Signs of hormonal imbalance are so much more common in the modern age than ever before.
And since hormonal imbalances can masquerade as so many different issues one is not always sure what is going on. However, when your hormones are not balanced you just feel off.
Sometimes signs of hormonal imbalance are so subtle that it’s hard to know what’s causing the problem. Your hormones regulate functions throughout the body, and each hormone triggers a cascade of events.
So one hormonal imbalance can actually cause other hormonal imbalances and the effect can be felt in many organs of the body.
And to make matters worse, some hormonal imbalances if not checked can lead to some serious consequences.
Hyperthyroidism and Hashimotos for instance are serious hormonal imbalances that require appropriate management in a timely manner to avoid many serious health problems.
Some signs that you may have a hormonal imbalance may present as signs of aging and so we tend to dismiss such and think, “Well, I am not as young as I used to be “. But if you have found yourself walking into a room only to ask yourself, ” what did I come in here for?”
Or perhaps you find that pounds upon pounds have piled upon you, and you are not very successful in shedding them off in spite of doing all the right things you may be suffering from hormonal imbalance.
Perhaps, you find yourself tossing and turning when you go to bed struggling to sleep night after night. Maybe, you are just a tad bit more snappy, moody, and irritable. And who wouldn’t be if you can’t sleep well, and/or are weighed down by bloat and other uncomfortable bodily issues?
If you are experiencing such problems, you may have hormonal imbalances.
Signs and symptoms of hormonal imbalance
In this modern world of fast-paced living and increased stress, a world where food comes in packages, things pass for food that really shouldn’t have that name, and countless hours are whiled away gazing at tiny screens, indoors, many health issues are becoming the norm, sad to say.
One such health issue is hormonal imbalance, a condition that many suffer from and some may not even be aware of.
Sometimes we take it as just the normal course of aging, or the condition of being female.
But we can fight hormonal imbalance.
Perhaps, ladies, we don’t have to suffer so very much. Maybe those PMS episodes don’t have to be so horrid, and those hot flushes can be minimized or avoided.
During one’s lifetime, hormonal fluctuations can be expected, during such times as puberty, pregnancy, and menstruation, and during perimenopause and menopause.
Still, there are times when hormonal balance can be tipped over by various other causes other than these naturally expected parts of being female, growth, development, and aging.
But first, what are Hormones?
Hormones are chemical messengers produced by the various endocrine organs or glands in the body. These organs and glands are referred to as the endocrine system.
There are also some hormones that are produced by other tissues that normally are not classified as endocrine glands. These include the GI tract and the GI Mucosa which produce hormones such as gastrin, gastronome, secretin, and cholecystokinin, important for digestion.
The Kidneys also have an endocrine role as they produce erythropoietin, a hormone important for blood cell synthesis.
Each hormone plays a specific role in the body directing various body functions. Some hormones also work in concert with the nervous system which affects the function of organs such as the kidneys and the heart.
The brain endocrine communication for example regulates mood, stress levels and responses, energy and metabolism as well as energy balance, influencing weight, and even sex drive.
However, the well-orchestrated hormonal activity can sometimes get out of work leading to a cascade of events throughout the body.
When the choreography of these orchestrated hormonal relationships gets messed up, and some hormones run amok while others fall off the rails, a hormonal imbalance state then exists.
This, in turn, causes metabolic dysfunction and other health problems.
What causes hormonal imbalances?
There are many causes of hormonal imbalance, some due to the natural processes of growing, becoming, and changing at various stages of life.
However, some imbalance is due to lifestyle choices, and at times due to other medical issues, procedures, or medications.
Some medical conditions such as PCOS, or cancer, can cause hormonal imbalances but then these conditions can also be caused by hormonal imbalances. It is the case of the chicken and the egg, which came first?
But let’s look at some specific causes of hormonal imbalance and why they throw off the harmony of our hormones.
We are exposed to hormonal disruptors every day.
And the more you look into it the more you get shocked to learn that so many things we eat, and use to clean ourselves, and our homes contain hormonal disruptors.
The truth is we live in a toxic world where xenoestrogens are everywhere around us.
From the feed of the animals that provide us meat, the dairy cows and chickens grown with growth hormones, GMO plants, household cleaners that are toxic, our personal care products, our use of plastics to store and heat food, drinking bottles, nail polish and polish removers all increase our total toxic burden.
So it’s time consumers get wise and educate themselves about the things they eat, use, and put on their skins.
To think that even the mattresses we use also have toxins.
The water we drink may also contain fluoride levels much higher than it should have.
All these and more lead to hormonal imbalances.
Increased stress levels
Sadly many women live and enormous stress trying hard to balance careers and home.
Even a woman without children can still find herself having increased stress from many factors such as job-related stress, relationship stress, and other everyday factors.
Per research published in the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and metabolism, the level of various hormones changes in response to stress.
And when progesterone levels are not in balance with estrogen, there is a balance that causes irregular periods, mood swings, sleep disturbances, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and weight gain.
In a stress situation, there is increased secretion of glucocorticoids, catecholamines, growth hormones, and prolactin research states. And these are needed to mobilize energy resources in the body including increased glucose to meet the crisis at hand.
Cortisol plays a major part in stress situations through the activation of the pituitary-adrenal axis, our neuro-endocrine response center. When this axis is activated, the hypothalamus releases corticotropin-releasing factor, which stimulates the pituitary to release the adrenocorticotrophin hormone and 3-endorphin (source).
