How To Balance Hormones: What can women do?
Knowledge is Power.
Enrich your world with wisdom.
Below are key points for hormonal wellness; for you or the woman you love.
Why Wellness Matters
Women are increasingly experiencing health and wellness difficulties.
Signs that women are getting more unwell include:
- early puberty is now seen in 8 year old girls
- depression affects twice as many women as men
- PMS affects up to 75% of women
- infertility is at epidemic proportions, up to 12% of women
- solutions to hormonal imbalance tend to be tried clinically in women before proven; with consequences including increased risk of cancer, stroke (in older women), blood clots
- breast cancer risk and percentage of people affected - incidence and prevalence - has increased in the last 50 years: 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer
The above are changes linked to hormonal imbalances. Before I talk about what to do from a wellness and prevention point of view, let's look at this topic more closely.
What exactly are hormones?
Hormones are molecules that signal systems in the body. Hormones can be made up of three different structures:
(1) eicosanoids which are fatty acids
(2) steroids which are made from cholesterol
(3) amino acid / protein derivatives made from protein
Hormonal Balance: Diet
The key hormones influenced directly by diet are insulin, cortisol, and adrenalin. These three then influence other hormones.
For women specifically, an estrogen progesterone imbalance can lead to numerous problems. These problems include hormonal cancers, endometriosis, PMS, uterine fibroids, fibrocystic breasts, cervical dysplasia, and infertility.
You can restore balance through the following:
- increased exercise
- weight loss
- increase dietary fibre
- reduce dietary fat; use omega 3 fats
- increase phytoestrogen intake
- use only pure beauty products
- sweat to release toxins and endocrine disruptors
- reduce inflammation
- consider going off the birth control pill
You can enhance estrogen metabolism and detoxification by taking:
- essential fatty acids
- indole-3-carbinol in cruciferous vegetables
- B vitamins
- vitamin D
Avoid the following:
- saturated and trans fatty acids
- refined sugars and carbohydrates
- commercial livestock food which has xenobiotics, antibiotics, and added hormones
- alcohol (more than 3 glasses a week is not good)
- processed foods and artificial sweeteners
- dairy products
- high glycemic index foods
- high fat diets
- exposure to pesticides
- exposure to hormone-mimics
Why are the above important?
Diet and exercise and weight loss: being overweight means that an enzyme called aromatase converts androgens to estrogen, leading to estrogen excess.
High fat diets lead to changes in the result of estrogen use, with high fat turning on more production of cancer causing molecules, and less of cancer preventing molecules. A better choice is omega 3 fatty acids from non-predatory fish and flax seeds. The lignins in flax seeds also help bind and remove estrogen.
High sugar or high glycemic index diets lead to estrogen being more "free" or available to affect cells, instead of being bound to a proteins in the blood that carry it out of the blood.
Alcohol blocks estradiol detoxification and thus increases the risk of breast cancer.
HIgh fibre diets, and diets rich in lignins found in flax seeds, and the bran layer of grains, beans, and seeds, help remove estrogen from your system by binding to it so the liver can see it and detoxify it. Fibre and lignins also help your gut microbiome, and increase the protein that binds to sex hormones so there is less free estrogen circulating around.
Indole-3-carbinol in cruciferous vegetables - broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage - increases the estrogens that protect from cancer.
Four-ward: Behaviour Change
Four key factors to balance your hormones:
Every morning before you go to work or your responsibilities, take 30 minutes to exercise. This can be walking, running, cycling, swimming . . . find something that increases your cardiovascular output. Do this as least three times a week, ideally five times. Consider hot yoga which helps your body sweat out endocrine disruptors.
What you want to see on your grocery counter at check out:
- broccoli or cauliflower or cabbage
- flax seeds
- high fibre vegetables
- B vitamins
- Vitamin D
Consult with a certified professional as to which supplements can be beneficial for you. Consider talking with a naturopath, functional medicine doctor, or your family doctor. Supplements to inquire about include but are not limited to:
- B vitamins
- Vitamin D
* mimic estrogen and may create gastric disturbance as are found in beans and soy
** may create an unpleasant reaction, note: may augment anti-cancer therapies
Stress increases the activity of estrogen in the body and reduces the amount of progesterone. Use a variety of techniques to de-stress including the following:
Wishing you the best, always,
Please note: The above is for wellness + prevention and does not replace the advice of a medical professional.
Key Feature Article inspiring this post, by Dr. Mark Hyman: 2007. The Life Cycles of Women: Restoring Balance.
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