Feeling sluggish, stressed, bloated, and achy? You're not alone. These symptoms might seem like an everyday part of life in our busy and hyperconnected world, but they may actually indicate that your hormones are off balance. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to balance hormones naturally and get back on track.
Factors That Influence Your Hormone Levels
Stress, in particular, is a big health disrupter. Increased amounts of the stress hormone cortisol can raise your blood pressure and blood sugar. Problems with sleep, difficult PMS symptoms, frequent digestive upsets, and even headaches can also hint at a problem with your hormones.
After all, the human body is a big interconnected system. The thyroid, which secretes various hormones in its regulation of many vital body functions, works with the reproductive organs, which work with the brain and digestive organs to keep you humming along.
How to Get Back on Track
Some hormonal issues, like an underactive or overactive thyroid, polycystic ovary syndrome, or post-menopausal problems, might require direct medical help. But there are plenty of easy tweaks you can implement to balance hormones naturally.
A diet rich in healthy fats (like avocado and olive oil), whole foods (like fruits and vegetables), and good-quality carbs (like quinoa) can help balance your body by providing fuel to keep your blood sugar stable throughout the day. If you can, eat at regular intervals — no skipping meals!
Everyone likes to enjoy dessert now and then, but you should eat processed sugar (including alternative forms like high-fructose corn syrup) in moderation. When possible, you should also steer clear of added hormones in meat and dairy, as doing this can help ensure that your own hormones are working in tip-top shape.
Move your body at least a few times a week, whether it's at a fun dance class or during a weightlifting session at the gym. You probably know that regular exercise can keep your weight in check, but it's also beneficial in terms of mood, blood sugar levels, bloating, and stress.
Be More Mindful
Mindfulness is more than just a buzzword — it can actually help you be healthier. Meditation aids in relaxation, and it's also a boon for reducing inflammation and lowering your stress hormones. Try an easy, daily meditation or mindfulness exercise. There are plenty of apps to give you a head start if you're a beginner. Just a few minutes will provide a powerful benefit. Yoga is another great tool due to its positive effects on mood.
Track Your Menstrual Cycle
Sure, you probably have a general idea of when your period is due, but paying close attention to your entire menstrual cycle and the symptoms you experience (like cramps, breast tenderness, irritability, and more) can provide powerful insight about your health and hormones. Like with mindfulness, there are apps to help you understand what's happening throughout your menstrual cycle and how it can affect both physical and emotional well-being.
Get Some Zzzs
Sleep is everything! Getting an adequate amount each night is key to good health. If your endocrine system is working overtime, your sleep could suffer mightily. Cut back on caffeine, understand your sleep cycle, and work on creating an ideal sleep environment.
If you're concerned about your hormone levels, ask your doctor, midwife, or nurse practitioner to test them. Usually done through a blood test, the levels of different reproductive hormones in your bloodstream (including testosterone, DHEA, and progesterone) will be measured to tell a powerful story about your cycles, mood, and overall health. A thyroid panel is also a valuable tool in understanding hormones. Once you have the big picture, you can work together to find the best way to balance hormones naturally.