Love them or hate them, ladies our hormones are here to stay so we are here to help you tame the beast within, the natural way! First, let's discuss what we are up against.
Hormones are our body’s chemical messengers, carried throughout the bloodstream, telling your body what to do and when. So when they’re out of whack, it’s no surprise that we are too. Like us, our hormones are sensitive to food, chemicals, stress, drugs, alcohol and more importantly the health of your liver. Any imbalance can cause substantial changes to not only your cells, but to your entire body and mind... cue the death stare you give your partner for breathing the wrong way.
So, if you're feeling fatigued, losing your hair, feel your aging beyond your years or having major mood swings, you're not alone. These are all common symptoms of hormone imbalance, but thankfully these imbalances are able to be altered. We’ll explain the most common symptoms to look out for, and show you how to balance your hormones naturally.
So, what is hormonal imbalance?
Hormone imbalance occurs when there is too much or too little of a hormone in your body. Normally, your endocrine glands produce just the right amount of each hormone required for various functions in your body. However, due to today’s fast-paced lifestyle, your body can produce too little or too much of certain hormones, causing hormonal imbalances. When the liver is overloaded it can't process the hormones our bodies create, and can build up over time, exacerbating imbalances further. It's no surprise that imbalances have become increasingly common, however in addition to lifestyle choices, certain hormones can naturally change with age.
“Because of their essential role in the body, even small hormonal imbalances can cause side effects throughout the body.”
Potential causes of hormonal imbalance
Everyone will experience natural periods of hormonal imbalance throughout their life, however there are certain factors that are usually the main culprits to blame when the endocrine glands are not functioning properly.
Medical conditions, lifestyle choices and environmental factors all play a role in hormonal imbalances, however the most common causes include:
- Chronic stress
- Thyroid issues
- Poor diet and nutrition
- Liver issues
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Birth control medications
- Allergic reactions
- Pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding
The 9 red flags of hormonal imbalance
Possibly the most frustrating repercussion, particularly when you’ve been on top of your diet all week and squatting for gold! But the ugly truth is that both thyroid and insulin imbalances can contribute to weight gain, as well as the stress hormone, cortisol.
Again, talk about frustration! Depending if you’re a man or a woman, the hormones that control your sex drive naturally differ. However, no matter what you identify as, if these hormones aren't in balance, your libido will likely take a fall. Oestrogen and testosterone levels are usually the ones to blame here, so if you don’t feel like getting cosy with your significant other, then you might want to get these checked.
Night Sweats & Hot Flushes
If you're partial to waking up a bit sweaty during the night, it could just be the result of that extra blanket, or the socks you're wearing to bed. However, night sweats, among many other factors, can be a sign of hormonal imbalances. Common in menopausal and postpartum women, night sweats can be a result of a decline in oestrogen levels, as well as chronic stress.
Irregular Menstrual Cycle
Still waiting for last week’s period to make an appearance? Irregular periods such as extended time between periods, losing more or less blood, or having a longer or shorter period can all be signs of a hormonal imbalance. In order to regulate menstruation, the body produces oestrogen and progesterone, however an imbalance in these hormones will cause you to have irregular periods. Changing birth control pills, excessive exercise and stress can also cause an irregular menstrual cycle. Be sure to be prepared for hormonal imbalances when coming off birth control too.
I’m sure we’ve all played the blame game when it comes to being grumpy or stressed around our periods, but the truth is that premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is largely due to hormonal imbalances, and contrary to popular belief, intense PMS symptoms are not normal. Low progesterone and oestrogen levels are again to blame here, so keep an eye out on those mood swings and cramps ladies, during this time it is essential to reduce stress, alcohol intake, triggers, inflammation and sugar (despite the sugar cravings, refined sugar makes hormonal imbalances worse).
Not getting enough sleep can make you feel physically ill, unmotivated and just “bleh”, it affects almost every aspect of your life. This can be a result of having unnaturally high levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) and adrenaline, which can result in trouble falling asleep. Similarly, an inability to secrete melatonin may result in difficulty falling asleep or adjusting to a new sleep pattern.
Hormones have a massive influence on gut function, so having a hormone imbalance can impact the quantity and function of the bacteria in your gut, leading to side effects such as bloating, constipation, diarrhea, or nausea (yay!). If you’re going through perimenopause or menopause, a dip in estrogen and progesterone levels can also cause changes in bowel movements.
Decline in Mental Health
Irritability, anxiety, depression, nervousness… are these sounding familiar? When your hormones aren't in balance you might experience these symptoms, leading you to feel out of control when it comes to your own mood. An imbalance of the hormone progesterone can lead to feelings of anxiousness, whilst testosterone, adrenaline, cortisol and oxytocin all play a role in controlling your overall emotional state.
Hair Loss & Skin Issues
Hair, skin and nails are commonly affected by changing levels of hormones due to a hormone called androgen that stimulates oil glands and hair follicles in the skin. Changes in thyroid hormones can also make hair thin and cause breakage, create bad skin breakouts and most annoyingly, induce dry skin! Changes in oestrogen levels can also increase wrinkle formation and decrease skin elasticity and collagen.
Balance Your Hormones Naturally
There are a few steps you can take to improve your symptoms and start feeling yourself again!
Incorporating healthy fats into your diet such as plant based omega-3 may help reduce your appetite and reduce your risk of obesity. These fatty acids help reduce your appetite by suppressing the area of the brain that controls appetite and therefore reduces the risk of overeating.
Including a high-quality probiotic and probiotic foods into your diet will also aid with increasing gut health by balancing out the amount of “good” vs. “bad” bacteria that are present. The greater the “good”, the easier it is for your digestive system to process the food you eat, and the less bowel problems you will encounter.
Changing lifestyle habits may also help reduce the likelihood of symptoms and hormonal imbalances. These changes include maintaining a healthy body weight, meditation, keeping a nutritious and healthy diet, regular exercise and a lot of self care.
Lastly, incorporating collagen into your diet is a simple way to sustain healthy levels of hormones. Collagen is a great source of amino acids, which are essential to maintaining the right amount of hormones in the body. Collagen can help with gut health issues like leaky gut syndrome, repairing holes in the gut and preventing the inflammatory response that can come from undigested food passing through these gaps. Collagen also supports healthy thyroid function and offsets cortisol (stress hormone) imbalance.
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If you’re experiencing symptoms of hormonal imbalance such as unexplained weight gain, fatigue, trouble sleeping, and changes in your menstrual cycle, try our above recommendations to balance your hormones naturally. Of course, visiting a medical professional about your symptoms and potential underlying causes is encouraged.