In my travels, I encounter so many women struggling a variety of hormonal imbalances. Often we are too busy to make the seemingly difficult changes, so we adjust and think it's our new normal. PMS is not normal. But so few of us live without it, we expect it. I've come to believe that PMS is your body trying to tell you something. It's time to slow down is the biggest message. If we don't understand our bodies and the messages they are sending us, how can we even begin to make changes? In many ways, living with an hormonal imbalance is probably harder than the changes needed. Here are some of the general sign that you have a hormonal imbalance, and a few things that we must be aware of to help make changes.
Signs of Imbalances
~Changes in Weight, especially around the belly
~Low Energy, Fatigue
~PMS and other Menstrual Irregularities
~Low Sex Drive
~Skin troubles and Hair in Strange Places
~Just not Feeling Like Yourself
Five Things Necessary for Hormonal Balance
1. Blood Sugar Regulation
~Wild sugar levels affect everything, including your hormones. Your brain needs glucose to be stable in order to feed the brain. Unstable sugar can wreak havoc on the messages that the brain sends to thyroid, adrenals, as well as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. The pancreas, liver, and brain are the blood stabilizing organs in the body. Too much sugar and insulin resistance is an underlying cause of many hormonal issues. This is where good nutrition (and detoxifying) comes in, and paying attention to how a food makes you feel.
2. HPA Axis Regulation (Stress Reduction)
~We all know what stress can do to our outer lives, but imagine what it is doing to our insides. Some stress is good for us, but many us are in a state of constant "fight or flight," which messes with our adrenal and cortisol levels. The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is the hormonal control system in our bodies, which is how we respond to these stressors. Stress can come from gut issues, lack of sleep, and emotional/psychological factors. One imbalance that usually shows up is the body compensating at our hormonal expense (also known as pregnenolone steal). This happens as DHEA is sent down a wrong pathway from too much cortisol (or fluctuating levels). Stress management might be one of the hardest thing for people to do, but it is probably the first thing we all MUST do.
3. Gut Health
~If our gut is not working properly for various reasons (parasitic or fungal infections) or leaky gut (dybioisis), it causes inflammation. Inflammation will then suppress function of the hypothalamus, which in turn causes hormonal imbalance. There are a variety of ways to re-set gut health (probiotics foods for one). Healing your gut is a critical piece of addressing hormonal problems. It is so important that I am studying it as an additional course.
~Two words: Estrogen Disruptors. These chemicals interrupt the action of the active, natural hormones that our bodies produce causing hormonal consequences. We need regular ways to detoxify, including exercise and fiber (which helps pull the toxins out of our body). While the liver (and gallbladder) play the most important roles in clearing excess hormones from the body. Defects in detoxification cause hormones to become partially metabolized, blocking the action of active hormones. This is partially partially resposible for a common issue called estrogen dominance. In this condition, there is an imbalance between estrogen and progesterone. BPA (from plastic bottles) and phthalates (found everywhere, nail polish, shampoos, etc.) are examples of known estrogen disruptors.
5. Essential Fatty Acids
Fatty acids are precursors to substances called prostaglandins, which modulate our hormone receptor sites and our responses to hormones. The American diet is very high in Omega 6's. Omega 6's come from poor quality oil and packaged food, which cause more inflammation in the body. The ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 oils is what is important here. For example, women with more Omega 6's have been shown to have more androgens circulating in their blood. This is a contributing factor to PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), a major cause of infertility. Fish (if you eat it), fish oils, or other forms of algae are critical here.
Although each of these areas is interrelated, the single most common denominator for the majority of hormonal imbalance is STRESS. Physical, emotional, mental stress will have a deep impact on our wellness. Finding effective ways to decrease our stress is crucial to reclaiming hormonal balance and freeing ourselves from so many symptoms. This is just a SMALL overview of the issue. As I learn more about hormonal health, I will be sharing that valuable information with you.