What’s even worse is that the level of these hormones can increase 2-5 times their normal levels during stress. So you can see how bad stress is for hormonal balance especially when stress is sustained for a long time.
This stress response activity was designed to be a very short-lived situation like when you may have needed to fight a marauding tribe or animal in the jungle. But we live stressed every day in modern times. And this leads to continuous activation of this stress fight or flight pathway leading to hormonal imbalance.
Other lifestyle factors that can influence hormone balance include food choices. Do you only eat organic pesticide-free foods? That’s hard to do and not to say, expensive.
Mostly many people eat foods high in simple sugars, GMO foods, and foods high in the wrong kind of fats such as too many omega-6 fatty acids. These food choices in many cases are also loaded with hormonal-disrupting toxins including pesticides.
Let’s take a look at some specific foods and their effects on hormonal imbalance.
Sugar: Sugar is one of the biggest hormonal imbalance offenders. We are inundated with sugar in our societies today and sometimes sugar is hiding in places people don’t think to look like ketchup, yogurt, dressings, various drinks including orange juice, and many foods touted to be healthy.
And don’t even think about the diet substitutes. These cause the liver to store fat eventually causing metabolic syndrome and hormonal imbalance. But back to sugar. When you consume so much sugar insulin imbalance is the end result.
Why does insulin imbalance happen?
Well, the pancreas is forced to pump out so much insulin to usher all that sugar into the cells until the cells are flooded with insulin and they just decide they do not have it anymore. They ignore all that sugar.
The result? Sugar then just floods the blood with nowhere to go. So if predisposed, you become diabetic. But that’s not all. The liver will take some of that sugar and store it as fat because excess insulin tells the liver to store the sugar as fat. And that leads to obesity inflammation and even more metabolic problems.
What’s even sadder is that we have been sabotaged by sugared food companies for so long that it is a way of life. Sugar is an addictive drug so the more you eat t the more you crave it.
Start cutting back on sugar and become informed/ Check the food labels diligently and claim back your hormone health.
Lack of enough sleep
How much sleep do you get and when do you sleep?
Too much or too little sleep or none at all can impact hormonal health. A 2015 study published in the Journal of Endocrinology, found that the duration of sleep and sleep quality affected several hormones’ metabolism.
The study found that reduced sleep affected your hunger hormones ghrelin leptin, which meant that if you stayed up late, you are likely to feel hungrier and eat more. The result is obesity, metabolic syndrome, and chronic illnesses like diabetes.
Also, lack of sleep like in shift work was associated with lower melatonin levels and also lower cortisol. So if you feel tired yet cannot sleep well, this may be the reason. And what’s even scarier is that these two hormonal imbalances may exert a carcinogenic effect (source).
And also reduced sleep quality and quantity also disturbed glucose metabolism. The research found that a disturbance in REM sleep led to insulin sensitivity even when sleep duration was not changed. And that’s why we must follow good sleep hygiene to sleep well, and deeply.
Excess exercise can cause increased stress hormone, cortisol.
While exercise is good, extreme exercise is not, especially when nutrition is not sufficient, then one can lose too much weight and this leads to decreased sex hormones (androgens).
Sex hormones such as testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen hormones require some fat to be produced.
They are steroids and their synthesis requires the presence of cholesterol.
So it is important to exercise in moderation, and not go to either extreme so as to have hormonal balance.
Read Next: Reasons why you are not losing weight
Adrenal take over
In midlife, increased cortisol and low progesterone accompanied by estrogen dominance can cause adrenal takeover.
This, in turn, leads to low energy, low libido, and low immunity, as well as muscle weakness, sleep disturbances, and a rollercoaster of symptoms including mood swings.
Gut health Issues
Problems with gut health including leaky gut and a poor state of beneficial bacteria in the gut can lead to inflammation response. In other words, increased inflammation in the gut causes a leaky gut, another factor that leads to hormonal imbalance.
Read more about signs of a leaky gut in this article.
Sometimes these gut issues can contribute to food allergies and inflammation-causing systemic effects including hormonal imbalances.
Furthermore, the GI tract sometimes also acts as an adrenal organ producing hormones such as Ghrelin, your hunger hormone, and as part of the nervous system producing serotonin, that all-important neurotransmitter that provides a tranquil mental state. So you can see how important it is to maintain a healthy gut which will help your hormones be in harmony.
Therefore make sure you are eating healthy gut foods to promote gut health. There is much healthy gut food including yogurt( avoid sugared yogurts, kefir. You can also supplement with probiotics such as Ultimate Flora, or digestive enzymes such as papaya enzymes to help keep your gut happy and your hormones balanced.
The best foods for leaky gut
How to heal a leaky gut and signs of a leaky gut
Hormonal Replacement Therapy-HRT
Needless to say, a few years ago, HRT was a bit overdone and led to hormonal imbalances affecting progesterone and estrogen balance.
While HRT can still be beneficial sometimes, most practitioners now are more cautious and more informed of the dangers of HRT.
Too much estrogen without progesterone causes more problems, including breast cancer.
Look into natural methods and lifestyle changes to keep your hormones balanced. Try and consult a natural medicine doctor as well.
And remember always consult your doctor before starting any regimen even if it is natural herbal or plant-based. Some of the most potent medicines are plant-based.
Signs of hormonal imbalance
So what are the specific signs of hormonal imbalance?
Well, truly, signs of hormonal imbalance are many.
