You can start by being mindful of when, where, and how you eat. All of these factors affect both your hormonal balance and the way your body stores fat and builds muscle. A diet that limits carbohydrates and emphasizes quality proteins and fats provides the building blocks for all your hormones, including major hormones like cortisol and insulin, as well as minor, but important, hormones like estrogen, progesterone and testosterone.
Here is the protocol that I am taking (and this is evolving as I see/feel fit for ME:
1) Cleanse thy LIVER! – The liver is responsible for eliminating excess hormones (e.g. in the case of estrogen dominance). In addition, estrogen-mimicking chemicals found in many products and in the environment would also be eliminated by the liver. Therefore, supporting the liver is (in my opinion) THE most important and essential part of treating hormonal imbalance. If the liver is congested, fatty or overtaxed, ALL the good things you are doing won’t be very effective until that liver is cleansed and balanced. I am taking these supplements: Life Extension, Liver Efficiency Formula and Life Extension, Silymarin (Milk Thistle).
2) Get the sleep you need. Limited sleep is linked to hormonal changes that increase hunger and appetite, triggering weight gain. One particular hormone, called leptin, is particularly sensitive to variations in sleep cycle. Leptin controls your appetite and metabolic rate. Insufficient sleep will result in lower leptin levels leading to slower metabolism and weight gain.(source) So there is a vicious, depleting cycle, which leaves you heavier, moodier and less energetic.
My sleep cycle had been “wonkers” and I had not been getting good deep REM sleep. I have no problem getting to sleep, but I would wake up around 2 a.m. and not be able to sleep for several hours till around 4,5 or 6. I was going to bed around midnight (after watching tv , being on the computer or reading for awhile). Working up until the very last minute before bed is not conducive to a “good nights sleep”. My sleep has improved since implementing Ayurveda and some of the suggestions below along with having a nightly routine, especially one that involves relaxing activities. I now go to bed by 10:30 p.m. and do some light yoga stretching, deep breathing/meditation beforehand. A HOT aromatherapy bath works WONDERS too!
3) Shoulder stands/ Inversions - Inversions stimulate the pituitary gland, the master gland. The pituitary gland is “in charge” of the body’s overall hormonal functioning. Stimulating this gland promotes hormonal balance and healthy hormonal functioning. Inversions increase the flow of oxygen, internal fluids and blood thus cleansing the body’s many systems. Headstands, shoulderstands, Legs Up the Wall, bridge pose, forward bends and similar asanas can be intimidating for many students, but they are vital to overall health.
The benefits are worth overcoming fear. They also increase mental power, concentration and stimulate the chakras. Check out this article for more information and how to do shoulder stand pose correctly.
4) Add fat into your diet - This was the BIGGIE for me!
Fat was long considered the enemy of dieters, but the simple truth of the matter is–fat does not make you fat. Your body needs fat to fuel the body’s hormonal systems, including the production of sex hormones like testosterone. Normal testosterone levels are necessary for a healthy sex drive, strong energy levels, and the retention of lean muscle mass. Dieters sticking to a low-fat regime sometimes skirt the minimal acceptable levels of fat intake, playing Russian roulette with their hormone levels.
Eat fats in their raw and unprocessed state and be sure to get enough omega 3 fatty acids daily, in the form of chia seed, flax seed, hemp seed, pumpkin seed and blue green algae. I am currently taking some flax oil supplements to get more essential fatty acids – Udo’s Oil would be great too (I am out and need to order more this week!)
* So, my friends, if you are on any type of low-fat diet, please be careful and watch for any symptoms or reactions in your body and mind. I know I felt great in the beginning on mostly fruit and leafy greens with little fat, but obviously, that caught up with me. Once the imbalance occurs, it can take several months for it to manifest and show itself with symptoms. Little to no-fat diets are not sustainable for long term and the body NEEDS fat to perform MANY functions, tasks and to be healthy. We are like automobiles, if we don’t add oil to the system when it gets low (or very little) it will “throw a rod” or worse. Let’s aim to take care and maintain these beautiful vehicles that we reside in - for they are the only ones we have in this lifetime.
5) Herbs and herbal tonics - Turmeric, ashwaganda, Maca (see #7 below) and ginseng (also good liver cleansers) are some herbs which helps balance both female and male hormones. Red raspberry, dong quai, wild yam, black cohosh, red clover are some other herbs that are phytoestrogens in the form of plants that assist the bodies hormones back into balance. So, I have been upping my intake of hot herbal tonic drinks that balance the hormones and cleanse the liver. Check out my recipes here.
6) Foods/Diet - Examples of foods which contain phytoestrogens are tofu, tempeh, soybeans (I personally don’t eat these in my diet) and sprouts, wheat-berries, fenugreek, lentils, yams, rice, all sprouted seeds, alfalfa, linseed, oil seeds like sesame, sunflower etc., uncooked olive oil, wheat germ, rice bran, corn, barley, oats, parsley, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, parsnip, celery, green peas, green beans, cucumber, apples, anise, carrots, pomegranates, etc. (source)
The Ayurveda dietary changes have helped me immensely. My body is getting the proper foods that seem to be healing my body and mind.
* MACA: Peru’s maca root is the best organic adaptogen nutrient in the world to stabilize hormone imbalance in women. Maca is a powerful adaptogen and also enhances natural production of progesterone testosterone and estrogen hormones in women. It is important to know that herbal maca does not “replaces” human hormone with plant-hormones or plant estrogens like black cohosh and other phyto estrogen herbs, but its action in the body nourishes and jogs the pituitary gland into producing your own bio identical human hormone and ends up raising not only estrogen, but also progesterone and testosterone hormones naturally. Maca is also a natural adaptogen, which means it has the ability to balance and stabilize the body’s hormonal system. Adaptogens also boost immunity and harmonize the body’s overall vitality.
(So, needless to say, I am taking MACA daily to see how the results come about.)
I reduce stress through exercise (mine has been yoga, walking outside in nature and Rebounding), deep breathing, self-nurturing practices such as yoga stretching/breathing and affirming GRATITUDE first thing in the mornings, hot aromatherapy baths at night, BREATHING throughout the day, getting away from stimulating activities at night (computer, tv, etc.) and chilling before bedtime.
8) Deep Breathing – Deep breathing stimulates vital hormone secretions throughout the endocrine system by exciting the pneumogastric nerve and providing direct massage to glands in the abdomen and sacrum, thereby balancing all vital functions, including sexual potency and fertility. Deep breathing permits deep, uninterrupted sleep and reduces time required for a complete rest. It also improves digestion, metabolism, excretion and and aids the liver. (from the book – The Tao of Health, Sex and Longevity)
Take a slow deep breath in for a count of 4 seconds. Hold the breath in for 4 seconds. Release the breath for a count of 4 seconds. Slow and controlled. Do for as long as you can. Just focus on your breathing.
I know this was LONG, but there are so many factors to take into account on this topic. This is my experience and the choices I decided to make for my journey. I hope you found some of this information helpful and you can create balance and peace in your life with healthier hormone levels. This whole approach is fabulous not only for our hormones but our OVERALL HEALTH.
** Come back tomorrow because I will share with you an herbal tonic that I have been making for my hormones. **
** Have you balanced your hormones in a natural way – would love to hear about it! **May the GREENS be with You! and Be Inspired! Kibby