Hormones are strongly tied into stress and diet/lifestyle factors. As women, we often overwork ourselves and forget about self-care. We run ourselves short and then crash when there’s nothing left in the tank. I like the analogy “you can’t pour from an empty cup” and man is that true. It’s so important to take care of ourselves, so that we can continue to take care of all the things that are important parts of our lives.
There are three important types of hormones that interact with each other: our sex hormones, our stress hormones, and our thyroid hormones. Each of these cycles of hormones are interrelated and each of these are part of an axis that gets signals from our brain as part of a feedback system. So the picture can get a little complicated. This is why it’s always important to have a healthcare provider on board as part of your healthcare team. But what I cover below are some basic things every woman (and man) can do to help balance hormones and reduce stress.
Mind/body connection: Stress reduction can help bring balance to our various hormonal systems. It can include exercise, mindfulness meditation, talk therapy, having a spiritual practice, or deep breathing. Also let’s face it, somedays squeezing in a warm bath or a quick walk in some fresh air works too!
Diet: There are so many ways to support hormone health with our diet and food choices! Here are some of my favorites.
- Flax seeds! Including freshly ground flax seeds in our daily meals helps provide fiber to help excrete extra amounts of hormones that we may be storing in our adipose (fat) cells. Flax seeds also are a good source of omega 3 fatty acids which help as carriers for our hormones. Additionally, flax seeds help increase sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). This protein is what regulates the amounts of hormones in circulation. So similar to the fiber connection, SHBG brings hormonal balance. I often have patients start with 2 tablespoons a day added to things like smoothies or on top of soups or salads.
- Healthy fats! Avocados, cold water fish, walnuts, almonds, coconut oil, and grass fed beef are all great sources of healthy fats that our bodies NEED for hormone health.
- Dark leafy greens. Including dark leafy greens in our diets helps provide necessary vitamins and cofactors for hormone production and detoxification. These include kale, spinach, swiss chard, mustard greens, and collards.
Other choices: Drinking green tea and doing castor oil packs are other favorites of mine. Green tea is shown to help balance hormones, fight infections, and give an energy boost. 1-2 cups of fair trade organic green tea daily can be a great addition to your wellness routine.
Castor oil packs are a basic treatment that many naturopaths use for a variety of ailments. The oil comes from a toxic castor bean. However, when used topically, it is perfectly safe. Apply the oil to an old shirt or a piece of flannel and then lay it across your abdomen with a towel over it and a hot water bottle on top. This will help drive it’s anti-inflammatory, liver cleansing, and reproductive health properties into the target tissues. Doing a castor oil pack 3 times a week, can help regulate hormones and provide relief for other systemic issues as well!
There are many other ways to support hormone health and address specific imbalances. However, those issues are better addressed on an individual level with a practitioner who is familiar with what exactly is happening in your body.
– Meghan Bennett, ND