1. Eat Enough Healthy Fats
Our body was never made to digest as much vegetable based oil as we typically consume these days. Not only are we consuming way too many omega-6 fatty acids from polyunsaturated vegetable oils, but we are not consuming enough beneficial Omega-3s and saturated fats. These types of fats are vital for proper cell function and especially for hormone function, as these are literally the building blocks for hormone production. When we don’t give the body adequate amounts of these fats, it must use what is available, relying on lower quality polyunsaturated fats. The biggest issue is that polyunsaturated fats are less stable and oxidize easily in the body, which can lead to inflammation and mutations within the body. This inflammation can occur in in arterial cells increasing the chance of clogged arteries. Other types of fats, especially saturated fats, are vital for hormone health and balance as the body uses fats as building blocks for hormones. For this reason,coconut oil is amazing for hormone health. It provides the necessary building blocks for hormone production, can assist weight loss, reduce inflammation, and even has antibacterial properties. Try cooking with it or even adding it to your morning coffee. Other quality sources of fats include avocados, animal fats, olive oil, grass fed meats, pastured eggs, and raw dairy (for those who tolerate it). For your omega-3s, quality seafood is also very important in your diet.
2. Limit Caffeine
Let me start this by saying, I really love coffee. A few years ago I was a cream with a splash of coffee drinker, but since, I have found the effects that even a little cream can have on my overall hormone balance and ability to burn fat throughout the day. The truth is that too much caffeine can wreak your endocrine system, especially if there are other hormone stressors involved, like pregnancy, presence of toxins or simply daily stress. Cut down the coffee if you can, or replace with herbal teas and my personal favorite, green tea.
3. Avoid Harmful Chemicals
Harmful chemicals found in pesticides, plastics, household cleaners, and even mattresses can contain hormone disrupting chemicals that mimic hormones in the body and keep the body from producing real hormones. If you struggle with hormone imbalance, avoiding these unnecessary chemicals is very important! Cook your food in glass, stainless or cast iron, avoid nonstick coated pans and avoid heating or storing foods in plastic. Consume organic produce and meat whenever possible and don’t use chemical pesticides or cleaners. Other daily use products such as deodorants, lotions and makeup can be huge sources of chemical exposure. The thousands of chemicals found in these products are not tested for safety. I would recommend limiting these and switching to natural, mineral based products.
4. Prioritize Sleep
I can’t emphasize this one enough! Without adequate sleep, hormones will not be in balance. Period. (This is the one I struggle with the most!) While you’re sleeping, your body is extremely active removing toxins, recharging the mind, and creating hormones. Skimping on sleep, even for one night, can have a tremendous impact on hormones and even one night of missed. In fact, studies have shown that if you get less than 7 hours of sleep a night, you are sleep deprived to the point where your brain acts as if it is intoxicated….in a fog and not able to clearly function. Tips to improve sleep:
- Create a soothing environment – by removing artificial light, optimizing temperature and sound, and other stimuli.
- Create a daily routine to help support your natural circadian rhythms. Wake up and go to bed at the same time, even on weekends to keep your hormone cycle regular.
- Eat a high protein/high fat snack a few hours before bed (7pm or earlier) or consume a lot at dinner.
- Get a lot of natural light during the day, and spend at least 30 minutes outside each day if possible. The wide-spectrum of natural lighting helps boost serotonin levels which balance melatonin levels at night.
- Turn off your device – as much as possible after the sun goes down. This will reduce blue light and help you sleep better (it is also easier on the eyes).
- Drink enough water during the day so you don’t wake up feeling thirsty.
- Take a salt bath – about an hour before bed with some relaxing music or a great book.
- Stretch before bed to relax muscles.
5. Exercise The Right Way
For those with hormone imbalance, intense extended exercise can actually make the problem worse in the short term. Sleep is much more important, but once you are in a good sleep pattern, it’s time to focus on your workouts. While extended cardio can be bad, short bursts of heavy lifting and HIIT based workouts can be beneficial since they increase your cortisol for short amounts of time and allow it to come back down.
6. Support Digestive Health
The digestive system has much more of an impact on hormones than many of us realize. An imbalance in the gut can translate to an imbalance in hormones. Serotonin, a necessary neurotransmitter for sleep/stress balance is more concentrated in the gut than even in the brain! It may be alarming to also hear that 70% of our immune system is found in the gut. If you are someone who gets sick often, it may very well NOT be because you are around a lot of germs…your poor gut health may be to blame.
7. Fix Your Leptin
Leptin is a master hormone, it’s the hormone that controls hunger and the feeling of being satisfied. When leptin is out of balance or if you are resistant to it, no other hormones will balance well. Balancing leptin will also help boost fertility, make weight loss easier, improve sleep, and lower inflammation. Some factors that contribute to leptin imbalance are consumption of high fructose corn syrup, simple carbs and sugar, high stress levels, lack of sleep, high insulin, over eating and over exercising.
8. Supplement Wisely
Other supplements may be beneficial as well especially if you are busy and struggle to eat enough fruits, veggies and lean protein during the day. Supplements such as powdered greens, protein or a meal replacement are wonderful options. That’s it! Whose feeling inspired to get their hormones in check and feel their very best?! Let us know your absolute favorite strategy in the comments! Download the FREEBIE Metabolism and Hormone Checklist HERE