Sometimes it is even difficult to pinpoint the problems because there can be many causes of symptoms and some signs and symptoms of different imbalances are the same.
For example, weight gain can be caused by insulin resistance, hypothyroidism, cortisone imbalance, increased estrogen, or too much ghrelin, while symptoms such as mood swings and depression, and anxiety/ irritability can be caused by high thyroid, or hyperthyroidism, low estrogen, high cortisol, diabetes, or low vitamin D which can also affect mood.
Signs and symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance
1. Fatigue, a foggy mind
2. Mood swings, depression, anxiety, and restlessness
3. Sleep disturbances
4. Low libido, virginal dryness
5. Gastrointestinal problems; Diarrhea, bloating, constipation
6. Weight changes
7. Dry skin
8. Thinning hair and hair loss, or hair on the face
Signs and symptoms of female hormonal imbalance include the above as well as the following:
10. Irregular periods, heavy periods, Amenorrhea(lack of periods not related to menopause), PMS, infertility, miscarriages, and abdominal cramps.
Hormone functions and specific signs of Imbalance
The adrenal glands produce epinephrine and norepinephrine, within the inner section called the medulla, while the cortex produces more than 30 hormones but the main ones are mineral corticoids, glucocorticoids, and androgens and all these hormones are steroids.
Adrenal glucocorticoid hormones are responsible for stress response and are necessary for survival.
Without cortisol, one cannot survive.
Cortisol regulates metabolism and controls the inflammatory response. If there is too much cortisol it stimulates the production of glucose by the liver, promotes protein breakdown, and increases the mobilization of fatty acids, which are used for energy instead of glucose.
Then the use, of peripheral glucose falls, and glucose levels rise leading to insulin insensitivity.
Immunity is also affected when a reduced inflammatory response function is induced, and if this scenario goes on for a long time, adrenal insufficiency can occur.
Another form of the adrenal malfunction is called Cushing’s Syndrome which results from excess glucocorticoids. This can occur due to a pituitary tumor. Or adrenal tumor or from the administration of steroid drugs.
Signs and symptoms of Cushing’s or elevated cortisol levels
- Altered fat metabolism with fat deposition on the shoulders causing a hump
- muscle wasting,
- muscle weakness in the hands and legs
- Thin skin, stretch marks over the stomach,
- brittle bones compression fractures, and osteoporosis,
- excess potassium excretion and sodium retention leading to hypertension
- to infections,
- gastric ulcers,
- hirsutism,*(Hair on the face) acne,
- menstrual irregularities,
- excess emotional instability including psychosis.
- And stress, or impaired ability to respond to stress
Thyroid hormones are produced in the thyroid gland, a butterfly structure located in the lower neck. The thyroid gland produces three hormones: Thyroxine(T4), Triiodothyronine(T3), and Calcitonin.
Perhaps thyroid hormones are the most important hormones in the body. It is no exaggeration when the thyroid gland is referred to as the master gland because thyroid hormones control all cellular metabolic activity in the body. They have a hand in almost everything that is going on in the body. The T4 maintains a regular steady metabolic activity. And T3 is about 5 times as potent as T4 and performs more rapid metabolic work.
These hormones increase all body processes that require oxygen consumption and alter the tissue’s responsiveness to other hormones.
Thyroid hormones also influence cell replication, brain development, normal growth, metabolism, protein synthesis, and influence every major organ system.
And that means an imbalance in thyroid hormones will change nearly every function in the body and left untreated thyroid imbalance can be catastrophic.
Thyroid hormone secretion is controlled by TSH from the pituitary gland, which controls the rate of thyroid hormone release.
A Malfunction in thyroid production or improper stimulation from the pituitary can cause a thyroid imbalance in the form of either too little or too much as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism respectively, and the signs and symptoms of either are unpleasant and a health problem.
This can happen on a spectrum from mild to extreme. The mild form is uncomfortable with constipation, cold intolerance, weight gain, sluggishness, coarse hair, and dry skin, but can also include myxedema coma a systemic fluid overload that can lead to death.
The most common cause of hypothyroidism is an autoimmune known as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Hypothyroidism can also be due to treatment with radioiodine to treat hyperthyroidism. Or due to surgical removal, or radiation therapy for head or neck cancer.
Signs and symptoms shown are due to a slowing of metabolic functions.
- Muscle aches. These symptoms can easily be mistaken for other causes
- Loss of libido amenorrhea
- pleural, and pericardial effusions–fluid in the lungs and heart
- Hair loss, brittle nails, dry skin
- numbness and tingling in fingers and nerve entrapment syndrome( Carpal Tunnel)
- Slow speech, subdued emotion response
- cold intolerance, thick skin,
- abnormal breathing
- weight gain,
- thinning hair, alopecia,
- swollen eyelids, pitting edema, – a puffy appearance due to fluid accumulation to the face.
- bradycardia, hypotension,
- lethargy, and
- Cardiovascular collapse and shock can occur in extreme cases
- In advanced stages, personality changes can occur including cognitive changes, like dementia
- sleep apnea
- elevated cholesterol
Hyperthyroidism is the second most prevalent endocrine disorder after diabetes and occurs due to the overproduction of T4 and T3 from the thyroid gland. This overproduction leads to an elevated metabolic rate.
This leads in turn to many symptoms some due to elevated catecholamines(epinephrine and norepinephrine) Oversecretion also leads to an enlarged thyroid gland and a goiter.
Graves disease is the major cause of hyperthyroidism. It is an autoimmune disease due to antibodies binding to TSH which leads to increased production of T3 and T4.
