According to Holly Lucille's "Creating and Maintaining Balance: A Woman's Guide to Safe, Natural Hormone Health," more and more women are suffering from hormonal imbalances from PMS to early menopause. Our modern environment and lifestyle, with factors such as pollution, processed food and stress, certainly don't help. Discovering the cause of the problem and correcting it naturally is a healthier solution than simply masking the symptoms with medication. Exchanging your fast-food lifestyle for a whole, organic, unprocessed diet is always beneficial to your health, but especially so if you want to correct your hormone imbalance.
Causes and Symptoms
An imbalanced endocrine system can be caused by stress, lack of exercise, being overweight, poor nutrition, toxins and medications. Hormonal imbalance can also be caused by pollution and chemicals that infiltrate our bodies both by our consuming them or via absorption through our skin.
Symptoms of hormonal imbalance vary among women of different ages, and may include fatigue, hot flushes, anxiety, depression, poor memory, headaches, low sex drive, weight gain or loss, hair loss, acne and symptoms often associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS), such as bloating, tender breasts and moodiness.
Whatever you eat or drink, try to buy organic as much as possible to eliminate your intake of harmful pesticides used on produce or hormones and antibiotics often fed to livestock. Make whole, unprocessed foods the centre of your diet. Detoxing your body and losing weight benefit hormone balance, because excess oestrogen and toxins are stored in fat cells.
Make sure you're getting enough essential fatty acids (EFAs) in the form of omega-3 and omega-6 from fish, shellfish, flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, leafy green vegetables and walnuts. According to Dr. John Lee's "What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Premenopause," EFAs help to balance prostaglandin, one of the body's hormones that, if deficient, can cause PMS.
Eat plenty of phytoestrogens. These are plant compounds that are both mildly oestrogenic and antiestrogenic, which means that they provide a balancing effect by mimicking oestrogen in the body's oestrogen receptors and preventing xenoestrogens--stronger, synthetic, toxic hormones--from attaching. Phytoestrogenic foods include leafy green vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, chick peas, beans and lentils.
Garlic is a powerful antioxidant that inhibits cancer growth by flushing cells of carcinogens. It also cleans the lymph system and enhances thyroid function---all of which work to balance the endocrine system.
Kombucha is a raw, fermented tea that is filled with active enzymes and antioxidants. Among many other things, it supports body alkalinity which helps restore natural balance in the body as well as detoxifying and strengthening the immune and glandular systems.
Good quality green tea has high levels of catechins, or antioxidants, that increase the production of detoxification enzymes in the body. Look for herbal teas with ingredients such as dong quai, liquorice root, dandelion root and juniper berry, which promote hormonal balance.
In addition to including a range of foods and drinks that support healthy hormones, you should eliminate harmful foods and substances that wreak havoc with your hormone health. Some of these foods are sugar, artificial sweeteners, trans fats, hydrogenated oils and high-fructose corn syrup. Try to avoid contact with synthetic chemicals such as herbicides, fumigants and industrial chemicals such as are found in many plastics, all of which are carcinogenic and disrupt the endocrine system because they "mimic or block chemicals naturally found in the body, alter hormonal levels, and thus, affect functions that these hormones control," as per the Natural Resources Defense Council. And as Lucille reminds us, the liver processes preservatives and artificial substances, but "if the liver is too busy metabolising these substances, it will be unable to process excess oestrogen and other toxins, which can lead to oestrogen dominance."
If changing your diet is still not enough, you might want to consider natural progesterone cream or a progesterone supplement like Vitex. And don't forget some very simple methods like yoga, meditation, massage, soothing music, sufficient sleep and laughter to keep your stress levels at a minimum, thereby reducing cortisol levels and keeping your hormones balanced.