Our hormones are so crucial to our health and wellbeing. Hormones are in charge of many essential bodily systems and functions, so any type of hormonal imbalance can wreak havoc on your body and mind. Luckily, we can do a lot to get our hormones back on track with a couple of simple lifestyle and dietary changes.
Signs of hormonal havoc
Hormones are incredibly delicate things, and a number of factors can cause your hormones to become out of balance. These include high stress levels, irregular blood sugars, extreme dieting, nutrient deficiencies and being on the pill or another contraceptive devices that alter hormones. It can also be the result of a loaded liver, due to excessive alcohol consumption, or oestrogen dominance. Some of the main symptoms of hormonal imbalance are: PMS, irregular menstrual cycle, acne, fluid retention, low mood, irritability and weight gain or difficulty losing weight.
Start a balancing plan
To rebalance your hormones you’ll need to adopt some new lifestyle behaviours and eating habits. This won’t happen overnight, I recommend starting with a four-week protocol. Be patient and keep going. Your body will love you for it and you’ll be healthier and happier than ever!
Change your eating
Firstly, you’ll need to avoid the main dietary culprits for hormonal imbalance. This means limiting your gluten and dairy intake for the next few weeks. Try to remove refined sugar and artificial sweeteners from your diet and use more nutrient dense alternatives, like raw honey or stevia for your sweet fix. You’ll also need to remove soft drinks (even diet!) – you can replace it with sparkling water with lemon or kombucha. Have no more than two servings of fruit a day and enjoy fruits that are lower in fructose like berries or green apples. It also means cutting out processed foods, pretty much anything out of a packet! And limit coffee to one per day before 10am. Enjoy herbal tea, dandelion tea or a caffeine free chai tea instead!
Then, add in some goodies to boost your nutrition and help your body heal. Start adding one to two tablespoons of extra fibre into your breakfast (psyllium husk, oat bran or chia seeds will do). Eat plenty of greens sautéed in coconut oil or olive oil with herbs and spices for flavour and extra nutrition.
Speaking of veggies, eat lots of cooked broccoli, brussels sprouts and cauliflower to detox the liver. Ensure that at each meal half of your plate is salad or vegetables and features a good-quality protein. Opt for organic, grass-fed sources with meat, chicken, eggs and sustainably caught salmon or barramundi (I recommend avoiding canned tuna). Or, if you’re plant-based, organic legumes like chickpeas and lentils.
Having good fats with every meal is also essential, like avocado, nuts, seeds, tahini or cold-pressed olive oil. Finally, try adding one to two tablespoons of fermented veggies to your main meals. This will help strengthen your gut microbiome, which is an important part of hormonal production. And, of course, make sure to drink two litres of filtered water daily.
Switch up your lifestyle
There are many lifestyle factors that can contribute to hormonal imbalance, like environmental toxins, too much high intensity exercise and the big one… STRESS. To combat these, I find a few small, healthy habits can really help.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, try placing your legs up against a wall for 10 minutes before bed – this helps calm the nervous system. I also love a cup of chamomile tea for its soothing effects. Make a commitment to going into the Stress-Free Zone for 10-20 minutes everyday, that means no social media or technology – and use the time to meditate, read a good book, have a bath, whatever makes you feel good instead! Prioritise rest for the next four weeks – swapping out high intensity exercise classes for yoga, and make sure you have two rest days. I also suggest swapping chemical based household products and chemical based skin products to all natural and organic products – as these can really lighten the load on your liver and assist in hormonal balance.
Be kind to yourself
With some time and patience with yourself and your body, you really can balance your hormones naturally. Our bodies are truly wondrous – by making a few of the adjustments I mention above, you’ll find yourself happier and healthier than ever! My 8-week online Program has a hormone and gut healing protocol that is so helpful for this too – you can find out more at www.theprogram.jessicasepel.com.
Nutritionist and best-selling health author Jessica Sepel is one of the founding members of the Women’s Health Fitfluential Network. Jess believes in inspiring us to “nourish our bodies rather than punish them […] I believe our diet culture has caused women to have a complex relationship with food and their bodies."