Another cause is inflammation of the thyroid or Thyroiditis, thyroid nodules, or synthetic thyroid medication.
Typical hyperthyroidism signs are due to the hypermetabolic state. Everything just runs fast and high with the basal metabolic rate sometimes increasing 60-100% above normal.
Signs and symptoms of a hyperthyroidism
- Nervousness and irritability
- weight loss despite increased appetite
- increased heart rate(tachycardia)
- shortness of breath, palpitations
- excessive sweating
- muscle cramps
- heat intolerance
- fine tremor
- bulging eyes\ (ophthalmopathy
- thin hair and skin
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreatic beta cells and aids the cells to use glucose for energy.
Insulin in the homeostatic ( balanced state) increases when blood glucose increases.
In type one diabetes, the beta cells produce no insulin whatsoever while in type two, normal or subnormal production may occur but the cells are not responsive to it.
So, the pancreases increase the production of insulin trying to meet the demand for increased blood glucose until they get exhausted and stop insulin production altogether. Insulin resistance leads to hyperglycemia and diabetes.
Insulin is a fat-storage hormone and an imbalance causes fat accumulation around the belly. This can lead to metabolic syndrome, increased cortisol, and androgen imbalance, and contribute to PCOS.
The reasons for this imbalance can be due to a diet with too much processed foods, stress, sleeplessness, or even sickness. But in type 1, the problem is not diet-related but beta cell malfunction.
Insulin resistance is a serious problem that leads to systemic health issues including problems in the nervous system with neuropathy and even mental changes at times.
Studies have shown that insulin resistance and diabetes are also associated with an increased risk of cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. So these are all the more reasons to strive to streamline our lifestyles.
Related: How to boost your metabolism and lose weight
Signs of insulin Imbalance
- Obesity, increased waist circumference
- excessive blood sugar
- skin changes-hyperpigmentation
- Increased LDL and low HDL
- Hypertension, arterial plaques(atherosclerosis)
- hyperandrogenism and PCOS
- protein in the urine,
- increased uric acid
- and metabolic syndrome.
A major factor that leads to metabolic syndrome that can lead to diabetes type 2 is obesity. Approximately 80 to 90 percent of people with DM 2 is are overweight.
Being overweight can increase insulin resistance and impair suppression of insulin production by the liver as well.
This risk is especially high in people with central obesity or obesity around the stomach.
Estrogen is one of the female hormones produced by the ovaries.
Some small amounts of estrogens are also produced in the adrenal cortex, and androgens can be converted to estrogen, especially in fat tissues.
There are three types of estrogens E1, E2, E3. E2 or ESTRADIOL Is the most potent and most abundant in the body.
Estrogens are important in the growth and development and maturation in females, but apart from that, estrogen is important in other metabolic functions as well.
They include maintaining the normal structure of the skin, and blood vessels in women.
Estrogen also decreases the rate of bone loss by preventing the parathyroid hormone from mineralizing( taking the calcium from bones into the blood)the bones. So you can see how one hormone controls the action of another.
Estrogen also increases the synthesis of protein in the liver for transporting other hormones, including estrogen, thyroxine, testosterone, and many others.
Estrogens produce an increased of HDL, lower LDL, and reduce cholesterol levels, and this explains why in menopause women start gaining weight as their estrogen levels diminish.
Estrogens have cardioprotective effects too.
They prevent plaque buildup on arterial walls, prevent clot formation as well as have an antioxidant effect.
They improve glucose metabolism, have an effect on insulin levels, and a direct effect on heart function, a protective effect on cognitive function and memory. Studies have shown a decrease in cognitive function in women who have had an oophorectomy( removal of ovaries) before menopause.
Estrogen also promotes nerve function and signal transmission by increasing the production of neurotransmitters and receptors.
Also, according to this study, it was found that unbalanced estrogen metabolism can lead to ovarian cancer.
This type of cancer is usually fatal due to the late stage at which it is normally diagnosed, the study states. So yes estrogen is a powerhouse hormone in overall women’s health.
Signs of Estrogen Imbalance
There are many signs and symptoms of estrogen imbalance ranging from uncomfortable to serious health issues such as breast and ovarian cancers.
Estrogen imbalance is heavily implicated in ovarian and other hormonal imbalances and breast cancer diagnoses.
They include Fluid retention, memory problems, heavy periods, varicose veins, PMS, anxiety, low sex drive, vaginal dryness, heart problems, increased weight, irregular periods, hot flashes, sleeplessness, and even cellulite.
Progesterone is the other ovarian hormone that is produced during the second half of the menstrual cycle by a structure called the corpus luteum. Its main aim is to prepare for conception and to support the maintenance of pregnancy.
When there are high levels of progesterone ovulation cannot occur.
In a well-orchestrated concert, several hormones work together with the coordination of the Hypothalamus, the pituitary, and the ovaries.
GnRH is released from the hypothalamus which stimulates the release of FSH which stimulates the follicles to make estrogen. When there is enough estrogen, then estrogen stimulates FSH to stop stimulating the follicles, and LH is released from the pituitary.
The Luteinizing hormone then stimulates the corpus luteum to make progesterone. The role of progesterone help thicken the endometrium and relax the uterine muscles in case of pregnancy so as not to contract to avoid expelling the newly fertilized egg or fetus.
Progesterone in this relaxation can cause some problems.
