August 14, 2017

Hormone Balancing

Hormone Balancing

After many recommendations for books regarding women’s health and hormone balancing, I decided to read a few and compile some highlights. I highly, highly, highly recommend reading these on your own. They are incredible resources to have on hand / in your hands. Most of the below notes are very general recommendations for hormone balancing. Keep in mind, in order to have the most effective protocol, you must work with a practitioner based on your own individual hormone levels. 

Taking Charge of Your Fertility (for a more comprehensive review of this book click here)

  • herbal supplements (vitex)
  • avoid trans fat
  • use more unstirred vegetable oils (nuts, seeds, cold water fish)
  • decrease saturated fats
  • choose slowly digested carbs (fresh foots and vegetables, whole grains, beans – rich in fiber, control blood sugar and insulin levels)
  • get plenty of iron from plants (spinach, tomatoes, beets, beans, pumpkin)
  • drink a lot of water to stay hydrated
  • take a multivitamin
  • achieve ideal body fat ratio (20-24)
  • exercise
  • stress reduction
  • sleep (at least 8 hours per night)
  • night lighting – small amounts of light (moon, night-light, digital clock) pass through eyelids while we sleep, which is picked up by the pineal gland – this gland produces melatonin, which directly affects the hypothalamus (center of woman’s universe) – s if you’re having problems with your cycles (irregularity, short luteal phases) you want to completely remove sources of light
  • avoid hormone disruptors (parabens in makeup and shampoos / phthalates in plastic)
  • dealing with thyroid disorders

Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life


  • eat mostly organic, whole, minimally refined, and freshly cooked foods. Include a lot of vegetables, grains, beans, some high-quality fats, and dairy (if you can tolerate it). Eat organic and very minimal meat, if you eat it, well cooked in small amounts.
  • Avoid highly processed, refined foods like packaged, prepared foods; white sugar; white flour products like bread, pastries, cookies, cakes, and too much pasta. And all trans fats
  • avoid very spicy food
  • avoid cold drinks with meals
  • eat at the same times every day, when you are hungry and calm
  • eat meals at regular times every day
  • eat in a calm, clean environment. If you are upset or distracted, you could eat perfect foods yet not digest them well
  • Eat only when you are hungry. If you never have a true appetite, increase your exercise, especially in the early morning, and take the following remedy a half hour before meals: thoroughly chew a thin slice of fresh ginger with a pinch of rock salt and spray of lime juice
  • eat the right quantity of food – eat 1/3 the capacity of your stomach, drink 1/3, and leave the rest empty
  • chew your food thoroughly. Take a deep breath and a moment of quite after swallowing your last bite and before going on to your next activity
  • eat most foods warm – cold food is more difficult to digest. If you are going to eat raw or cold food or drinks, it is best to consume them at midday or in hot weather, when the warmth of the atmosphere can support your digestive fire
  • enjoy drinks at room temperature, warm, or hot. Cold drinks hinder digestive capacity
  • consume organic foods and drinks whenever possible
  • eat simple food when life is complicated. The more complicated your physical or emotional life the more simply your food should be
  • enjoy mostly whole, freshly cooked foods including cooked grains, beans, vegetables, and some fruit. If you are too thin, favor more nourishing, heavy, dense foods like yams squashes, stews, some beans, dairy, and whole grains. If you are too heavy, face more lightening motivating foods like greens, light soups, some spices, some beans and less grains
  • enjoy beans, which have about equally nourishing and motivating. To make them more digestible, soak them in cool water overnight and then cook them until they are mushy, preferably with a piece of comb and with prices like cumin, coriander, or ginger.
  • When you eat heavy foods like grains, beans, diary or mashed potatoes or squashes, consider adding some turmeric, black pepper, and ginger to them in the cooking process.Cumin, coriander, and fennel are also suitable for most people.
  • eat a moderate daily amount of organic, non-genetical-engineered soy foods in forms that are easy to digest like tofu, tempeh, or miso cooked with fresh ginger.
  • Be a vegetarian or eat small amounts of organic meat. Be sure it’s organic, as any meat concentrates environmental pollutants more than dairy and much more than vegetables and fruits
  • Eat lots of veggies
  • Veggie sprouts, especially broccoli sprouts, are packed with vitality – eat 2-3 tbsp daily
  • eat some dark chocolate daily if you can tolerate it
  • use extra virgin olive oil and other cold-pressed high quality oils
  • have somewhere between a couple of teaspoons and a couple of tablespoons of fresh, ground hemp seeds, sesame seeds, or flaxseeds or oil daily – refrigerate and keep them in opaque bottles and do not heat or cook with them
  • use pots, pans and utensils made of stainless steel, cast iron, heat-resistant ceramic, glass, and/or wood to avoid toxic chemicals leaching into hot food and liquids
  • store your food in glass, ceramic, or stainless steel containers instead of plastic, to avoid estrogenic chemicals leaching into your food

