Hormone imbalance is no longer something that just effects women as they approach the menopause years. Hormone imbalance is effecting almost all women at every stage of their lives, from teenagers to women in their 30's. Even those who don't know or think they are experiencing hormone imbalance, often after doing some digging into the underlying cause of health problems, imbalanced hormones are identified as a contributing and often the root cause of many woman's health complaints. Balancing hormones naturally is something that can be done, but first you must understand if you are experiencing hormone imbalance. Here are some common hormone imbalance symptoms:
- Inability to loose weight
- Weight Gain
- Chronic Tiredness
- Skin Problems
- Health symptoms around the monthly cycle (PMS)
- Reduced sex drive
- Problems with conception
- Diagnosed female health conditions (i.e. POS)
- Sleep Problems
These are all symptoms of hormone imbalance. In my practice, I would say at least 80-90% of all the women I see are suffering from some type of hormone imbalance. Why is that? A toxic environment, stressful lifestyles, lack of exercise and the food we eat are all the main culprits in hormone imbalance. Most women who are experiencing hormone imbalance are either receiving no treatment at all or are on perpetual prescription drugs including birth control pills. Neither of these address the underlying root cause of hormone imbalance or work to bring hormones back into balance. There are steps you can take to balance hormones naturally and prevent even more severe hormone imbalance from occurring as you age.
To prevent and reverse any health condition you must first know and understand the cause. If you never look to the cause you will continue in practices that contribute to the original health symptom and continue the cycle.
Hormone imbalance is predominately caused by...
Stress plays a major role in hormones imbalance. The Franklin Institute explains that stress causes the brain to flood the body with adrenal hormones that are produced in order to help the individual respond to danger. This response is known as the fight-or-flight response. These stress hormones are naturally supposed to subside within a relatively short amount of time (as soon as the perceived danger is gone), but in lifestyles that are perpetually stressful, stress hormones continue to flood the body. The female body uses progesterone to minimize and water down the effects of these powerful stress hormones. As progesterone is used too frequently, estrogen levels begin to rise. This imbalance between progesterone and estrogen is the classic hormone imbalance reaction.
Insulin Increase ---> Cortisol Increase ---> Progesterone Decrease ---> Estrogen Increase (Estrogen Dominance)
There is another problem with increased levels of insulin. Insulin is a growth factor, meaning it causes cells to grow. There has been a strong link found between increased insulin levels and breast cancer. This is because cancer is simply the over growth of certain cells. Insulin stimulates the growth of cells and often this means the growth of cancer cells. If you know you have insulin issues or have been diagnosed with diabetes type 2 it is important to take extra caution to prevent the development of breast cancer by balancing hormones naturally.
Chemicals & Toxins
Some of the chemicals used in foods, food growing, personal care products, cosmetics, the air we breathe, plastics and cleaning products mimic estrogen inside our body. These chemicals are called xeno-estrogens. These synthetic xeno-estorgens are much more powerful than estrogen made inside the human body causing extreme estrogen dominance. Too much estrogen is a problem not only because of the health symptoms we already discussed but because estrogen stimulates cells to grow and divide, which is needed for the development of sex organs, but can spiral out of control. An excess of estrogen in the body has been linked to hormone cancers. Cancer cells continue to grow and divide without any regulation or control. Too much estrogen only feeds this process. BPA, one xeno-estrogen, is mainly found in hard plastics, but residues have been found in virtually all plastic products. In a recent study, scientists conducted lab tests on more than 20 top-brand baby bottles along with more than 450 plastic food and beverage-packages, and found virtually all leached chemicals that acted like the hormone estrogen, even though many were free of BPA. "Baby bottles, plastic bags, plastic wrap, clamshell food containers, stand-up pouches: Just about anything you can think of that's made of plastic that food or beverages are wrapped up in, we found this activity," said study author Stuart Yaniger, vice president of research and product development at PlastiPure. These chemicals are more rapidly leeched out of plastic and into foods when the food is wet. Taking wet store-bought organic produce and placing it in soft plastic bags at the grocery store poses a potentially very serious health risk. Instead, buy reusable fabric mesh produce bags or just throw all your produce into one of your cloth reusable grocery bags.
Other chemicals are endocrine disruptors which mean they disrupt the hormone process. From interfering with the making of hormones, to the process of transporting hormones, these chemicals prevent a healthy hormone cycle.
The best way to eliminate xeno-estrogens and balance hormones naturally is to avoid them all together. You can do this by reducing exposure to toxins, using only organic body care, cosmetic and cleaning products and never heating food in plastic which causes these chemicals to leak into food.
Carrying excess weight causes hormones to become imbalanced. Fat cells contain an enzyme called armomatase. This enzymes converts testosterone into estrogen. The more fat cells you have, the more of this enzyme your body is producing. Eventually by converting all testosterone into estrogen your body ends up in a state of estrogen dominance.
There are many important health reasons for finding and staying at your naturally balanced weight. Balancing hormones naturally is one of the most important for women.
In order for your body to be able to create a healthy supply of hormones, it needs a good supply of nutrients. Minerals, vitamins and healthy fats are all needed for your body to create hormones. Vitamin D, zinc and good fats such as those found in nuts and seeds, coconut and olive oils are used by your body to manufacture hormones. If your body is deficient, depleted or missing some of these key nutrients hormone production slows. Vitamin D, for instance, plays an integral role in the formation of healthy hormones, however it is known more then 80% of the population is deficient in this key nutrient. Nutrients are the foundation and building blocks for all good health including healthy hormone production. Refined foods actually interfere with mineral and nutrient absorption and assimilation eventually creating a nutrient deficient. Addressing deficiencies through cleansing, whole, organic foods and nutrient dense raw foods and juices is vital to assisting your body in balancing hormones naturally.
Hormone Laden Foods
A large portion of our food supply is now contaminated with synthetic hormones. Cows were not created to make gallons of milk each and every day for human consumption. Their bodies do not not naturally produce milk in these quantities. To increase milk production and corresponding profits, the dairy industry regularly gives cows synthetic hormones to increase their milk supply These hormones are passed along in their milk and end up in your body by consuming in-organic dairy products. This includes refined products that utilize dairy in the food making process. This additional hormone intake, through the consumption of dairy, causes major internal hormone imbalance. Organic dairy does not use hormones, so if you are a dairy consumer, organic is a must.
You may think you don't eat much soy if you don’t drink soy milk or eat tofu. But soy is in almost everything. Most restaurants use soybean oil to cook with, and most packaged and processed foods contain soybean oil and/or soy lecithin. Most of the meat and dairy we consume is from animals fed soy. Most mayonnaise and salad dressings contain soybean oil.
It is okay to eat soy in small amounts, everything in balance, and is best when naturally fermented (like naturally fermented soy sauce, miso, tempeh, or natto).