Yea, you can thank progesterone for those discomforts you have endured midcycle or during pregnancy such as edema, nausea, constipation, flatulence(yikes), and not cool at all.
So, don’t blame a woman who lets loose occasionally if, of childbearing years, she probably can’t help it. And heck, if she is pregnant, she can’t help it, plus many other things she can’t help. So, forgive any outcomes of this relaxed state.
Signs of Progesterone Imbalance
If progesterone is low, one may experience frequent miscarriages, irregular or missing periods, abdominal discomfort, and sleep problems.
Also, this means that estrogen is high or dominating and that can, in turn, lead to all the problems of high estrogen such as low libido, weight gain, and weak fragile bones, mood swings, and many more.
Make sure to seek medical help and get an evaluation if you suspect low progesterone and especially if you are trying to conceive.
It turns out that even women produce and need testosterone. Who knew! The ovaries produce not only estrogen and progesterone but also androgens, these androgens which include testosterone are responsible for female sex drive and hair growth.
An imbalance can cause dysfunction in these areas. If too high excess facial hair can occur and that annoying acne can be a constant companion.
Leptin and ghrelin
These are the hunger and satiation hormones, which can be to blame for the extra pounds. .Leptin is a hormone predominantly produced in the fat cell(adipocytes). Leptin has a great effect on metabolism. Leptin is a hormone predominantly produced in the fat cell(adipocytes). Its role is to signal and let one know “hey That’s enough food already, stop eating, okay?” Read more about Leptin and Ghrelin’s role on metabolism here.
Leptin also influences the neuroendocrine system, the physiological system including the sympathetic nervous system, the central nervous system even the cardiovascular system this study shows, and that leptin is also implicated in the pathogenesis of obesity.
According to a study published in the American Physiological Society, leptin contributes to energy balance in the body as well as neuroendocrine function, metabolism, immune function, and bone metabolism. So as can be expected, a deficiency or malfunction in leptin leads to dysfunction in these areas. Sometimes it is a congenital deficiency and it can be partial or complete.
A deficiency leads to impaired messaging when it comes to knowing when one is full and therefore overeating.
The good news is one can have it administered and can correct most of the problems. The irony is obese people may have lots of leptin as it is produced in fat cells, but as in the case of insulin insensitivity, they have leptin insensitivity and so treating them with leptin is not helpful.
This is your hunger hormone which influences food intake with the aim to keep energy balance.
Ghrelin is produced in the stomach and its levels are high just before meals. Ghrelin receptors are also found in many areas of the brain important for feeding control such as the hypothalamus and energy centers as well as the reward centers such as the ventral tegmental areas of the brain which explains that great feeling you feel after a great meal. It’s a signal from your reward center.
Ghrelin is also found around the dopamine neurons of the ventral tegmental areas in the brain. By targeting these areas ghrelin can use food reward-related behaviors.
This ghrelin signaling at the level of the reward system shows the gut-brain reward system connection research shows.
Ghrelin is also shown to increase in cases of some psychological stressors as well.
This is likely to give one energy to face the situation, however in our modern world where we face our dangers sitting mostly, this just works against us as we are forced o consume more calories, and we do not expend that energy. So obesity happens.
Natural Remedies for hormonal imbalance
The good news is that there are natural ways including lifestyle choices that can help prevent or reduce the unpleasant s/s of hormonal imbalance.
One best ways is to control your food choices. Including these foods in your diet can help to balance your hormones.
#1 Eat Healthy Fats
Replace vegetable oils with saturated fats. Say What?! Yes, you that right.
It turns out all the hype about ditching saturated fats was wrong and not really the way to go especially for hormonal health. Studies are showing that some saturated fats such as butter from grass-fed cows are good for you.
The thing is, most hormones are made from cholesterol so we cannot completely stay away from saturated fats.
So, a good cut of red meat, or, the liver can be great. I know you may be thinking, “eeew!” about the liver, but it really is nutritious and good for your hormones.
Other good fats for hormonal health include coconut oil and avocado oils. Coconut oil, especially extra virgin coconut oil is great for balancing hormones and may help with thyroid problems.
Research shows a diet high in PUFFAs such as omega 3 fatty acids can delay ovarian aging as well, and we know how important the ovaries are in the role of estrogen production and reproductive health.
There are many sources of Omega 3 fatty acids. Use olive oil. The good old olive oil- cold pressed is best. Best if not heated. It is best if used in salads.
Oils from the PUFFA, group, are especially great not only for hormonal health but also help in many health functions including mental health in areas of anxiety and depression. Read more on Omega 3 fatty acids and anxiety here. Foods like fatty fish such as wild salmon, and Mackerel, can provide your daily omega-3 needs.
Also, including nuts such as walnuts, in your diet and seeds such as flax seeds will help in this endeavor as well, as they are high in omega 3 fatty acids.
Omega 3 fatty acids, also improve thyroid function research has found, and can even reduce fertility issues too, this research shows.
#2 Use medicinal adaptogens- herbs and plants that help the body adapt such as the following:
Ashwagandha has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for more than 2500 years and for good reason. It has many medicinal benefits such as anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, immunomodulatory effects, antibacterial, and antistress effects according to this study.
It also helps with thyroid function and adrenal control as shown in this article and in this article, as well as in this one. And supports improvement in symptoms of Non-classical adrenal hyperplasia. Ashwagandha alleviates signs of adrenal insufficiency and insulin resistance as well as signs of PCOS.
Maca root stimulates the pituitary and hypothalamus and studies have shown diverse benefits of using maca.
