Balancing Hormones Naturally + Why It's Important (Part I)
In high school and college, I didn't really pay much attention to my hormone balance, I cared more about having fun, being social and staying on top of school work and my social life. To be honest, it wasn’t really something I thought about, or thought I should be concerned by. I was generally considered healthy: never got sick, never went to the doctor, ate organic food, exercised, used nontoxic beauty products, used essential oils, and ate mostly home-cooked meals. All of these things are great habits, and yes, these are healthy - but as women, our hormones are a delicate balance that we have to pay attention to, and we have to dig a lot deeper than daily healthy habits.
So, what do our hormones do?
Hormones are the chemical messengers that travel via our our blood to every organ and tissue in our body, so that they can perform as normal. As you can imagine, having an imbalance of these little messengers can greatly affect body function and natural processes. Some of these may even surprise you!
Hormones can affect:
• Metabolism and thyroid function
• Sexual function and drive
• Reproductive health (fertility)
• Cognition and energy levels
• Mood and emotions
• Thirst and hunger
Because hormones are so delicate and their role is so vital to the proper function of our body, understanding if our body is out of balance and how to fix it is so important. Its possible that hormones may be the underlying cause of issues you have been suffering with for a long time.
What hormones do we have as women?
Oestrogen or Estrogen
Secreted by our ovaries, it is responsible for reproduction, menstruation and menopause. Excess estrogen can occasionally occur due to use of oral contraceptives. Low levels of estrogen are very common and can occur with things as simple as a poor diet, or excessive cardio and over-exercising.
Are you out of balance? What to look for:
thinning skin and hair loss
moodiness or depression
Known as the male hormone, testosterone is the main sex hormone in both men and women, and helps the body build muscle.
The production of the right amount of testosterone is dependent on lifestyle: diet, mood, and day-to-day activities. Apparently, eating too much red meat, being too sedentary (no exercise), and excessive drinking or smoking can all lead to testosterone imbalances.
Out of balance? What to look for:
weight gain (especially around the belly)
abnormal hair growth
Serotonin is the happy hormone: it helps to regulate mood, sleep cycles, appetite, memory, and some muscular functions.
Are you out of balance?
The stress hormone. Produced by the adrenal glands, cortisol is the hormone responsible for helping you stay healthy and energetic, but its biggest purpose is to control physical and psychological stress. In stressful moments, the body's natural reaction is to boost cortisol levels to help cope with the situation. Sadly, in today’s overly stressed world, most women have chronically high cortisol levels.
Out of balance? What to look for:
high blood pressure
high levels of cholesterol
Though small little messengers, our hormones have a powerful effect on your body. If you ever feel like nothing is working for you, you are probably at an imbalance with your hormones. You are not powerless, there is so much you can do, naturally, to keep them in check.
Any of these factors below could be big indicators that your hormones are completely out of whack:
• Skin issues and acne
• Weight gain around the mid section
• Loss of muscle mass
• Trouble sleeping
• Always exhausted
• Low libido
• Night sweats and hot flashes
• Extreme cravings
After graduating college and discovering I had severe adrenal fatigue and imbalanced hormones, I decided that I needed to prioritize my hormone health, not by pushing myself with diets and crazy exercise, but through following my body’s natural cycles and learning to understand my hormones as they fluctuate. Supporting your body so that it functions at its optimum levels is key to feeling your best and staying healthy in the long term. It is a long road, but it's well worth the investment.
Next in the series is Part II, where I go into detail about everything I do on a daily basis to support and maintain a healthy hormone balance 100% naturally.