Hormonal imbalance is one of those tricky health issues that often goes unnoticed. We, especially busy mothers, chalk fatigue, mood swings, anxiety, bloating to just normal parts of life we have to deal with. But the thing is, just because something is common, like high stress levels or painful periods, doesn’t at all mean that it’s normal.
Unbalanced hormones can lead to …
- elevated blood sugar and high blood pressure
- infertility and conception problems
- wreak havoc on the female reproductive system
- chronic illness like diabetes,
- PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome)
- Anxiety and other mood disorders
Wonder if what you’re experiencing as “normal” is actually a hormone imbalance? Signs and symptoms of hormonal imbalance include:
- poor gut health
- stomach pains
- mood swings
- Trouble concentrating
So why and how do hormones get out of balance?
While there are a variety of reasons for developing chronic hormone imbalances, the biggest culprit always comes back to diet and external environmental exposures like skincare, cleaning products, air quality and drinking water.
The food you eat (and don’t eat) plays a huge part in how your body performs, functions and stays in or out of balance.
Diet and hormonal balance are inherently tied together. Think about it: food is fuel. Food makes your body function. It gives you the energy you need to pump blood, to build muscles, to get you out of bed in the morning. Without food, you couldn’t exist or function. So it follows that the right foods are key to functioning properly. Food is essential to getting the right kinds of energy, in the right context, and right amounts.
Food is what keeps hormones in balance. Food is the first line of defense. Yes, a multitude of factors contribute to hormonal imbalance — but food comes first. Food is what sends energy to trigger the release of hormones from glands into the bloodstream to various tissues in the body to do their jobs.
Bottom line: hormones can’t do their jobs without the right foods.
With external exposures, you add another level of possibility for hormone imbalances. Most commercially available skincare, beauty, and household cleaning products contain ingredients that are known endocrine disruptors. Which means, companies make these products with ingredients that we in the scientific community know can cause hormonal imbalance.
A few common skin care and cleaning product ingredients that are known endocrine disruptors:
BPA (found in plastic packaging)
For a deeper look at some of these, check out EWG’s Dirty Dozen Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals
5 Ways to Balance Hormones Naturally:
1. Eat a better breakfast. Breakfast cereal is not a balanced breakfast. For breakfast especially, you have to find a solid balance of nutrients. Carbs, fat, and protein. For my clients, we always start with vegetables at breakfast. Vegetables are packed with nutrients and carbohydrates that are slowly released as sugars and energy into the bloodstream. That slow release means a slow and steady increase in blood sugar and a slow but controlled release of the hormone insulin. Starting the day with something like a veggie scramble is a fantastic way to get your hormones firing properly first thing.
Some breakfast ideas include …
- veggie scramble with avocado and tofu
- avocado toast with mashed white beans, arugula, and pickled onions
- cauliflower hash with an egg
- 2. Eat smaller, regular meals. The more food you consume at once, the harder your body has to work to digest, absorb, and use for energy in the body. By focusing on smaller, more frequent meals, you allow your body to regulate better and release those essential hormones without a spike. It also allows you to notice certain changes and adjust your diet and lifestyle throughout the day to respond to any symptoms of hormonal imbalance you may notice.
- 3. Eat enough cruciferous vegetables. Cruciferous veggies include cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and kale. Cruciferous vegetables contain a phytochemical that helps the body detoxify excess estrogen in the body. It’s particularly helpful for women in reproductive years to consume these vegetables regularly. Always eat cruciferous veggies with some healthy fat like olive oil to help absorb the vitamins A, D, E, and K.
- 4. High-Fiber Carbohydrates. High-fiber carbohydrates can mean a lot of different things. Sweet potatoes, squash, quinoa, beans. Basically grains, root vegetables, fruits and legumes are all full of fiber. Having enough fiber in your diet is not only essential for hormonal balance, clearing excess hormones from the body, and regulating melatonin (sleep hormone) and cortisol (stress hormone) but fiber is also essential to a healthy gut microbiome which controls most of your immune system. It’s all connected! Aim for 1/2 a plate of non-starchy veggies at every meal and 1/4 of your plate high-fiber carbohydrates like grains or root vegetables.
- 5. Perhaps just as important as what foods to add to your diet are what foods to avoid for hormone balance. First, when buying your fruits and vegetables, do your best to avoid foods that contain pesticides. Pesticides act as endocrine disruptors and can completely mess up your hormone balance. Pesticides are especially harmful to the female reproductive system and studies have shown that just a small amount can lead to infertility or decreased fertility. Try to buy organic fruits and vegetables as much as possible. If you can’t, at least avoid the dirty dozen - the produce most likely to be contaminated. It also really helps to shop for produce that’s in season! Other foods to avoid for hormone balance: processed foods, alcohol, caffeine, fried foods, added sugars, soda. You know that list :) If you don’t want to completely eliminate these, limit them to just a couple of times each week and in small amounts to optimize hormone balance and keep the body functioning at a high level.
- Check your medicine cabinet, beauty products, and household cleaning supplies for known endocrine disrupting chemicals. Then make some swaps! C&The Moon is obviously a great place to start when looking for safe skincare products and most household cleaning products you can actually make yourself with vinegar, baking soda, epsom salts, cornstarch, and lemons!
- Adopt a meditation practice. Meditation and other mindfulness practices like breath work are an essential piece of the hormone balancing puzzle. If you’re constantly stressed (who isn’t these days?), your entire endocrine system is out of balance. A regular meditation practice can be the key to releasing that stress, tension, trauma, and allowing your energy to flow naturally. Start with 3-5 minutes daily simply sitting and counting your breaths. When you get comfortable with that, increase the duration (I personally find a sweet spot for myself and clients around 15-20 minutes of meditation) and let go of the counting and detach from any thoughts that may come up.
You can make a massive shift in your hormonal balance by adjusting your diet, being mindful of the products you bring into your home, and adopt a practice of mindfulness and meditation.
Brianna is a mother of four, functional nutritionist, and exercise specialist. She is the founder of the Food Therapy Method - an intuitive program for repairing your relationship with your food, body and mind helping women rediscover their innate healing powers to manifest wellness naturally.
The content provided in this article(s) is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical or other professional advice. Neither Carson Meyer nor C & The Moon LLC are liable for claims arising from the use of or reliance on information contained in this article.