone related issues such as insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome can be reduced with regular physical activity.
5. Stress Management
If you are feeling stressed, you are not alone; the 2021 Stress in America Survey reports that 80% of Americans are feeling stress related emotions. This is a taxing time in our world and country. But you have the power to change how much stress you are feeling by managing how much cortisol your body is producing.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information reports that practicing meditation clearly affects stress responses. The APA suggests taking a break from media, allowing at least 15 minutes for self-care, recalling 3 good things from your day, staying connected to loved ones, and keeping things in perspective will all aid in stress management. Yoga and massage therapy also offer great benefits for stress reduction.
Finally, there are many supplements that can enhance the harmony of the hormone symphony. Though many looking to balance their hormones are tempted to start by grabbing supplements with labels promising to reduce inflammation or add energy, this is not the place to start! Remember that supplements are meant to be supplemental, and they are not going to enhance your thyroid or adrenal function if you ignore the 5 other recommended areas to improve your hormones naturally. Nevertheless, your functional medicine physician can personally guide you toward the best use of your resources in the area of supplements.
According to the Institute for Functional Medicine, 1 in 10 Americans has thyroid conditions, which means you have a very high chance that any number of your hormones are imbalanced. Bad habits, not bad luck, have caused many of these health issues. Your functional doctor at True Life Medicine is ready to help you learn how to balance hormones naturally. By taking time to care for and understand your health you can begin to live your True Life.