50% off your first week of the 4 Week Challenge with code GOAL50

Five Foundations to Balance Your Hormones

Hormones have a profound impact on our health and general wellbeing, and are scientifically known as chemical messengers that help to support various bodily functions. From helping us to fall asleep to telling us when we’re hungry, hormones play a fundamental role in keeping our mind and body in check. Experiencing hormonal imbalances comes with an array of not-so-pleasant bodily symptoms including chronic fatigue, fertility complications and weight management issues.

So, are there ways to balance hormones naturally through diet and lifestyle? The short answer is – yes.

Read on to explore the five foundations to balance your hormones from the inside-out, all backed by a nutritionist.

Foundation 1: Supporting digestion and elimination

Adding bitter foods to your diet may improve the digestion of healthy fats and the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins such as D, E, A and K. Green tea, citrus fruits, turmeric, ginger, dandelion greens and rocket may support the production of a hormone called cholecystokinin (CKK) to be released into the gut. This hormone stimulates the pancreas to release digestive enzymes, which in turn promotes the movement of food through the gastrointestinal tract, hence keeping digestion on track.

Increasing insoluble dietary fibre is essential for promoting bowel clearance of metabolites, which may support balanced hormone levels. Plant-based foods with insoluble fibre include quinoa, brown rice, legumes, almonds and dark leafy greens such as Kale. Soluble fibre may maintain balanced blood sugar and cholesterol levels, as well as increasing the diversity of the microbiome by acting as a prebiotic, or in other words, a food source for ‘good’ bacteria in the gut. Plant-based foods with soluble fibre include chia seeds, lentils, nuts, beans and apples.

Foundation 2: Building the microbiome

Focusing on improving your gut microbiome, which is composed of trillions of bacteria, fungi and other microbes, may be associated with balanced hormones as it is suggested that many hormones are produced by beneficial bacteria in the gut. Hence, it may be possible that the gut microbiome itself directly influences our hormone levels.

So, how does one improve their gut microbiome in the first place?

Focusing on a whole-foods, plant-centric diet abundant in vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds and herbal teas is a good starting point. Adding in probiotic, plant-based foods including kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha and miso, is highly effective as they have been shown to increase the quantity of beneficial bacteria in the gut.

Additionally, prebiotic, plant-based foods such as chicory root, apples, dandelion greens, artichoke, garlic, onion and leeks are equally vital as they may provide a food source for friendly bacteria to flourish. For a hassle-free option, try our Berry Gut Health shot, containing millions of live cultures to support your microbiome.

Foundation 3: Supporting thyroid hormone synthesis and metabolism

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the neck that produces hormones that play a key role in bodily functions including metabolism, brain function, temperature regulation, heart function and muscle control.

Micronutrients, namely iodine, zinc and selenium, are needed for healthy thyroid hormone production and function. Incorporating relevant dietary changes is a fantastic choice for those aiming to support their thyroid health naturally. Iodine is commonly found in seaweed varieties (nori, kelp, kombu, wakame). Zinc is plentiful in legumes, kidney beans, pumpkin seeds, almond and cashew nuts. Selenium is available in abundance in brazil nuts; typically, consuming only 1-3 brazil nuts per day is sufficient to meet daily selenium needs for most people.

There is also growing research suggesting a positive correlation between gut dysfunction and risk of autoimmune thyroid diseases. Therefore, supporting intestinal microbiota may have a positive impact on thyroid health and function.

Foundation 4: Supporting detoxification and reducing the toxic load

In our everyday lives, we are exposed to a plethora of chemicals through our environment, what we choose to consume and the products that we use. Xenoestrogens are a class of chemicals that can negatively affect hormonal balance by mimicking the hormone oestrogen, which is synthesised in the body, leading to the onset of various types of hormone disorders. Common sources of xenoestrogens include plastics and pesticides, as well as personal care products (particular cosmetics, shampoos, body lotions and perfumes), medication and environmental pollutants.

Focusing on certain dietary and lifestyle tweaks is necessary to support the body’s detoxification pathways and elimination of harmful xenoestrogens, which in turn helps to balance hormone levels. Choosing organic produce where possible and incorporating cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and kale may be beneficial.

On top of this, adding green tea may be helpful for supporting detoxification thanks to its high antioxidant content and increasing intake of foods abundant in prebiotics such as oats, banana and chicory may promote healthy bowel movements for the excretion of toxins.

Foundation 5: Managing stress levels

Stress can lead to a variety of hormone alterations, and in particular it causes an increase in the hormone cortisol, which helps the body to deal with stress over long periods of time. Elevated cortisol levels may cause a myriad of symptoms such as weight gain, acne vulgaris and fatigue, as well as chronic health conditions such as increase in blood pressure, atherosclerosis and diabetes.

Relaxation techniques including meditation, deep breathing exercises and journaling may be an effective way to reduce or manage stress. Focusing on getting at least seven hours of sleep per night may also be one of the best ways to deal with stress, and eliminating stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol may boost sleep quality by supporting the body’s sleep/wake cycle. Limiting exposure to blue light from screens approximately 60-90 minutes and engaging in non-digital activities like reading a book in dimmed light or following a guided meditation may also improve sleep.

Ensuring sufficient intake of vitamin B6 is important as well since it is depleted during times of stress and is involved in the production of mood-boosting hormones, serotonin and norepinephrine, as well as the regulation of the body clock through facilitating the synthesis of melatonin.

 

Author: Plenish Nutritionist, Katie Morley
DipNT, mBANT, mANP, CNHC
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.holsome.uk