You can see more benefits of maca here. These include improving sexual health, alleviating menopausal symptoms including depression and anxiety, interrupted sleep, night sweats and hot flushes improved as E2 (estradiol) level went up as detailed in this study. Maca root is a powerhouse of nutrition providing potassium, calcium, zinc, phosphorus, iodine, magnesium, iron, and essential fatty acids.
A study published in The International Journal of Biomedical Science found that maca improved fatigue, stress, and headaches decreased depression, improved decreased libido, proved night sweats and hot flushes, improved mood swings nervousness, even bone density, interrupted sleep patterns, all symptoms of estrogen and other hormone imbalances, improved and a significant increase in estrogen was seen in the study subjects.
Vitamin E according to a controlled research study was found to reduce hot flushes
Burdock root has been found to possess many therapeutic properties including great effects against cancer per this article.
It also stimulates the pituitary, improves estrogen and liver function, reduces stress; cortisol versus progesterone, and is said to be a great blood purifier.
It can even help the liver regenerate and reduce uric acid in the blood.
#3 Eat your fruits and veggies
Eat Broccoli and broccoli sprouts. Don’t wait until Thanksgiving to eat your broccoli sprouts. In fact, include more cruciferous vegetables in your meals often.
Research published in the American Association for Cancer Research Journal found that broccoli and broccoli sprouts have a substance called sulforaphane which inhibits cancer stem cells in breast tissue, furthermore, other research supports eating more vegetables as prevention of cancer and this includes hormone-supported cancers such as breast cancer
Back raspberries and blueberries
You have always known that berries are powerful antioxidants. Research is showing that they can actually protect one from cancer. They contain ellagic acid which researchers found reduced the growth of estrogen-dependent breast cancers.
- Vitamins and minerals such as Zinc, Mag, B vitamins, c, vitamin D, and E. Vitamin E increase progesterone and according to a controlled research study, vitamin E was found to reduce hot flashes.
- Other great supplements include selenium.
- Eat selenium-rich foods, as selenium assists in reducing PCOS and Acne both conditions of hormonal imbalance. About 200-400 of selenium increases progesterone and decreases acne.
- Take vitamin C. A study published in The American Society of Reproductive Medicine found that supplementation with vitamin c during the luteal phase may correct infertility in some cases.
- Vitamin C was found to alleviate Luteal phase abnormality, an endocrine disorder that is associated with infertility and miscarriages.
- Vitamin C may improve infertility, and prevent miscarriages. With vitamin, C supplementation progesterone levels increased per research mentioned and it is known this hormone is needed to sustain a pregnancy.
Related: The best supplements for hormonal balance
Vitamin D and hormonal balance
Vitamin D in its active form functions as a Hormone.
Vitamin D has many functions that science keeps uncovering. Get some vitamin D supplementation or/ and go outdoors. But keep in mind vitamin D in too great amounts can be toxic.
Make sure to consult your doctor and have your levels checked. Given that most people are deficient these days may mean that toxicity is unlikely if you take per directions, but let your MD know to weigh in on it.
Studies are showing that vitamin D deficiency is a worldwide health problem according to this study.
The study shows the role of vitamin D in a wide range of fetal genetic programming and gene regulation.
This could likely explain why vitamin D has such a wide range of health benefits throughout life.
So have your levels checked and ask your dr for recommendations.
Improving the vitamin D status of children and adult worldwide improves not only their musculoskeletal health but can also reduce the risk of some chronic illnesses such as certain cancers, autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases, diabetes, neurocognitive e diseases, and even impact mortality.
According to the same study, Vitamin D has far-reaching health benefits.
Low vitamin D status has been associated with an increased risk of type 1 diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, cognitive decline, depression, pregnancy complications, autoimmunity, allergy, and even frailty.
Low prenatal and neonatal vitamin D status may also increase susceptibility to schizophrenia, type 1 diabetes, and multiple sclerosis (MS) in later life via specific target organ effects, including the immune system, or through epigenetic modification.
You may have heard how important it is to have enough vitamin D for bone growth and development. But studies show that vitamin D does way more.
Vitamin D is an important factor in estrogen biosynthesis of both female and male gonads according to research.
Vitamin D has been shown to have a protective effect against many chronic illnesses and it has been found that healthy adults who received 400-2000 IUDs showed an up or down-regulation of certain genes that affect up to 160 metabolic pathways ranging from immune modulation to antioxidant activity.
So yes vitamin D can affect the health of generations to come through gene regulation.
Vitamin D is shown to enhance estrogen production.
It appears one needs to have optimal vitamin D from way back, in fact, from fetal age. Vitamin D status per this article may increase the likelihood of certain chronic diseases in later life, and maternal Vit D supplementation is encouraged as a public health measure to decrease the risk and range of chronic diseases.
So, expecting mamas, you got to step into the sunlight. 5-10 minutes of sun exposure to the arms and face is recommended 2-3 times a week. Apparently, sunscreen diminishes its absorption, so don’t linger in the sun too long as skin cancer is also a risk.
Related:13 Best Vitamins for Great Health
#5 Essential oils
Essential oils are amazing and have so many healthy and diverse uses. It turns out some can help with hormonal balance too. Here are a few essential oils that work well for hormonal balance,
Clary sage oil.
This powerhouse of essential oil has many benefits including balancing your hormones. Is there anything that clary sage cannot do?
It is simply amazing. This study found that clary sage can also lower cortisol and can improve depressive symptoms.
