Let’s talk about hormone balancing! For one, it’s not a one size fits all approach and takes the utmost personalization for your specific body. But I think there are some general recommendations and advice that could work for all!
Hormone irregularities manifest in so many different ways. Sluggishness, fatigue, painful periods, lack of period, growing facial hair, changes in hair / nail texture – all of these could be signs of hormonal changes. Could be thyroid, could be estrogen/progesterone, could be cortisol, could be a combination, or could be many MANY different processes happening in your body. There are SO many different hormones in the body so I can’t stress enough that there is simply not one single plan that will work for everyone.
For a happier period and PMS symptoms, check out this post!
- What to eat:
- As many different colors as you can!
- Lots of water!!
- More unpackaged whole foods
- One serving (~2tbsp) healthy unsaturated fats at most meals
- ENOUGH protein (preferably not from conventionally raised animals, as these sometimes are treated with hormones, which can affect YOUR hormonal balance)
- CARBS are important!! Especially slowly digested carbs that contain a lot of magnesium and B vitamins (quinoa, brown rice, sweet potatoes, oats, fruits). These help establish normal levels are progesterone which is incredibly vital to hormonal health. The amount of carbohydrate will vary based on your specific symptoms (ie PCOS symptoms vs low progesterone symptoms).
- The best way to accomplish the above goals: COOK MORE! You ultimately have control of the ingredients when you’re in your own kitchen.
- What to be mindful of:
- refined foods when/where possible (aka packaged and prepared)
- sugar intake coming from white flours, pastas, refined sugars
- trans fats
- foods that don’t make you feel good! We all have complicated digestive systems, with slightly different sensitivities to food. Elimination diets can be really helpful if you’re not quite sure what you could be sensitive to. Gluten, soy, dairy, corn, garlic/onions, and nightshade vegetables tend to be common triggers.
- How you eat matters, too!!
- Consider your MINDSET during eating. Nearly a third of the nervous system is associated with the intestine. When calm, our digestive organs are relaxed and therefore more likely to be function optimally. Consider taking a pause before meals and feeling grateful for the food on your plate, or take ten deep breaths prior to starting eating!
- Eat slowly! This helps aid with digestion. Aim to chew 15-20 times before swallowing.
- Eating at generally the same times every day. The body really does work in a cyclical way and finding consistent times that work with your schedule helps to optimize hormonal health.
- Some Eastern medicine principles note that eating most foods warm (cold are harder to digest) is really helpful for hormonal health, too!
- A great rule of thumb: eat simple food when life is complicated. The more complicated your physical or emotional life, the most simple your food should be. Read more about that in my comfort food paradox post here.
- Avoiding fasting for TOO long, especially if you’re already at a baseline period stress. Fasting or time restricted feeding does put stress on the body, and if you’re already feeling tired or wired, this is probably not the best idea. Avoid fasting for longer than 12 hours at a time to be on the safe side. More about intermittent fasting in this post.
- Supplements (food first, supplements second)
- Per the wonderful ladies over at Indigo Health, a multivitamin, vitamin D, magnesium, and probiotic are typically great across the board (stress depletes them, so supplementing may be necessary in addition to what you get from food).
- Magnesium is great for calming , cramping, and constipation. If you need a little assistance with any of those, go for 400mg of magnesium glycinate prior to bed.
- Vitamin D is such a vital hormone that affects many bodily symptoms. I take 2000IU per day, ESPECIALLY in the winter. I also aim for 15-20 minutes of sun exposure per day at minimum.
- What to eat:
Sleep is so important for memory, hormone reset, lymphatic and plaque clean out, appetite, and even libido. A few tips to help with sleep below:
- Abide by a screen free zone for 30min to an hour before bed.
- Try reading before bed instead of television.
- Get daytime fresh air!
- Have your own personal evening wind down routine.
- Save alcohol for special occasions and aim to drink a little bit earlier so as to avoid disruptions in sleep cycle.
- Try to limit caffeine after noon and decreasing caffeine consumption during the day.
- A magnesium supplement before bed or CBD could also be helpful! Read more about CBD here.
Finds ways that you ENJOY movement! It doesn’t need to be an incredibly taxing class that makes you feel “dead” or “gassed.” In fact, for optimal hormonal health, high intensity exercise may not be the best throughout the entirety of the month. Listening to your body’s cues for when it needs rest or something more low impact is in fact scientific! During the ovulatory / follicular portion of your cycle, you feel energized and powerful, and maybe cardio or heavy weight lifting classes feel good during this time. But during the luteal and menstrual phase (right before getting your period), you may feel tired and in need of softer movement. Maybe walking, stretching, yoga, or tai chi feel more natural during this time.
Stress management is something that needs to be literally added to the to-do list every day. It may seem counterintuitive to TRY to not be stressed, but it’s an active daily practice. And it can be done at any time! When at a stoplight, on walk, brushing your teeth, listening to a song. There are so many small moments during the day to tune into what you’re doing and devote your undivided attention to it (aka mindfulness). Here are some other ideas:
- box breathing (inhale for 4 x hold for 4 x exhale for 4 x hold for for4),
- prolonging exhales
- heating pads
- start taking inventory of the WAY you talk to yourself. It matters! Notice what words and language you use and if it’s a way you’d speak to a loved one.
- orgasm hehe
- CC above to dietary changes that can also help with stress response
- supplements for stress support: magnesium glycinate, CBD (read more about CBD here)
- going to therapy
- walking outside barefoot
- overall: breathe, laugh, talk, move, hope, play!
Taking inventory of products
It’s not just what goes in your body, but what goes on it, too. The skin is our largest organ and it absorbs a ton! Start to notice which products you use in your day to day which could be endocrine disruptors, aka disrupt the hormonal processes. Make sure to READ INGREDIENTS! I also like the app Think Dirty to check on these.
- Endocrine disruptors
- Pots and pans / kitchen items
- Nonstick cookware
- To-go cups with hot liquids (they’re usually lined with plastic on the inside)
- Make-up/lotions/skincare products
- Plastic wrap
- Air fresheners
These five things can greatly help reestablish hormonal health! Any questions or contributions? Leave them below!
As always, this post is not aimed to prevent or treat! Ask your healthcare provider before making any diet, lifestyle, or supplement changes!!!