things to avoid:

  • foods that cause digestive symptoms (gas, bloating, heartburn, intestinal noise, diarrhea, constipation)
  • frozen, canned or leftover food
  • refined sugar
  • cold food (harder to digest) unless it is in the middle of the day or in warm weather
  • raw food especially in the morning and evening 0 okay to have in the middle of the day or in summer
  • highly processed or fast foods and products made with refined white flour like pasta, white bread, cakes, pastries, cookies and breakfast cereals
  • highly processed or cold forms of soy (soy isolate powder, soy shakes, soy-based fake meats, or soy ice cream)
  • saturated fat and trans fat, and also deep fried foods – hard to digest
  • caffeine, specially in coffee – if you drink coffee, make sure it’s organic. Non-organic coffee is grown with chemicals that can disturb hormonal balance
  • alcohol 0 interferes with calcium metabolism, healthy breasts and sound sleep
  • phosphates – decrease calcium absorption (soda, alcohol, coffee, meats)
  • nonorganic meat, fish, and dairy and non0rganic food in general, especially if you are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • eating while anxious, upset, emotional, bored or distracted
  • eating on the go (disturbs digestion)
  • excessively spicy foods
  • heating, eating, or storing food and drink in plastic, especially if they are hot
  • using plastic wrap on your food


  • emphasize overall health over symptom management
  • have a daily routine – try to include the most important elements of life early in the day, before other events of life obstruct your efforts
  • have an exercise routine that is appropriate for your current condition – start by learning breathing techniques, then choose a 20 minute daily exercise routine that is good for you
  • include at least a little meditation or quiet contemplation in your daily routine
  • do warm oil self massage to calm the nervous system and lessen stress hormones
  • practice gentle breathing exercises (pranayama) if you are extra stressed. This has quieting effect on the nerves systems and balancing effect on the mind and hormones
  • learn how and when it is okay to cheat on your diet or in your lifestyle habits. As a general rule, cheat only a little and only when you feel healthy and rested. IN times of stress, we need to eat and live as well as possible
  • use discipline to achieve balance and then employ awareness to keep it there. don’t trust your cravings until you are balanced and healthy
  • digest emotions as you do food – buried, denied, or unprocessed emotions become mental toxic sludge in the same way that undigested food becomes physical sludge
  • end or improve any toxic or strained relationships, including the relationship with your self
  • respect your body’s natural urges: when you are truly hungry, eat. surrender to the pace and needs of your body
  • laugh
  • engage in mentally stimulating but not stressful activities
  • do less multitasking and give more full attention to one thing at a time
  • watch less than ten hours of television a week
  • avoid environmental pollutants like PVC products, BPA, phtlaates, and dioxins
  • avoid organic chemicals that have “chloro” as part of their name
  • have your local waste collection agency dispose of any insecticides and herbicides you may need to ge trip of
  • don’t burn household garbage
  • if you have to be exposed to environmental pollutants, surround yourself or your environment with houseplants like english ivy, gerber daisies, Madagascar dragon trees, pot chrysanthemums, and variegated snake plants
  • only put on your skin what you would consider putting in your mouth – avoid chemical-packed lotions from major department stores
  • only use cleaning and personal care products that you are sure do not include toxic chemicals in their ingredients lists

