Do you struggle with hormone imbalance? Perhaps you experience PMS symptoms each month. Or you notice more nervous system dysfunction as of late, such as irritability, fatigue, anxiety, lack of focus, memory loss, or insomnia? Have you been dealing with lumps, cysts, fibroids or endometriosis? Maybe you’re noticing some perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms including hot flashes or vaginal dryness? All of these are symptoms of hormone imbalance, and it would be worth exploring the root cause(s) of your discomfort and pain, so that you can find more vitality. In my practice, I have noticed three common causes of hormone imbalance.
3 Common Causes of Hormone Imbalance:
1) Nutritional Deficiency
Today, I’d like to discuss the first cause of your symptoms – nutritional deficiency. This includes a lack of certain nutrients (usually due to dietary choices) that are required to produce and convert your hormones. Specific nutrient deficiency can also be caused by poor digestion, absorption and assimilation of nutrients from foods, either from digestive issues, stress and/or genetics.
We need specific nutrients to make our hormones, as well as the enzymes, coenzymes and cofactors that are necessary for our hormone health. The two pieces that I see most often missing from the average diet are healthy fats, and sufficient good quality protein.
Although we’ve mistakenly been told to avoid fat for decades, healthy fats are absolutely essential to produce our hormones. All of our sex steroid hormones (and our stress hormone cortisol) are produced from the precursor cholesterol, which is obtained through our diet and also made by our liver.
So what are the healthy fats we should be focusing on? I suggest plant-based fats found in RAW nuts and seeds, WHOLE grains (like quinoa, barley, rye, brown and wild rice, millet, oats, etc), avocado, coconut, olives and olive oil. If it’s appropriate for you, eggs, fish, meat, seafood, and organ meats can also be consumed, with the fat!
Amino acids found in protein sources are another necessary building block for our hormones. Try to obtain your protein mainly from plant-based sources such as whole grains, nuts and seeds, beans and lentils, land and sea vegetables and fruit. This should make up at least 80% of your protein intake. Meat-based protein (including meat, fish and fermented dairy) can be supplemented for the remainder of your protein needs. Consuming these whole foods will also provide us with phytoestrogens that help to balance our estrogen levels.
What to avoid to support the rebalancing of your hormones? Sugar and processed foods definitely burden the hormone system, and should be avoided as much as possible. Processed foods such as packaged cereals, pastas and breads have most of their healthy fats and nutrients removed to improve shelf-life, and are mainly a source of quick-release starches for fuel – they don’t provide us with much nutritional value on their own.
Now that we’re eating whole foods to support our hormone balance, how can we ensure that we are digesting and absorbing the nutrients that we need from those foods? If you feel bloated, uncomfortable or notice any pain or burning during or after your meals, you need to improve your digestion! If you have less than two bowel movements each day, or if there is any straining or looseness to the stools, you likely can benefit from improving your digestion too. Here are some suggestions:
Top 3 Tips to Improve your Digestion
- Chew your food well! You’ve probably heard this before from your mother or grandmother likely, and they were correct. Chewing is the first step in the digestive process and most of us don’t do a proper job of it!
- Avoid drinking fluids with your meals, as this dilutes your stomach acid. A few sips of water is fine, but most fluids should be taken 30 minutes before your meals and at least a couple hours after meals.
- Try not to rush through your meals or multi-task while eating. We simply cannot be in the stress response AND the rest-and-digest response at the same time. So try to make your meal time a mindful practice where you appreciate, taste and enjoy your food.
Next time we’ll talk about the other two common causes of hormone imbalance: Toxicity and Stress. In the meantime, you can find out more about how food and digestion can support your hormone health by downloading my complimentary ebook ‘5 Must-Have Tools for Hormone Health’ HERE. Inside, you will find food and digestion tools that you can easily incorporate into your daily routine, and a checklist to help keep you accountable!
Any questions? I am only a phone call or an email away! Did you know that I offer complimentary 20-minute phone Discovery Sessions? This is your chance to ask me any questions, or to clarify next steps for yourself. Book yours today!