Do you feel like any time you google a symptom nowadays you get an answer involving imbalanced hormones? Tired all the time? Imbalanced hormones. Crazy mood swings? Imbalanced hormones. Hungry even though you just ate? Imbalanced hormones.
It seems like imbalanced hormones is the latest generic answer to every problem. But what does it mean?
what is a hormone imbalance?
I was told my hormones were imbalanced when I sought out a medical professional because I was feeling dead tired no matter how much sleep I got. I had no idea what this actually meant. I nodded along, assuming it had something to do with my naturally heavy-hitting periods or the intense birth control I was taking to assuage the hellish affects of my cycle.
But honestly, I had little to no clue what imbalanced hormones meant.
how much our hormones affect
Most women associate hormones with our menstrual cycle and not much else. After I was originally given the vague diagnosis of “imbalanced hormones” I did some research and to sum it up our hormones control and affect… pretty much everything.
And this “imbalance” people are always referring to can be about a number of different hormones. not just our ovarian hormones (the ones responsible for our mensisies).
the science behind hormones
The two hormones that are in charge are insulin and cortisol. Insulin is the hormone tied to “blood sugar” and cortisol is the hormone tied to stress. These hormones have a domino effect on all our other hormones: thyroid, ovarian (progesteron, estrogen and testosterone) and sleep (melatonin).
In order to balance our hormones, it’s best to look at our bodies’ relationship to stress and sugar.
Through my own journey of balancing my hormones I’ve found these 7 lifestyle changes helped me to feel centered and stable.
1. More exercise
Like I said earlier, I was struggling with fatigue. I would sleep for twelve hours a night and still need a nap. I found out that the amount of time you sleep isn’t all that matters. The quality of your sleep is just as important, and if you’re hitting your REM cycle you won’t need as much sleep.
Something I found that truly helped me conk out at the end of the day was getting in a really good work out. I had always maintained a certain level of fitness, but pushing myself in my workouts to the point of exhaustion had me sleeping like a baby and waking up feeling refreshed–a concept that was entirely new to me.
Exercise helps reduce excess estrogen, regulate your body’s cortisol levels, and helps prevent insulin resistance.
NOTE: During my shift in balancing my hormones, I did a number of things simultaneously so it’s good to note that upping my exercise probably could not have happened without a combination of these 7 tips.
2. Omega 3 Fatty Acid Supplements
The most effective supplement for me was Omega 3 fatty acids. I started taking it when I read about Omega 3’s role in hormone production.
If you aren’t eating oily fish on a regular basis, chances are you aren’t getting the recommended amount of Omega 3 fatty acids. Which can wreak havoc on your hormones, since Omega 3 fatty acids are the building blocks for hormone production. They also play a crucial role in transporting hormones throughout the body.
It is also high in EPA which is partially responsible for your brain creating serotonin to level out mood swings.
3. Herbal Remedies
I found that herbal remedies were most helpful in managing symptoms. My favorites were ginseng and rhodiola, both easing my fatigue which got me up and ready to exercise. My favorite way to consume them was making a tea out of the roots, but you can also find them in supplement form.
4. Seed Cycling
When I first read about seed cycling I was hesitant, because I couldn’t imagine something as small as seeds would make much of a difference. But I now credit seed cycling with easing my transition off of my over-the-top birth control.
Starting on the first day of your period take a tablespoon of ground up pumpkin and flax seeds with Omega 3 oil. Flax seeds contains lignans which help your body remove excess estrogen and pumpkin seeds are high in zinc which support progesterone. Do this every day until half way through your cycle (assuming you cycle on a 30 day lunar cycle this would be day 15).
From then until the start of your next period take a tablespoon of ground up sunflower and sesame seeds with primrose oil. Sunflower seeds selenium which is crucial to the production of the thyroid hormone, and sesame seeds are also high in lignan.
Although the effects are most powerful when you consume raw seeds, you can also eat their butter forms or any other forms you find.
5. Manage Stress
Like I mentioned earlier, cortisol, your stress hormone, rules the rest of your hormones. So keeping your stress levels low will help you balance out your hormones.
I learned to cope with stress through daily meditation. It wasn’t easy finding time for it, but I when I realized how much of a toll stress was having on my hormones I knew it was essential to care for myself in this way.
6. Minimize Alcohol and Caffeine
Alcohol affects our blood sugar levels which spikes our insulin and caffeine increases our blood pressure stimulating the release of cortisol. These two substances are the perfect cocktail for hormone imbalance since they trigger a surplus of the two hormones that regulate the rest of our hormones.
I’m not saying avoid them all together, just be aware of the effects they have on the body.