Do you experience acne, bloating, headaches, cramps and mood wings? For women, it’s considered normal to suffer through this. But these symptoms aren’t normal; they are possible signs that you need to balance your hormones.
Our bodies are constantly working for us to remain in a state of balance, also known as homeostasis. When hormones are balanced, and the body is in a state of homeostasis, you can expect drama-free periods, clear skin and good digestion.
The good news is, you can balance your hormones through lifestyle and dietary choices.
These 4 tips for happy hormones are a great place to start.
1. Get good quality sleep to help manage stress during the day
Fight-or-flight is our bodies’ ancient response to stress. It shuts down many functions of the body to reserve energy for our limbs and brain. As a result, hormones flood our system, disrupting homeostasis. Imbalances may lead to symptoms of bloating, constipation, mood swings and fatigue.
In a deep sleep, the body renews damaged cells, boosts the immune system, stimulates muscle repair, recharges the heart and balances hormones. The stress hormone cortisol, and the sleep hormone melatonin, are so interlinked that it’s impossible to mention one without the other. Blame stress when this hormone tango is interrupted.
To help balance hormones for a better sleep, try removing all screens before bed (TV, phone, tablet). Darkness triggers melatonin, and light suppresses it. Encourage your melatonin production for some much-needed good quality sleep.
Manage stress while awake: Try a 10-minute guided meditation during stressful periods; meditation is great for turning off your body’s fight-or-flight response.
2. Detoxify your liver and have daily bowel movements
A healthy liver plays a key role in supporting hormone balance and good digestion. The liver is one of the most important detoxification organs, it processes and eliminates excess hormones. An overburdened liver that is unable to detoxify properly (due to poor diet, stress, alcohol, etc.) causes hormones to be reabsorbed by the body, disrupting homeostasis.
Without a healthy liver, hormonal imbalances may lead to excess estrogen, headaches, mood swings and acne. The liver benefits from whole foods that are rich in sulphur—think of your stinky foods such as eggs, onions and garlic. The liver also loves bitter foods; try incorporating warm lemon water in the morning to support liver detoxification.
Hormones that have been detoxified from the liver are transported to the bowels to be eliminated from the body. Constipation interferes with this process.
I like to recommend aiming for more than one bowel movement a day, though once a day is also acceptable.
Water and fiber should fill your diet for healthy stools. Aim for 2 litres of filtered water throughout the day. Fibre rich foods include beans, lentils, berries, avocado and whole grains. Fibre bulks up your stool for a fast exit!
3. Heal your gut
You might have heard the word ‘leaky gut’—I’m going to break it down for you! Intestinal permeability, aka leaky gut, refers to the openings in your gut lining allowing toxins, microorganisms, pathogens and undigested food particles into your bloodstream. This can contribute to several symptoms and systemic inflammation.
Poor diet, stress, food sensitivities and medication can cause leaky gut. To help heal your gut, it is important to consume whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, good quality protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates.
Avoid foods that you are sensitive to, and focus on an anti-inflammatory diet. Support the healing of a leaky gut with foods such as eggs (high in Vitamin D), flaxseeds (powerful source of Omega-3s).
4. Balance your blood sugar levels
It is time to say goodbye to sugar! I’m not talking about sugar from your favourite fruits, bees or maple trees.
I am talking about refined sugar. This highly processed sugar is hidden everywhere and very addictive. Insulin is the main blood sugar hormone. Cortisol and insulin are so highly interconnected, that a spike in blood sugar levels can contribute to a spike in cortisol levels. For women, the long-term effect of elevated blood sugar levels is often hormone imbalances and stress.
Here’s how you can balance your blood sugar levels:
- Increase fat, protein and complex carbohydrates in your diet
- Only consume sugar from whole foods, like fruits or raw honey
- Up your intake of B vitamins to support glucose metabolism—that means more leafy greens
- Sprinkle cinnamon on your morning oatmeal to naturally support blood sugar balance
Balance your hormones for homeostasis
Overall, balancing your hormones and achieving homeostasis can lead to better sleep, less stress, and drama-free periods.
Geneve Benatar is a holistic nutritionist and curve model. She is obsessed with balancing hormones, good gut bacteria and kidneys. After healing herself from kidney disease, she hopes to inspire others to find optimal health.
Disclaimer: this content is for educational purposes only. Always consult with a healthcare practitioner if you have concerns about your hormone balance.