The Hormone Cure


  • high cortisol:
    • yoga (chant, deep breathe through the nose, cultivate presence and release clenched muscles, invert, do savasana)
    • eat dark chocolate
    • limit alcohol
    • wean from caffeine
    • get a massage once a week to once a month
    • chant daily
    • try acupuncture
    • do HeartMath
    • practice forgiveness
    • have an orgasm
    • practice gratitude
    • diaphragmatic breathing
    • relaxation response – quietly sitting for 10-20 minutes at time and paying attention to your breath. When the thoughts arise, practice just letting them go
    • progressive muscle relaxation
    • mindfulness based meditation
    • supplement: vitamin B5, vitamin C, phosphatidylserine, L-theanine, L-lysine combined with L-arginine, L-tyrosine
    • herbal therapies: asian ginseng, korean red ginseng, ashwagandha, relora, rhodiola
    • health risks linked to high cortisol: abnormal blood sugar, diabetes, prediabetes, obesity, increased body fat, metabolic syndrome, mood and brain problems, depression, alzheimer’s, MS, delayed wound healing, infertility and PCOS, worsening sleep, bone loss or menopausal women
  • low cortisol:
    • causes of low cortisol: primary adrenal insufficiency, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, secondary adrenal insufficiency, hypopituitarism, hypothyroidism, trauma, late stage of stress
    • get some exercise, perhaps african dance
    • develop a modular mind-set
    • 600-1000mg vitamin C per day + a good multi-B complex
    • herbal therapies: licorice, grapefruit juice

signs of cortisol balance:

  • you feel buoyant, positive and upbeat
  • you eat every 4-6 hours without feeling shaky, irritable, or low in blood sugar
  • when faced with stress, you feel like you can handle it
  • you sleep well at night and wake up feeling refreshed
  • you focus on problems you can modify, not the problems you can do nothing about
  • your blood pressure and fasting glucose (blood sugar) are normal
  • you have time to accomplish your tasks with pleasure
  • you recall where you put your keys most of the time
  • you are more proactive, and less reactive
  • you know how to calm yourself swiftly and effectively
  • at night, it takes about 20 minutes to fall asleep and you awaken 8 hours later feeling refreshed


  • low progesterone
    • reasons: aging, stress, little or no ovulation, low thyroid, high prolactin, endometriosis, endometrial precancer and cancer, anxiety, disordered sleep
    • vitamin C (doses of 750mg/day)
    • hang out with people
    • avoid caffeine
    • avoid alcohol
    • herbal therapies: chasteberry, bladderwrack, saffron

progesterone in balance:

  • you hardly notice your period until you get it – minimal PMS
  • you have regular periods, at least every 25 days, with no spotting or flooding
  • you weight remains stable throughout your menstrual cycle
  • every night, eight hours of sleep is a regular experience


  • high estrogen:
    • reduce canned food
    • eat from glass, stainless steel and ceramic containers
    • if you must use food from a plastic container or covered in plastic wrap, don’t microwave
    • look for natural alternatives to cosmetics, nail products, hair products, deodorants, and lotions
    • when you walk into your home, remove your shoes
    • buy shoes made from natural materials
    • wear organic-cotton clothing to prevent exposure to the pesticides and insecticides used in growing cotton
    • swap your pesticide-ridden sheets and mattresses for organic
    • reduce alcohol
    • cut caffeine
    • avoid xenoestrogens
    • eat less meat and dairy from conventionally raised animals
    • consume more prunes
    • eat more fiber (around 30-40g/day)
    • lose weight (BMI should be around 21-25)
    • exercise regularly
    • go to sleep by 10 PM
    • take DIM
    • herbal supplements: seaweed, resveratrol, turmeric, humulus lupulus (hops), melatonin

low estrogen

  • avoid coffee and other caffeine-loaded treats
  • cut out gluten
  • eat more whole soy
  • add flaxseeds to your meals
  • orgasm more
  • don’t exercise too much
  • eat pomegranate
  • take vitamin E (50-400IU / day)
  • take magnesium (400mg/day)
  • herbal supplements: maca (2000mg/day), Pueraria lobata / Pueraria minifica, rhubarb, St. John’s wort, black cohost, ghee, ginseng, hops, valerian root

signs of balanced estrogen:

  • you have regular periods
  • your joints and vag feel well lubricated
  • orgasm regains a central role in your life
  • you don’t feel stressed and overwhelmed
  • sleep is a part of your self-care regimen


high androgens (PCOS)

