Hormonal balance- defeating menopausal symptoms, PMS, weight gain around the midline
The body’s work, when in harmony, is fine tuned to perfection. It has millions of different processes and chemical reactions, directed by hormones and nerve signals.
When one of the hormones is out of balance, the whole system collapses, leading to a chain reaction of niggles, pains, and eventually proper diseases.
All hormones are important, but the sex hormones progesterone and estrogen play a particularly large role in very common female trouble, such as PMS, weight gain (especially around the waist), mood disorders, lack in energy, acne, hair loss, decreased libido, up to endometriosis or ovarian cysts and breast cancer.
Only because so many of us girls and women have trouble in the week leading up to menstruating, or the years before menopause, does not mean it has to be like that. One major cause of all these is an imbalance in sex hormones, progesterone and estrogen.
As women, we always fluctuate, but a common cause of the above mentioned problems, is that estrogen gets dominant in relation to progesterone- we develop ‘estrogen dominance’.
The other problem us females experience either after menopause or hysterectomy, is a decrease in both of those hormones.
There are several causes that can lead up to it, or play a role in both situations:
- Substances in washing detergents, cosmetics, toxins, that mimic estrogen, and increase its level in our body
- Stress: it steals the precursor for progesterone, leaving the body unable to produce enough of this substance.
- Diet: a diet high in inflammatory foods such as grains, processed foods, deficient in important vitamins and nutrients
- A deficient liver, that has trouble detoxing our body from all the ingested toxins
Luckily, there are a few simple tricks you can do to balance your sex hormone and other important anti-ageing hormone levels, before having to reach for synthetic hormone replacements that have nasty side effects.
Treating hormone imbalances requires a whole-body approach; the best approaches are often preventive and involve diet, exercise and other lifestyle-based strategies. As mentioned above, if you have insufficient levels of progesterone to counter excessive estrogen, this imbalance can be further exacerbated by chronic stress. Therefore, your answer might not necessarily lie in taking hormones, but rather addressing your stress levels so that your body can normalize your hormone levels naturally.
A healthful diet, low in processed foods (which are high in health-harming sugars/fructose, grains, genetically engineered ingredients, trans fats, processed salt, and other chemical additives) and high in whole organic foods, along with regular exercise, can also go a long way to keeping your hormones balanced as you age.
- The Paleolithic diet, such as outlined in the Naked Treats booklet, which includes fermented and cultured foods, promotes healthy hormone levels, even as you age.
- Unsprouted grains, sugar or fructose decrease seven of the 12 most important hormones
- Alcohol decreases your human growth hormone (HGH), one of your most potent built-in anti-aging hormones. Having just one alcoholic drink per day can decrease your HGH by 75 percent.
- Foods that support thyroid such as seafood will help hormonal balance
- High-quality protein from meat and fish, as well as healthy fats such as egg yolk, lard, and butter, will improve progesterone and DHEA secretion, as will an otherwise healthy Paleolithic (read: unprocessed, nutrient-rich organic) diet.
Make sure you get enough of those if you are low in either just progesterone or both sex hormones:
- Magnesium supplements improve your sex hormone levels, including your testosterone and HGH.
- Progesterone can also be increased by several nutritional supplements, including vitamin A. As a general rule, fat-soluble vitamins will have a beneficial effect on sex hormones.
- Phytoestrogens: Consuming plenty of phytoestrogens (plant-estrogens) such as licorice and alfalfa before menopause can also help moderate your day-to-day estrogen levels so that when menopause comes, the drop won’t be so dramatic. Just don’t make the mistake of using unfermented soy, which can wreak havoc on your health in a number of different ways.
- Optimize your vitamin D levels: This is a must for gene regulation and optimal health.
- Polyphenols: Certain polyphenols have also been shown to have some HRT-like benefits without the drawbacks, and are associated with a lowered risk of heart disease. Royal Maca seems to be an amazing adaptogenic herbal solution for menopause that has helped many women. Be sure to avoid the inexpensive varieties, as they typically don’t work. If you chose this option, make sure to obtain the authentic version from Peru.
- Animal-based omega-3 fat: You’ll also want to get plenty high-quality animal-based omega-3 fats, such as krill oil
- Black cohosh: While dismissed by ACOG as having no scientific foundation, Black cohosh may indeed help regulate body temperature and hot flashes in some women.
- Milk thistle to help the liver detox
All of the above have been shown to have adaptive properties. If estrogen is too low, they will increase our body’s response. If estrogen is too high, they will lower it. All of them will help increase progesterone.
They basically act as a balancer, no matter what the disbalance is.
However, if you are low in progesterone only, with a dominance in estrogen, avoid, or decrease following estrogen boosting substances, and see how you go:
- Nuts, soy and legumes
The Hormone GABA, which plays a major role in overall hormone production and how deep your sleep is- hence how well you keep up your energy levels throughout the day.
Adhering to the Paleolithic food guidelines, described in the Miani booklet, will, next to all the other health benefits, also boost GABA:
A diet high in high quality protein and fats, and some varied vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach, walnuts, citrus, bananas, beets, and mushrooms boost GABA. Animal products such as eggs, cod, gelatin, whitefish, chicken, beef, scallops. Especially organ meat.
Organic green tea has been sown to greatly enhance GABA activity.
Finally, exercise and meditation can enhance hormone activity. The calmer someone is, the more likely it is that he will be able to produce proper amounts of hormones. Some physical activities allow the mind and body to enter into calmed and relaxed state. For this reason, many natural health practitioners recommend yoga as a means of increasing GABA. Meditation and light forms of exercise such as walking also fit into that recommendation.
I hope this helps, let me know how you go with it! ☺