How To Rebalance Hormones with Food
When we hear a woman say, “I’ve got hormone problems,” most people think, “Well, there are hormone treatments to help.” We are conditioned to think that apart from hormone pills and creams, not much else can help us regain our sacred hormonal balance. That is not the case, and food can play a critical role to get us back in balance.
Besides an obvious condition caused by hormonal imbalance such as low thyroid function or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, adrenal fatigue, estrogen dominance, infertility, PMS, menopause or PCOS, many common complaints such as cellulite, weight-loss resistance, depression, anxiety, insomnia, incontinence, body pains and aches, migraines and sagging skin are often the result of an undiagnosed imbalance of hormones and/or neurotransmitters.
Some women do need hormonal therapy to regain their health and sanity, but many start on hormones replacement therapy (HRT) and experience only partial improvement. Others may not even realize that many of their symptoms are related to hormonal imbalances, and health providers may not identify them as such. There actually are three underpinning body systems responsible for our hormonal well-being: the digestive tract, liver and pancreas.
Functional medicine sees the gut as the epicenter of our health. Common digestive issues such as bloating, constipation, gas, acid reflux, burping and Candida are so common that they are assumed to be normal, but they are not. These subtle symptoms are an indication of food not being tolerated and sufficiently absorbed. These chronic digestive issues can cause a spike in, a potent stress hormone and natural steroid that inhibits the production of progesterone and thyroid hormones.
One of the 500 functions our liver performs is to eliminate metabolized hormones. Bioidentical hormones and HRT still depend on the ability of the liver to clear out what was used by the body. A sluggish liver is not able to function efficiently, and this explains why we only feel good on hormones for a while, or perhaps not at all. The good news is that food can help.
The pancreas is a part of the endocrine system that produces the hormone insulin, which is needed to regulate blood sugar levels. Because insulin is one of the major hormones, it’s also impossible for your body to balance its minor hormones (estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, among them) until insulin metabolism is balanced. If we have hot flashes and are insulin-resistant, it’s going to be nearly impossible to cure the hot flashes without first healing the insulin resistance. The good news is that it can be reversed.
Some simple, diet-based solutions we can put into practice today to start supporting our hormones include eating a PFF (protein, fat and fiber) breakfast, identifying food sensitivities, supporting the liver, reducing toxicity and getting more sleep.
Using the PFF breakfast, the less sugar and fewer processed carbohydrates we have in the morning, the more stable our sugar levels will be throughout the day and the fewer sugar/coffee cravings and energetic dips we will experience. Click Here for the recipe to enjoy a PFF Chocolate Addiction Breakfast Smoothie
An elimination diet to identify the food culprits contributing to hormonal imbalance helps because is believed that food intolerances (different from allergies) are the biggest cause of digestive issues. The most common food culprits are gluten, dairy, soy, corn, eggs and sugar. It is recommended to adopt an elimination diet for four to six weeks by omitting these culprit foods and then reintroducing them one by one. This is the most effective and foolproof method to find out what food is the problem, and avoidance of these foods is key to restoring digestive health and hormonal balance.
We can support our liver by doing two things: cutting out the things that hurt it, like sugar, alcohol, non-organic food and excess coffee, and adding food and herbs that help with the detoxification process. These additions include: sulfur-rich foods such as onions, garlic and cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, kale, broccoli and cauliflower. Herbs like parsley and dandelion (both great to juice) are also liver detoxifiers.
We are bathed in a toxic environment every day, and these toxins impair hormone production, so it is highly recommended to eat organic food as often as possible. In addition, replace commercial skincare products and housecleaning products with cleaner brands or DIY products.
Eating dinner at 6 p.m. and going to bed at 10 p.m. are the best ways to tune into the circadian rhythm that governs hormonal balance. To help ease insomnia, cut down on sugar (especially at night), stop drinking coffee by noon and add magnesium citrate to calm the body down. Stress is also a big sleep-stealer, and must be addressed if we want to feel balanced.
Click Here for the recipe to enjoy a PFF Chocolate Addiction Breakfast Smoothie
Magdalena Wszelaki is a certified nutrition coach and the founder of Hormones Balance, a nutrition practice focused on rebalancing women’s hormones with nutrition and lifestyle changes. Learn more at HormonesBalance.com.