Like you, I have suffered from many hormonal imbalances. At first I believed that hormonal problems were genetic and that the causes were “unknown”. Some of you may have been told that there is little you can do about your hormones other than taking birth control pills or supplementing your body’s natural hormones. This may be the case for some women, but what I have found in my journey is something very different.
I have found that hormonal balance requires healthy digestion, stable blood sugar, and a well-functioning liver. Restoring your gut, sugar levels, and liver health will not only restore the balance of your hormones, but reverse many other seemingly unrelated ailments that may have plagued you for years, such as seasonal allergies, hives, chronic pain, depression and anxiety.
I have had the opportunity to lead large online communities of women who have gone through my hormonal balanced diet and have seen life changing results. When I asked the community about the biggest change this way of eating has created for them, I thought I’d be reading responses about weight loss, better sleep, or mental function. To my surprise, the biggest benefit women reported was that they learned to “listen” to their bodies.
This skill will set you free.
For some, simply cutting out gluten and dairy products from the diet can solve the problem of suffering. For others (and me, too), it takes some real tweaking and figuring out what foods your body loves and what it rejects. By eating “rejected” foods, you are in a state of constant inflammation, which will not lead you to hormonal balance and bliss.
I learned to cook because I had to save my life and sanity. I’m 45 years old. I had Graves’ disease, Hashimoto’s disease, estrogen dominance and hypoglycemia. I have struggled with chronic candida, heavy metal poisoning, bacterial infections and parasitic infections (many times!), and I have active Epstein-Barr virus (aka mononucleosis). Despite “good nutrition,” I had irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). I have been addicted to coffee and cigarettes for many years. My neurotransmitters at some point were so out of whack that I started abusing the one person who loved me the most, which put an end to our many future plans and hopes. And yet, despite all this, I am in better health now than I was in my 20s.
Our health is a journey, especially for those of us who have had difficult childhoods, trauma and unidentified lingering infections. This journey can be very frustrating and not rewarding, after all, I have dedicated my life resources to healing and I don’t always get the results I hope for. However, I appreciate this journey, as with every obstacle comes a deep understanding and discovery that you will benefit from.
So, back to hormones. They are responsible for how you think, feel and look. A woman with balanced hormones is cheerful, she has a good memory. She feels energized without caffeine and throughout the day, falls asleep quickly and wakes up refreshed. She is endowed with a healthy appetite and maintains her desired weight with proper nutrition. Her hair and skin glow. She feels emotionally balanced and responds to stress with grace and intelligence. Menstruation comes and goes without or with a slight intensity of PMS. She has an active sex life. She can maintain and carry a pregnancy. Entering premenopause or menopause, she easily enters a new phase of life.
Millions of women experience hormonal imbalances. The good news is that you can balance your hormones naturally and eliminate symptoms. Here are some quick ways to assess the imbalance you may be suffering from.
High cortisol levels: you are in a state of chronic stress, your adrenal glands are working very hard. The cause may be family problems, bad relationships, problems with work, finances, overwork, trauma in the past, as well as chronic digestive problems and infections.
Low cortisol: if you have low cortisol, you have had high cortisol for a while and therefore your adrenals are too tired to produce enough cortisol. It is important to get a diagnosis from a qualified doctor.
Low progesterone: low progesterone levels can be caused by excess levels of cortisol (from chronic stress) or excess estradione, an estrogen antagonist that is produced in your body or introduced externally as synthetic estrogens (known as “xenoestrogens”) from skin care and house cleaning products . High levels of cortisol are inflammatory and can block progesterone receptors, preventing progesterone from doing its job. When we are stressed, we get less progesterone.
High estrogen levels (estrogen dominance): this condition can manifest itself in several ways. You may have had more estradiol (E2), the antagonistic estrogen, compared to estriol (E3) and estrone (E1), which often happens when you have a lot of xenoestrogens or synthetic estrogens in your life. Second, you may not have enough progesterone to counter estradiol (even if your estradiol levels are in the range). Estrogen dominance can also occur when there are more antagonistic estrogen metabolites (which are by-products of estrogen metabolism). Visceral fat also produces estradiol. Women with high testosterone (and often PCOS) can also suffer from estrogen dominance. This is because testosterone is converted to estradiol during the aromatization process. Inhibiting this process can disrupt the estrogen production cycle and relieve symptoms of estrogen dominance.
Low estrogen: Decreased estrogen levels usually occur in premenopausal and menopausal women, but I have seen young women suffering from stress and a toxic lifestyle experience this as well. The ovaries produce less estrogen due to aging, stress (and high cortisol), or toxicity.
High testosterone levels (androgen dominance): the main reason is high sugar levels. Polycystic ovary syndrome is usually caused by androgen dominance. By making a change in diet, get an official diagnosis of PCOS and high testosterone.
Low Testosterone: more often than not, when the adrenal glands are exhausted, they also produce insufficient testosterone.
An underdeveloped thyroid gland (hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s disease): Unfortunately, too many thyroid disorders go undiagnosed due to incomplete tests and incorrect laboratory values used by conventional physicians. The consensus among practitioners is that 30% of the population experience subclinical hypothyroidism (i.e., symptoms are subtle). This may be an underestimation. One study in Japan found that 38% of healthy people have elevated thyroid antibodies (indicating the body’s immune system is attacking the thyroid). Another study reports that 50% of patients, mostly women, have thyroid nodules. If you have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, it was most likely caused by Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune disease. When you put out the fire in your gut and immune system, you may see your thyroid health improve and symptoms go away or go away.
Insulin or leptin resistance: If you’re eating processed carbohydrates (including cereals, rice, bread, pasta, bagels, cookies, and cakes), sugar (found in incredibly high amounts in most packaged foods), or processed proteins, you’re probably having a sugar problem. This first manifests as high or low blood sugar (you feel cranky, unfocused, light-headed, and tired when you’re hungry) and ends with a complete metabolic disorder, such as insulin or leptin resistance. Women who suffer from high testosterone usually have high blood sugar or insulin or leptin resistance. The good news is that these conditions are completely reversible with diet, exercise, detox, and stress management. The key to balance is not too much and not too little hormones. Where fat accumulates in your body can reveal the bigger picture – hormonal imbalances.
Listen to your body
You can work out the daily eating habits that work best for you. Of course, a good start is a whole-food diet and an abundance of green leafy vegetables while cutting back on processed foods, sugar, and alcohol. But there is no one-size-fits-all nutrition plan or nutrition protocol that fits every woman. You may have noticed that the same food can have different effects on you, a family member, or a friend. Maybe your best friend can’t stop talking about how wonderful quinoa is, but you find it upsets your stomach. Or maybe you love fermented vegetables as a good source of probiotics, but your colleague can’t stand them.
Healthy food for one person may be poison for another. The only way to find a diet that supports your health is to respect your body and listen to what it tells you about which foods are friends and which are enemies. Start with small changes and new recipes and see what changes in how you feel.