Most of us are living life completely out of balance, plagued by many symptoms that we came to accept as “normal”. However, these symptoms can simply be signs of hormonal imbalance that can affects almost everyone in our society.
Hormone imbalances are widespread these days and many drugs are available to address this epidemic. However, we tend to think and treat one hormone at the time, ignoring the fact that hormones are like instruments in a large orchestra. When one instrument is out of tune or plays another melody, we end up with a cacophony. Similarly, when one hormone is out of balance or artificially supported with a medication, it affects all of the other hormones in this symphony. There are many “instruments” in this hormonal orchestra: adrenals, thyroid, insulin, and sex hormones.
Often women complain of feeling out of balance, tired, irritable, and depressed. Also, they experience muscle loss, poor sleep, memory difficulties, and sexual problems. They wonder if they need hormone replacement to feel better, or if there is a natural way to get their hormones in balance. Yes, most women can restore their hormonal function without medication as long as they address the underlying causes of this imbalance instead of suppressing the symptoms. Transitioning into menopause is normal but suffering through it is not!
Are women’s bodies breaking down?
No, of course not. Is this a genetic curse or bad luck? No, it is due to bad habits, such as drinking alcohol, smoking, eating a high-sugar and refined-carbohydrate diet, consuming dairy and gluten, having a sedentary life, being exposed to environmental toxins, and being chronically stressed. If you suspect that you may have sex hormones imbalance take the Menopause Assessment found at the top of this page.
What can you do to improve your symptoms?
1. Diet – Your Reset Button
Remove the bad - Imbalances in your hormones are triggered by bad food. Therefore, you need to remove from your diet the sugar, caffeine, alcohol, stress, and lack of exercise that contribute to your hormonal imbalances. If you eat sugar, you’ll produce more insulin, more estrogen, and more testosterone. Any type of flour and sugar can lead to these imbalances. Pesticides in our food can act like powerful hormone disruptors. If you are interested in knowing how these toxins disrupt our hormones, then read Our Stolen Future by Theo Colburn.
Dairy and gluten are often triggers for food sensitivity, inflammation and hormonal imbalances. Dairy is a big hormone disruptor because of all the hormones found naturally in milk, as well as the hormones and antibiotics added to milk. Even organic milk can come from pregnant cows, thus increasing the hormone levels. And last but not least, reduce or eliminate alcohol, including red wine, which causes elevated estrogen levels in the body and increases chances of cancer.
Put in the good - Eating a whole food, unprocessed, organic, mostly plant-based diet with organic or sustainably raised animal products, and drinking filtered water can improve your hormone balance. Try to incorporate certain foods like flaxseeds (1-2 tablespoons/day), cruciferous veggies, good fats, and traditional organic non-GMO whole soy foods (i.e., tofu, tempeh, miso, natto, and edamame) for added benefit.
2. Dietary Supplements
Start with good multivitamins, purified fish oil, vitamin D3 and an activated B complex to help balance estrogen. Most women need additional calcium and magnesium. Probiotics to calm the enteric nervous system, antioxidants and phytonutrients (i.e., vitamin E, resveratrol, curcumin, glutathione with NAC, green tea, selenium), and the anti-inflammatory omega-6 fat (GLA or gamma linoleic acid) can help balance sex hormones. You can find these and other hormone restoring supplements in our store.
Symptoms subside when you add movement to your day. Whether is going to the gym and doing weight training, joining a dance class, hiking, biking, and running or long walks, it will reduce inflammation and pain, improve mood and sleep. I often recommend my patients to do the 7 minute exercise which can be found on the Lumowell website. If 7 minutes seems too long and hard, start with 3 minutes and slowly increase to 7 minutes per day. Make sure that you do not over exercise and crash the next day.
Studies have shown that acupuncture can significantly decrease the hot flash frequency and severity anxiety and depression, and other menopausal symptoms, improving quality of life when compared to the no treatment control group.
5. Stress Reduction
Hormonal imbalance can be triggered or exacerbated by chronic stress. There are many techniques to help you reduce stress: prayer, meditation, yoga, tapping, therapy, or a creative or expressive outlet. It is best to finding something that you enjoy and works for you and stick with it. You will notice that your stress, anxiety, and tension subside.
6. Improve your Sleep
Insufficient sleep can adversely affect menopause, as well as causing inflammation, cortisol and insulin dysregulation. Getting eight hours of quality, uninterrupted sleep every night is one of the best things you can do to balance your hormonal levels.
7. Hormonal Replacement Therapy
For many decades, hormone replacement therapy was believed to be the fountain of youth until it was found that unopposed estrogen increased the incidence of uterine cancer eight-fold, as well as breast, and ovarian cancer, heart attacks, and strokes. Occasionally, there are women whose symptoms are unmanageable and for whom hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is necessary. Only a physician knowledgeable and experienced with bio-identical hormone therapy should prescribe them. If you believe hormone replacement therapy might be necessary for you, please discuss the pros and cons with your Functional Medicine practitioner so that you can make the most informed decision.