Posted on by Margo Gladding
Our bodies produce numerous hormones, all of which are all extremely important for all aspects of our health and well-being. Hormones work together in a delicate balance to influence mood, energy levels, metabolism, digestion, reproductive function, and much more. Because of their interconnectedness, too little or too much of one or more hormones can have a significant impact on one’s mental, physical, and emotional health.
Hormone imbalances are a common root cause of many chronic health concerns for both men and women. Symptoms such as weight gain, depression and anxiety, insomnia, digestive issues, fatigue, hair loss/hair thinning, weakened immune function, PMS and menopausal complaints, and low libido, can be the result of imbalances of key hormones, such as thyroid hormones, cortisol, DHEA, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and insulin.
Common Causes of Hormone Imbalances
Numerous factors can impact hormonal health. Here are some of the biggest contributors that can contribute to hormone disruption.
Chronic StressProlonged stress can cause the adrenal glands to produce high levels of cortisol and decrease DHEA levels. Elevated cortisol levels can cause blood sugar and insulin dysregulation, weight gain, suppress the immune system, compromise digestion and absorption, increase blood pressure, hamper sex hormone production, increase anxiety, and impact thyroid function. Low levels of DHEA are associated with reduced libido, insulin resistance, poor memory, and more.
Toxin ExposureToxins pose one of the biggest threats to endocrine health. Chemicals found in food, water, air, and many common products can increase the production of certain hormones, decrease production of others, mimic hormones, interfere with hormone signaling, cause premature cell death, compete with essential nutrients, bind to essential hormones, and accumulate in organs that produce hormones. Examples of common endocrine disruptors include BPA, parabens, dioxins, phthalates, fire retardants, and arsenic.
Inflammatory FoodsEating a diet that contains a lot of refined sugar, processed foods, vegetable oils, alcohol, foods you are sensitive to (such as gluten, dairy, eggs, corn, etc.), and conventional dairy and meat can cause systemic inflammation. Chronic inflammation impacts hormone signaling, which has numerous health consequences, including increased oxidative stress, immune activation, insulin resistance, infertility, weight gain, and more.
Gut IssuesThe gut microbiome plays a critical role in maintaining health and balance within the body. For example, imbalances in gut bacteria can cause estrogen to get reabsorbed into the bloodstream and result in estrogen dominance. In addition, leaky gut can increase inflammation and autoimmune risk.
Poor DetoxificationAdequate fiber intake and healthy liver function are essential to hormone balance. Constipation and a sluggish liver can cause estrogen recirculation. The liver also plays an essential role in thyroid hormone activation and inactivation, transport, and metabolism. Genetics can also impact the body’s ability to effectively detoxify.
Nutrient DeficienciesNutrients play a very important role in the production and circulation of hormones. Inadequate intake of nutrients such as vitamins D, zinc, selenium, zinc, iodine, iron, vitamin C, B vitamins, and magnesium can impact hormone production.
Diet & Lifestyle Habits that Promote Hormone Balance
Doing your best to optimize your diet and lifestyle can have a profound impact on your health and well-being. Below are some ways you can support ongoing health and help promote hormone balance.
Eat an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Your food choices play a significant role in your body’s hormone balance, toxin burden, neurotransmitter production, and microbiome health. While your diet should be individualized to meet your unique needs, there are some general recommendations that can be very helpful – for example, eating a whole-foods diet that contains high-quality protein, healthy fats, a variety of colorful vegetables, and plenty of fiber.
Moving your body regularly has numerous health benefits. All types of exercise – walking, yoga, dancing, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), etc. – help to promote hormone balance. Research shows that exercise improves insulin sensitivity, thyroid function, reduces stress hormones, and promotes sex hormone balance.
Limiting your toxin exposure is critical for all aspects of your health and wellness. As best you can, take measures to avoid toxins in your food, air, water, household, and health and beauty care products.
Prioritize Self Care
Because chronic stress is one of the biggest drivers of hormone imbalances, taking measures to manage your stress levels is vital. Spending time in nature, getting quality sleep, socializing, practicing meditation, doing activities you enjoy, taking time to rest and relax, and setting clear boundaries, are all great ways to help you prioritize your needs and decompress.