Clary sage oil Can help with estrogen balance Clary sage can also improve symptoms of PMS including cramping, mood swings, and even symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes this study published in Pub Med found.
This research found that sage reduced hot flushes and hot flushes severity in menopausal women. Clary sage has been used to treat and alleviate symptoms such as PMS and menopause issues including depression since the 4th BCE. Just opening a bottle and taking a whiff of this oil alleviates symptoms.
Holy basil oil
Also known as Tulsi, holy basil or “the incomparable one”, or the “Queen of herbs”, has a wide range of benefits including powerful antioxidant properties such as protection from chemical toxin-induced injuries as well as antidiabetic actions preventing metabolic syndrome per this source.
Tulsi is also referred to as liquid yoga”, conferring the same benefits of calmness, clarity of thought, and relaxation.
And has been shown to reduce cortisol, improve mood, enhance mental clarity, and improve estrogen balance.
According to research, holy basil was found to reduce stress markers such as increased blood cortisol, and hyperglycemia.
If you want to experience the power of holy basil you grab for yourself some here.
Exercise is great for mind and body wellness or optimal health. Try yoga. Yoga helps with lymph movement removing toxins from the body.
We all know toxin of any kind is bound to affect health.
Hormonal balance is also affected by toxins in our environments that may find their way into our bodies.
So if some of these can be flushed out through the lymphatic system, that improves hormonal balance as well.
Go for gentle exercise as too vigorous exercise can induce further cortisol production, which is not good if you have a hormonal imbalance.
#7 Sleep More and better
Lack of sleep or not getting the optimal amount of sleep can wreak havoc on your hormonal balance. Disordered sleep affects the circadian rhythm of your cortisol, and Lack of sleep affects insulin and glucose metabolism plus leptin and ghrelin as is shown in this study.
Sleep restriction causes low levels of leptin, meaning that one does not get that signal that one have had enough food, therefore one overeats.
Then the opposite is also true, the opposing hormone, Ghrelin is then found in high levels causing an excessive feeling of hunger, and thereby more eating.
Furthermore, lack of sleep leads to dysregulated eating that goes beyond caloric needs and obesity as studies have shown.
Obesity, in turn, causes more hormonal imbalances.
Another problem with sleep disruption is that it can lead to diabetes due to altered insulin sensitivity, and overeating as lack of sleep not only increased hunger and appetite but stimulates areas in the brain that increased the need to eat leading to obesity.
And as the excerpt below shows, can lead to the activation of genes that promote obesity due to lack of sleep. Who knew sleep is this crucial? It is shocking to imagine that one can pass along these genes to posterity just by having too little sleep.
A 2014 study published in Pub Med on the effect of sleep on metabolism found that:
Both reduction in total sleep duration with slow-wave sleep (SWS) largely preserved and alterations of sleep quality (especially marked reduction of SWS) with preservation of total sleep duration are associated with insulin resistance without compensatory increase in insulin secretion, resulting in impaired glucose tolerance and increased risk of type 2 diabetes. When performed under rigorously controlled conditions of energy intake and physical activity, sleep restriction is also associated with a decrease in circulating levels of leptin (an anorexigenic hormone) and an increase in circulating levels of ghrelin (an orexigenic hormone), hunger and appetite. Furthermore, sleep restriction is also associated with a stimulation of brain regions sensitive to food stimuli, indicating that sleep loss may lead to obesity through the selection of high-calorie food. There is also evidence that sleep restriction could provide a permissive environment for the activation of genes that promote obesity. Indeed, the heritability of body mass index is increased in short sleepers. Thus, chronic sleep curtailment, which is on the rise in modern society, including in children, is likely to contribute to the current epidemics of type 2 diabetes and obesity.
Related: How to Sleep Better at Night Naturally
Who knew sleep is this crucial? It is shocking to imagine that one can pass along these genes to posterity just by having too little sleep.
#8 Avoid Stress.
Relaxation and emotional health are essential when it comes to hormonal balance.
So take the time to relax sometime.
Yes, I know!
That’s a tall order for some of us. How does one do this? How do a woman, a wife, and a mother relax or reduce stress?
However, it’s important though, as her health may depend on it.
Try and find some quiet time. Even if it’s after the kids have gone to bed.
Set aside time for you. Read, or take a long sweet smelling bath.
Do the things that help you relax and take time for your mental health including journaling, yoga, or taking a detox bath to unwind.
These simple actions can help you keep those cortisol levels down, and avoid the cascade of events that follows elevated cortisol levels.
9# Detox bath using Epsom salt
Take a relaxing bath with Epsom salt. Epsom salts have magnesium which helps with hormonal balance especially because magnesium is essential in insulin balance.
The skin is one of the largest body organs and it is permeable, so it will absorb magnesium and then magnesium will draw toxins out of the body.
It is a win-win situation, as the body and mind relax, and you gain magnesium, an element that the body needs for many other functions including cardiac and nerve health. See here for more on magnesium and mental health.
#10 Avoid sugar:
To balance your hormones you should cut out or reduce your sugar intake.
Sugar is an endorphin disrupter, and is perhaps the biggest cause of hormonal imbalance. Also, sugar causes inflammation by feeding all the bad gut bacteria and destroying gut health.
This inflammation may eventually cause a leaky gut and metabolic syndrome ensues leading to diabetes and obesity. There is way too much sugar in our modern western diet, and it’s time we paid attention to what we buy and eat. Pay attention to labels as sugar hides in places you may not expect even in some foods passing as healthy.
