Our bodies cannot maintain life without hormones. Estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, thyroid, adrenals…everything has a purpose. And because these hormones all work together to create a functioning body, if one of these key components is “out of whack” then there is not balance and it can cause major issues. I feel like this topic has gotten a little more popular in this day and age; maybe its the food quality, the lifestyle choices, the fast pace environments or maybe it is just because we have amazing technology out there now that can detect these things. Whatever it is, it is popular, and for a good reason! Hormones can get very messy, complicated and overwhelming so I wanted to simplify it into the 3 S’s for balancing your hormones.
If you know me, or have followed my journey for long you know that I suffered from hormone imbalance for about 1 year. June 2017 I started to realize that I wasn’t quite myself. I was bloated, constipated, unhappy, anxious, tired and I would snap at people if they said the wrong thing (or what I thought was the wrong thing). I knew something needed to change, but I didn’t know where to start. I had previously done an intense 10 month “diet” phase that left my metabolism totally burnt out and my body was 100% working against me in so many ways.
During the course of finding out what was wrong (June 2017-June 2018) I had:
– saw a naturopathic doctor that started me on supplements for hormone imbalance
– got off brith control pills
– had blood tests, food intolerance tests, stool tests done
– saw my regular doctor as well as a gastroenterologist and gynocologist
– researched every possible health condition from Candida, SIBO, PCOS, Lyme, Dysbiosis, IBS…everything
– tried the keto diet
By the time June 2018 rolled around I had decided that I needed to just let me body relax. I was stressing myself out about all these health issues, bills, moving that I really had no idea if I still had symptoms. So, I began eating in a surplus in hopes of putting on some weight to allow my body to find a new “rest”. I also started eating specific foods that help with hormone balancing, as well as detoxing and scaling back my exercise.
So here we are now, August 2018, and I….feel awesome! I finally have my period/cycle back, I have very few bloat/digestive issues (besides a few food intolerances I think I have always ad), my anxiety is greatly decreased, my mood is enhanced and I feel alive again! I think the two things that really helped me were research and time. I researched enough to try something new and really educate myself on it, and then gave it some time to work. Right now I do not know if my hormones are actually level (I have not had blood work done for serval months) but I do know that a lot of my symptoms have gone away! It was such a long road; I spent a lot of money (on tests/doctors/supplements) and was totally discouraged at times. But I pulled through. My guess (after much research) was that I was suffering from being on brith control for 10 years, as well as possible mold in my last apartment. Either way, I know I may not be fully out of the woods yet, I am much further along than I was before. So, that is why I want to help you; to give you some insight and 3 simple things to take into account if you are suffering from hormone imbalances.
Although these symptoms can be from a lot of different things, looking to your hormones first is a great place to start!
• weight gain
• poor digestion
• dry skin patches/rashes
• muscle aches/stiffness
• thinning/dry hair
• racing heart rate
• low libido
• blurred vision
• increased body temperature/sweating
• heavy/irregular periods, or missed periods, or loss of period (amenorrhea)
• dry/darkening of skin (especially along neck creases and underneath breasts)
• pain during sex
• night sweats
• hirsutism (excessive hair growth on the face)
Curing hormone imbalance does not happen overnight, and it definitely takes a lot of patience. These 3 S’s are not specific to one hormone imbalance, but rather a blanket statement to giving you a starting point.
Stress is HUGE for hormone health, overall health for that matter, and it usually is overlooked. People often talking about how they are “busy” or “overwhelmed” yet can’t figure out why they have brain fog and heart palpitations. If you want to learn more about the stress response in the body or how stress can cause a rise in the hormone cortisol you can read my blogs! But, in this case, I am talking about stress causing inflammation in the body that then causes a whole slew of other symptoms. It is important to find something that helps decrease your stress. Maybe its yoga, reading, writing, walking. Whatever it is, find time for t everyday. Because stress in the body causes the adrenal glands to be overworked, and when we compensate with more stress (exercise, caffeine, crappy foods) and then all of a sudden our immune system and metabolism are compromised. So, step one in hormone healing is getting stress under control.
Sleep means recharging. Recharging means resetting. Resetting means balance. Balance means health. It is amazing to me that when we get STRESSED and overworked, sleep is the first to go. We think we can sleep less and work more and that is going to fix our problems. Well, it might help you hit the work deadline or muster up a killer hangover but it isn’t going to solve your problems. It is actually going to cause you more problems, that are more serious. Like the state of your health. Sleep should be our top priority because it restores us and helps us get through the day. If we do not get the proper amount of sleep each night, our body ends up being in overdrive And if we are in this overdrive state for too long it causes….hormone imbalances because our system is not having proper time to reset at night. This is step two to healing your hormones.
Food is fuel. Food is going to either help us or hurt us. The right food can heal our bodies, nourish our system, balance our hormones and help us live with natural energy. The wrong food can cause inflammation, hormone imbalance, irritability, brain fog, cravings, low energy and even chronic disease. So, if you are looking to heal a hormone imbalance (or make sure you do not end up with one) you need to make sure you are eating real, whole foods. This means foods that do not need a package or a nutrition label. Foods for balancing hormones specifically are cruciferous vegetables, fresh herbs (turmeric, ginger, garlic, parsley, cilantro), avocado, nuts/seeds (seed cycling for female hormones), broccoli sprouts and sea vegetables. A great place to start in the food category is just decreasing processed foods. Stay away from oils like vegetable, canola and sunflower. Eating real food is step one, from there you can refine it even more based on what hormones you are having trouble with. FOOD is the third step to hormone balance.
With that….. yes, I will be he first to tell you that LOW CARB, LOW CALORIE, LOW anything else diets are going to cause you a lot of harm in the future. I wish I knew then what I know now, but at least being able to share this will you all is going to help someone. So if you are chasing a number on the scale or a size of a pair of pants and are restricting your food intake or increasing your calorie burn to crazy amounts per day, you are going to be doing damage to your body. Damage that is incredibly hard to reverse. I will also tell you that those numerical goals you want won’t make you happy. And the especially won’t be sustainable. We NEED to start thinking about health from an internal point of view; how does food fuel us, how can we feel good, how can we lower risk of disease. Those are the things that are going to make you happy, healthy and give you results you want!
I am not a doctor and this is not meant to be used as medical advice. I recommend consulting your doctor about your hormones, getting tests done and creating a game plan together. If you do not have a doctor that you feel is listening to you, find a new one. We must both have a support system and be our own advocate when it comes to health and wellness.