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Hormonal Imbalance

Four simple steps to help get your hormones back into balance.

“My hormones are all over the place”… This is a common phrase heard from many women! Although hormonal imbalances can also occur in men, it is more likely to be observed by women prior to menstruation, while trying to fall pregnant, or when suffering from conditions such as PCOS and endometriosis.

So, why does it happen?

Hormones are chemical messengers within the body that make up the endocrine system. These messengers have a specific task that needs to be delivered to a target organ or tissue for the body to function harmoniously. It’s when that message gets blocked, distracted or stuck in traffic where things go wrong….

In other words, the secretion of hormones is regulated by three things:

  1. Chemical changes in the blood

  2. The presence of other hormones

  3. Signals from the nervous system

Number 3 holds a key link to why things go wrong… Stress.

More importantly, how you perceive stress. Although stress often gets a bad wrap, it is essential to us. It’s a survival skill. The only thing is that the hypothalamus in the brain doesn’t recognise if you’re stressed because you’re running away from a sabre-toothed tiger, or you’ve got a hundred emails to get through by the end of the day. It will still tell the anterior pituitary gland to secrete more Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). ACTH then goes and tells the adrenal glands to secrete more cortisol (the stress hormone) and adrenaline.

With a constant secretion of cortisol and adrenaline circulating throughout the blood, other hormones will be put on hold. This includes our sleep hormone (melatonin) reproductive hormones, thyroid hormones for metabolism… etc. The list is long.

Let's focus on a typical presenting complaint of PMS - premenstrual syndrome. Physical and emotional symptoms that occur up to two weeks prior to menstruation.

Although I’m using PMS as an example, keep in mind that the tips to get your hormones back in balance can be applied for many other hormones. There may be slight variation with the use of nutrients to specific hormones, but the main idea is this:

  1. Increase your tolerance to stress

  2. Reduce external exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), and exogenous hormones (eg. naturally occurring plant steroids found in food)

  3. Provide support for the specific endocrine gland and associated organs.

  4. Increase your body’s ability to detoxify and eliminate excess hormones from the body.

So here we are, number one:

Increase your tolerance to stress. There are many different potential stressors out there… it could be a financial burden, illness for yourself or a loved one, workload, kids etc. Anything. However, what causes your hypothalamus to raise the alarm and start secreting more cortisol will be different to how your partner, friend or mother responds. The difference is in the perception. The stressors will keep coming… but you can increase your tolerance to them so they don’t raise the alarm so often.

Ways to increase your tolerance to stress: Stress reduction techniques. Mindfulness, meditation, yoga, down-time, self care, SLEEP. Eliminate or avoid as much as possible triggers such as caffeine, alcohol and refined carbohydrates/sugar. There is also a certain class of herbs known as Adaptogens that help increase your tolerance to stress. Click here for an online appointment and a tailor-made prescription of adaptogenic herbs to boost this step and get your hormones in balance faster!

Number two:

EDCs - Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals. These are commonly found in canned food, printed ink, plastics, and the ‘fragrance’ used for your moisturiser, shower gel or cleaning products. If you are working in the retail industry… how many times do you touch ink from printed receipts each day? Drinking water out of a plastic bottle, or microwaving last night’s dinner in a plastic container? These are all contributing to a disruption of the endocrine system and throwing your hormones out of balance! You may not dealing with these today, but perhaps your mother did while she was pregnant with you… unfortunately they cross the placenta and may have been disrupting your endocrine system since birth!

Exogenous hormones - Most commonly known is the phytoestrogens. These are plant steroids that can mimic the body’s own response to oestrogen. Grapefruit, yams and soy hold the highest amounts, but it’s soy that often gets overlooked… It’s not just your soy milk or tofu every now and then, it's the soy protein, soy isolates and lecithin that you need to keep an eye out for. These are in almost every commercially made food product out there! Check the ingredients next time your roaming through the centre aisle of your local supermarket. Even the “healthy” protein bars you may be snacking on to try and loose some weight is likely to contain soy isolate. Therefore potentially contributing to the reason you’re struggling to shift abdominal weight in the first place!

Number three:

Provide support for the specific endocrine gland and associated organs.

Nutrients such as:

Vitamin C (Citrus fruits, berries, green veg) Essential for the adrenal glands.

Vitamins B2, B5, B6, B9, B12 (grains, meats, most fruit and veg)

Magnesium (dark leafy veg, cashews)

Tyrosine (dairy, almonds, and most meats) Zinc (oysters, pumpkin seeds, seafood, meat) These play an important role in calming down the stress response.

Indol-3-carbinol (brassica vegetables) Choline (eggs and sunflower) Needed to conjugate (break apart) oestrogen ready for elimination by the liver

N-acetyl-l-cysteine (NAC) (supplement form)

Can decrease testosterone and free androgens in women suffering from PCOS….

Choosing the right nutrients for the specific endocrine gland and associated organs to support homeostasis (balance) within the body is important in regulating hormones.

Click here for an online appointment to determine what nutrients you may be lacking and are in need of a boost.

And lastly, number four:

Eliminate excess hormones. Making sure your elimination channels are functioning properly is crucial. Encourage a regular daily bowel habit with fibre-rich foods, drink plenty of water (or herbal teas) and keep active. There’s no point going through the hard yards if you’re still banking up the waste products inside ;)

Check out this hormone-balancing recipe and follow me on Instagram & Facebook for more simple, delicious and nutritious meal ideas to help get your hormones back in balance!

Any questions, shout out… I’m always here to help.

Kim x

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