Watch out for that “healthy” cereal, or yogurt and healthy bars. Of course, there are many more foods that we shouldn’t eat that are being marketed as healthy.
#11 Avoid alcohol
That glass of wine with dinner is great, but alcohol disrupts the liver’s ability to detoxify the body especially its ability to remove and metabolize for excretion those hormones that have already been used.
If these extra hormones such as estrogen are not taken out then they continue circulating in the bloodstream which disrupts the hormonal balance.
Remember that many hormones work on a negative feedback system, where when one hormone reaches the optimal level, a signal is sent to start producing another hormone and to stop that other hormone’s secretion.
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#12 Avoid exposure to Xenoestrogens
Xenoestrogens are estrogen-like substances that are toxic to our bodies and can affect hormonal balance.
These estrogen-like compounds are found in food and things we use such as care products, plastics, and household cleaners that we spray in our living spaces. Before you slap that new lipstick or that new foundation on, check to see what is made of.
Care products that have parabens, for example, are not healthy and affect hormone balance.
And there is a reason why some cleaning products produce fumes that strangle a person. It’s a sign they are toxic. So it is time to consider natural cleaners and care products that are free of toxins.
Use instead natural skincare products to avoid exposure to xenoestrogens and other hormone disruptors.
Many things we use for our care are loaded with toxins that cause hormonal imbalances. Check out this article for a wealth of information on natural care products.
There are many ways to keep our bodies and minds healthy.
One way is to nourish your hormones, and adjust Keeping our hormones in balance is one important way to have a healthy body and mind. And your lifestyle, a big part of which is what you eat, clean with and your beauty products can determine if you get hormonal imbalance.
So now that you know how lifestyle impacts your hormones what lifestyle changes are you making to balance your hormones?
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Leptin and metabolism
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This is an amazing article filled with some wonderful information. Bookmarked and pinned.
Thanks for the wealth of information.
Celeste, you are so very welcome! and I am thrilled you liked it. I would looove it if you shared. so honored.
Wow! This is an epic post! Loved it.
I use Vitex Agnus Castus to keep my hormones in balance. It’s also an adaptogen. 🙂
Christina, yes! Vitex another Adaptogen that is amazing for hormonal balance. May add it in the post. My post just got too long. Yes, it is really epic and I thrilled you enjoyed it. Awesome! and thanks for reading and commenting!
Wow! Such a well researched article. Hormonal balance is so crucial for women. A lot of women are suffering with the symptoms, me included. Ever since fertility medications and having a baby my hormones are completely crazy. I’ll try and implement some of your suggestions. But I can only decrease stress in my life so much.
Liz Talton / Pitter Patter Of Baby Feet
Hi Liz! I am glad you found this post useful. I hope some of the information here can help you. And I am with you about the stress as life must go on. We can try and tweak some things but I know it is hard. It sometimes may a lot of intentional maneuvers but moms especially can find this challenging. Keep working on natural living and decreasing all the artificial stuff we are immersed in daily. Thanks so much for reading
Awesome info. Thanks for this article. I pinned this. Great info.
Wow, what a great article! I have never seen so much information about this in one page. Thank you so much for taking the time to write all of this, its very useful!
Brittany, I am so glad this post provided value to you. And thank you so much for reading.
Hi Kelly! and so honored that you found this information valuable. And thank you for reading and pinning!
Great information!! Thanks so much! Was diagnosed with stage 5 Hashimoto last fall, doing it natural!!!
Sarah, It is always hard to have a chronic or life-changing diagnosis. But in such a case the best thing is always to become as informed as possible to manage the best way possible. I love to see that there is so much that can be managed by natural means. I am happy that you have found a way to manage this condition. Gives hope to many people. But it is always a good thing to have your dr on board hopefully you have a supportive one.
Ronna, Thank you so much! That means a lot to me. thank you for reading and commenting. I am so honored.
Hormonal balance is definitely something more and more women are suffering from these days and educating ourselves on it is so important! Love how detailed this post is! Thanks for sharing! xx
Thank you so much Huda for reading. I believe we need to educate ourselves in natural health as the modern world we live in is causing a lot of
problems hormonal balance included.
Thanks for sharing this, I have learnt so much from reading it x
Jade, You are so welcome, and I happy to know you found value in this post. Thanks for reading and letting me know what you though. So appreciate.
I¡¦m not positive where you are getting your information, however good topic. I needs to spend some time learning much more or working out more. Thanks for excellent info I used to be searching for this information for my mission.
The links are shown in the blog showing where the information is coming from. you can check them out. Thank you-you for reading, I get most of the information from peer-reviewed articles and research.
What a great blog. Very informative and necessary for us ladies.
Natasha, thanks so much for reading and letting me know you found this info useful. I am so honored and really appreciate your reinforcement and validation.
Very informative! Hormones affect your mental, physical and emotional health. You shared a great advice to keep hormones in balance. Thanks a lot for sharing.
Hi Lisa! It’s true. Hormones affect so many areas of your health and when they are out of balance a lot of ones health suffer.
Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful information, This is teaching so many women on how to take care of themselves.
Thank you! I am glad you found this post valuable as hormonal balance affects nearly every function in the body
Wow! I’ve taken a hormone test called the Dutch test where they test your hormone production 28 days after my cycle. And found my exact imbalances and the information here was spot on but more understandable for a woman who isn’t familiar with the medical terms! Thank you