We all want to have balanced hormones since they indicate that our bodies are operating at their best, that our skin is clear, that our metabolism is strong, that we are not too stressed and so on. The question is, how do we manage our hormones effectively and stress less, especially after an intense 15 months for many. As a Hormone Nutritionist I’ve seen some simple swaps make some remarkable changes in my client’s health and would like to provide some natural methods for efficiently balancing your hormones and feeling your best everyday.
Avoid The Extra Sugar
Sugar is a major contributor to hormonal imbalance. Those gooey, chocolatey treats that we all know and adore can, unfortunately, cause serious internal damage. This is because sugar creates a jump in our blood sugar levels, so when we eat sugary foods or too many refined carbohydrates, we create too much insulin. This results in the creation of an enzyme known as aromatase, which—you guessed it—is one of the main enzymes responsible for estrogen creation. As your blood sugar spikes so does your cortisol levels, estrogens and oftentimes anxiety. When you cut back on sugar, you’ll notice and feel a difference in your body and skin (for the better, of course). So, if you’re having trouble with your hormones, try cutting back on sugar for a month and see if it helps.
Upgrade With Adaptogens
You may have heard of adaptogens since they’re becoming increasingly popular in mainstream western culture, but they’ve actually been used for thousands of years mainly in Ayurvedic medicine. Adaptogens have a wide range of benefits, but they’re best recognized for boosting our bodies’ adrenal and neurological systems, which helps combat inflammation, stress and fatigue. They’re also known to have a direct impact on the endocrine system to including thyroid, adrenal and ovarian health. Another great thing about adaptogens is that a little goes a long way. They tend to have an earthy taste, so they pair well with things like banana smoothies and oatmeal. My favourite adaptogens are ashwagandha, rhodiola and shatavari.
Detox Your Personal Care Products
It can make a big difference to use products and brands that are committed to using only clean and safe ingredients when it comes to your personal care products. Some of the products we use on a regular basis may include hazardous substances like parabens or phthalates, and fragrances which may be impacting your hormonal health and cognitive function. Because our skin is permeable, the items we use on a regular basis make their way into our body and impact us on a cellular level. Over time this can impact your periods, thyroid health and overall health so using safer products can help reduce exposure to estrogenic chemicals. A couple brands I like are Ilia, Briogeo, Pai Skincare, Sahajan Skincare and Odacite.
Move Your Body
Daily movement is key to happy hormones. Movement doesn’t have to be hard or intense but if you are up for that, amazing. Movement changes our energetic state, increases endorphins, and lymphatic flow and drainage which are all helpful for balancing and detoxification of hormones and relieving stress. Plus movement increases gut motility which improves digestion and elimination. Healthy regular bowel movements are key to healthy hormones and gut health.
Ditch The Plastics
Most plastic products, from food storage containers to cling wrap, have the potential to emit estrogen-like compounds into our foods and water. Unfortunately, studies have shown that just because a product claims to be BPA-free does not mean it is safe. Exposure to estrogen-like chemicals released by plastic bottles, food containers, sippy cups, straws, and other items can affect your hormones and cause some major imbalances. The easiest way to protect yourself against this happening is to make the swap from plastic to glass or stainless steel—this way, your body doesn’t have to work extra hard to maintain balanced hormones.
Make Sleep Sacred
Sleep is the master hormone and literally regulates everything from your hunger levels and cravings to cognitive function, libido and skin health. Your body uses sleep to detoxify, literally cleaning your brain and heal your muscles so if you don’t have a sleep routine and regular bedtime that gives you some serious deep sleep (7-9 hours a night) this is the perfect place to start on your hormone healing path. More sleep means better focus, energy and resilience. For more tips on sleep and 7 ways to optimize your nightly zzz’s, check out Sasha’s pre-bedtime routine.
And yes a huge part of having balanced hormones is what you fuel your body with, that goes without saying. Choose nutrient dense, fresh foods and make sure you are eating enough, please. As you can see there is a lot more to hormones and stress management than just your next meal. I hope this brought you some ideas you can weave into your day to day life so you can start feeling your best, you deserve nothing less.
Ashleigh Norris is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Hormone Expert based in Toronto, Ontario. She is the Founder of The Soulful Sprout and is obsessed with spreading awareness around hormone health, period positivity and helping women reclaim their hormonal superpowers. She works with individuals virtually and can be found on Instagram and her website.