  • lose weight and exercise
  • eat foods with low glycemic index
  • eat lots of fiber
  • eat foods containing zinc – green beans, sesame and pumpkin seeds
  • avoid dairy
  • eat more protein
  • omit sugar
  • eat lots of omega-3 fatty foods
  • avoid omega-6 fatty acid foods
  • do yoga
  • acupuncture
  • avoid BPS
  • supplements: chromium (200-1000mcg/day), inositol (2g once or twice a day), vitamin D (about 2,000 IU / day)
  • herbal things: cinnamon (1/2 tsp per day), saw palmetto (160mg/day), tian gui


low thyroid:

  • copper (meats, poltry, and eggs are the best sources, as well as nuts, seeds, and grains)
  • zinc (need for conversation of T4 to T3) 20 mg/day with 2 g copper supplement
  • selenium – 2 brazil nuts per day or 200mcg/day
  • vitamin A: 5,000IU / day: chicken liver, raw carrots, and dandelion greens are great sources
  • iron: 50-100mg per day
  • soy isoflavones – two servings per week
  • raw brassica may decrease thyroid function so make sure you cook them – brussels sprouts, kale
  • vitamin D: liver and low-mercury fish like herring, sardines, and cod, and also sunshine

thyroid in balance:

  • stable weight
  • comfortable temperature hands
  • silky hair
  • pep in your step and sex life


  1. work with a trusted doctor
  2. consider testing
  3. isolate the primary problem
  4. identify antecedents, triggers, and mediators
  5. beware of endocrine disruptors

tips for hormonal success:

  • keep clear and realistic goals – break larger goals into small, concrete goals
  • eat like your great-grandparents
  • cut out the white stuff (refined carbs, sugar, sugar substitutes, flour and gluten)
  • track your food
  • shift to less calorie dense foods like apples and celery instead of rich, sugar and calorie dense foods like ice cream
  • go to counseling or coaching if needed for froth r accountability to understand the root causes of your eating issues and for emotional support
  • move more – walk 10K steps a day
  • know your baseline
  • learn your strengths
  • celebrate successes
  • take hormonal inventory (revisit questionnaires)
  • create accountability
  • make exercise non negotiable
  • be mindful in meditation
  • discover what inspires you
  • forgive yourself
  • plan ahead
  • be flexible
  • get your doctor on board
  • educate your friends

Woman Code

eating for your cycle:

follicular phase: plan lots of fun things since creativity and new beginnings characterize this phase; choose fresh, vibrant and light foods that make you feel more energized during this phase when all hormone levels are at their lowest – pressed salads, plenty of veggies, lean proteins, sprouted beans and seeds, and dense, energy-sustaining grains – light cooking methods like steaming or sautéing; try something new for exercise

foods: barley, oat, rye, wheat, artichoke, broccoli, carrot, lettuce (bibb, boston, romaine), parsley, green peas, rhubarb, string beans, zucchini, avocado, grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange, plum, pomegranate, sour cherry, black-eyed peas, green lentils, lima beans, mung beans, split peas, brazil nuts, cashews, lychee, chicken eggs, fresh-water clams, soft-shell crab, trout, nut butter, lives, pickles, sauerkraut, vinegar

ovulatory phase: connect with community; fill up on veggies with lots of fiber to aid in elimination of surplus estrogen and fruit with high levels of glutathione to support the first phase of detoxification in the liver; choose high-impact and group setting workouts

foods: amaranth, corn, qunio, asparagus, red bell pepper, brussels sprout, chard, chicory, chive, dandelion, eggplant, endive, escarole, okra, scallion, spinach, tomato, apricot, cantaloupe, coconut, fig, guave, persimmon, raspberry, strawberry, red lentil, almond, pecan, pistachio, lamb, salmon, shrimp, tuna, moderate alcohol, chocolate, coffee, ketchup, turmeric

luteal phase (week before your period): stave off sugar cravings through the consumption of food high in b vitamins; eat a good combination of calcium and magnesium in leafy greens to lessen fluid retention and bloating; eat a lot of fiber to help your liver and large intestine flush estrogen most efficiently through the bowel; consume natural sugars help with dip in estrogen that occurs in the second half of luteal phase that can make you feel irritable – roast or bake vegetables which increase the concentrations of those sugars so  the veggies taste sweeter; have adequate intake of complex carbs to stabilize serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain and help prevent mood swings ( 9 )