Support Detoxification Pathways
Eating cruciferous vegetables and dark leafy greens, increasing your fiber intake, sweating regularly, and getting massages are examples of helpful ways to promote the elimination of toxins from your body.
Optimize Gut Health
A healthy gut is critical to hormone balance and overall health. Your microbiome, the health of your intestinal mucosal lining, as well as your ability to digest and absorb food/nutrients has a significant impact on hormone production and regulation. Eating a diet rich in a variety of colorful vegetables and fruits, addressing any GI infections, and supplementing with probiotics, anti-inflammatory and mucosal healing nutrients, and digestive enzymes are helpful ways to support gut health.
Lab Testing for Hormonal Health
Lab testing can provide great insight into many aspects of your health, including hormone balance. Comprehensive tests, such as our Men’s Wellness Panel and Women’s Wellness Panel, look at a wide variety of biomarkers to assess overall health and include a comprehensive look into thyroid function, blood sugar levels, inflammation, adrenal health, as well as sex hormone balance.
Because gut health plays such an important role in whole body health and can impact hormones, a Digestive Health Panel is an excellent functional lab test to consider. Stool testing assesses microbiome balance, can detect the presence of pathogens, measures inflammation, and can alert you to how well you are digesting your food. A stool analysis can help to determine root causes impacting many aspects of your health.
Supplements for Hormone Balance
Depending on which hormones need to be balanced, there are many supplement options available. Sometimes taking individual amino acids, vitamins, minerals, or herbs is the best way to address imbalances, and sometimes taking synergistic formulas is the right approach. Working with a nutrition expert can help to create a tailored plan designed specifically to meet your unique needs.
A healthy thyroid requires specific nutrients to work properly. L-tyrosine, zinc, selenium, and vitamins A & D are some examples of key nutrients needed for thyroid function. Pathway Thyroid Support contains these ingredients and more, to promote thyroid hormone production, thyroid hormone receptor structure and function, as well as thyroid hormone activation and metabolic health. This formula can be helpful for addressing an underactive thyroid.
Chronic physical, emotional, and mental stress, environmental toxins, and overdoing caffeine or sugar are examples of factors that can overstimulate the adrenal glands. Over time, the adrenals can become “fatigued” and result in an abnormal stress response, low energy, and poor immune function. While addressing the underlying triggers causing your adrenal fatigue is critical, providing your adrenals with extra support can be a helpful way to help your body cope with stress. The herb ashwagandha has rejuvenating and anti-inflammatory properties and can be very helpful for exhaustion.
Blood Sugar Balance
Diet and exercise are very important aspects of helping the body maintain healthy blood sugar levels. When extra support is needed, nutrients and herbs can help support the insulin producing cells of the pancreas, aid in glucose metabolism, and provide antioxidant protection. Examples of beneficial nutrients and herbs for blood sugar balance, include chromium, zinc, magnesium, alpha lipoic acid, gymnema, and bitter melon.
The liver plays a vital role in detoxification and is especially important for estrogen metabolism. Pure Encapsulations DIM Detox is an excellent formula designed to support detoxification and cellular health. Research shows that broccoli sprouts, calcium-d-glucarate, and lignans promote healthy hormone detoxification. In addition, milk thistle, alpha lipoic acid, and NAC are powerful antioxidants that provide healthy cellular protection. And, amino acids, such as taurine, glycine, and methionine support healthy bile production and aid in the clearance of toxins.
Hormone balance is essential for a healthy sex drive. Numerous factors can play a role, but stress is often a major contributor to a diminished libido. Nutrients and herbs can help to enhance sexual vitality for men and women by supporting hormone balance and easing stress. Two great formulas include, Bluebonnet Intimate Essentials for Her and Intimate Essentials for Him.
Your Personalized Plan for Hormone Balance
Hormones play such an important role in overall health and are very interconnected with one another. Imbalances are common and can be caused by a variety of factors, including diet, genetics, nutritional deficiencies, stress levels, and exposure to toxins. Identifying your specific hormone imbalances and taking steps to address root causes can help to optimize your health. Working with a Village Green nutrition expert, such as a nutritionist or naturopathic doctor, can help you determine the best approach for you.
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