reach for these foods: brown rice, millet, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, collards, cucumber, daikon, garlic, ginger, leek, mustard green, onion, parsnip, pumpkin, radish, squash, sweet potato, watercress, apple, date, peach, pear, chickpea, great northern beans, navy beans, hickory, pine nut, walnut, beef, turkey, cod, flounder, halibut, mint, peppermint, spirulina 

menstrual phase: aim for low glycemic index and water rich fruits and vegetables; include seafood and sea-based veggies to help remineralize your body with iron and zinc, which you lose during menstruation 

reach for these foods: buckwheat, wild rice, beet, burdock, dulse, hijii, kale, kelp, kombu, button and shiitake mushrooms, wake, water chestnuts, blackberry, blueberry, concord grape, cranberry, watermelon, adzuki beans, black soybean, black turtle beans, kidney beans, chestnut, duck, pork, catfish, clam, crab, lobster, mussel, octopus, oyster, sardine, scallop, squid, banter tea, decaf coffee, miso, salt, tamarin 

organic food essentials:

  • fruits: blueberries, strawberries, apples, melons, pears, peaches
  • miscellaneous: celery, peppers, tomatoes
  • root vegetables: potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash
  • leafy green vegetables: all lettuces, kale, cabbage, spinach, other greens
  • animal proteins: beef, poultry, dairy, eggs (especially because these animals when not organically fed and properly pastured, are fed a diet of antibiotics, growth hormones, and genetically modified foods that will exacerbate your existing hormonal imbalance)

managing your blood sugar:

  • morning: immediately drink at least 8 oz of water upon waking; eat breakfast within ninety minutes of waking; don’t consume caffeine of any kind before eating breakfast; eat a protein rich food with breakfast; minimize carbs to 30g in the morning if you’re a slow burner
  • lunch: eat lunch within 3.5 hours of breakfast; consume the majority of your daily calories at lunch; try to consume only one complex carbohydrate (ex. brown rice or black beans but not both); incorporate at least one good fat food (avocado, olive oil, sunflower seeds) to keep blood sugar more stable and prevent you from a craving simple carbs later on in day; take a digestive enzyme to absorb as much nutrition as possible from your meal
  • midafternoon: snack within 2.5-3.5 hours after lunch; choose one that’s nutrient dense to keep you satisfied
  • dinner: eat within 2.5-3.5 of snack; create meal that consists of vegetarian or animal protein and raw / cooked vegetables ; avoid grains and sugar or any other kind; schedule so that you’re going to bed within 3.5-4 hours after the meal
  • cut out wheat and dairy: both dairy and wheat tend to slow transit time through the large intestine, which increases estrogen dominance because your body can’t clear that hormone form your system quick enough – recognize and understand your reactions to these foods

endocrine disruptors: skipped meals, excess sugars, too much alcohol, late-night carb overload

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  • Megan

    Girl!! This is so amazing! I love all the bullet points you use, it’s so helpful. Giving up coffee though… man that’s rough and I know I really need to do it. Good luck with school. You’re going to kick some ass, I just know it!

    • Katie

      Aw thank you Megan! Yeah beginning of no coffee for me was ROUGH! But it gets better. Thank you so so much for taking the time to read!

  • Margaret

    Thank you so much for this post! It came at the best time possible because I recently started to change my life even more in order to get my period back- it will be incredibly helpful!

  • Kennedy

    This is such a lovely resource to have. Thank you so much for taking the time to put your thoughts together like this!!! Also loving the orgasm positivity in this post, and the general attentiveness to sexual health as a lady

    • Katie

      My absolute pleasure! An every growing list and of course hormone balancing is so personalized, but at least it’s a start!

  • Kendra

    I love this post! It is SO cool how we can control our hormones through our lifestyle choices and external factors. Thanks for all effort and helpful information put into this; I can’t wait to start incorporating this knowledge into my daily routine!

    <3 Kendra

  • Nicole

    Have been following you on IG for months but just discovering this site for the first time and SO in love! One question for you– do you drink Starbucks coffee? I have read conflicting reports regarding whether or not it is organic so am curious what you’re thoughts are! Do you have a favorite type of coffee you can purchase in a grocery store? THX!! <3

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