Most of us are well-aware when our hormones are out of whack even if we don’t know the why behind it. The short moods, the blaring lights, the pumpkin that has become our tummy, that oily hair (never mind that we just washed it)—it’s no wonder we’re sleepless, cranky and anxious.
Add to that the fact that our delicate hormone balance—key to overall health—can get wobbly as we get pregnant, switch our birth control, face stressful life changes and age, rendering those symptoms all the more exacerbated.
But getting your hormones back on track doesn’t need to be another PMS headache. Here are 10 ways to balance your hormones, naturally:
1. Eat flax seeds
These little gems are often equated with glowing health for a reason: High in lignans, fiber and essential omega-3 fatty acids, flax seeds can support cardiac health and normal blood sugar levels. When it comes to hormones, they may help you rediscover equilibrium, with the National Institutes of Health reporting that women who consume flax seeds show an improved estradiol/progesterone ratio—one of the secrets to hormone balance.†
2. Watch what you drink
Caffeine, alcohol and sugary drinks—even, if not particularly, those bright bottles of juice boasting increased energy—can wreak havoc on your hormones by stimulating excess cortisol and impairing ovarian function (and the hormones they produce). Reach for plain, mineral or coconut water instead, and, when you need a boost, brew yourself a mug of green tea—its compounds can bolster energy.
3. Prioritize stress management
We have a tendency to let our health slip when we’re stressed, whether it means eating easily-accessible, processed foods or skimping on sleep. But those times of duress are particularly when you need to baby yourself—if not for meeting that deadline with a sound mind than for your hormone health. Why? Stress often generates a surplus of that aforementioned cortisol, which can ultimately result in adrenal fatigue—a condition, characterized by fatigue, weakened immunity, and a general lack of resilience, that can do further damage to your hormone balance. Take time to draw yourself a soothing bath, get out in nature, attend a yoga class, or just flop (and feel not an inch of remorse about it).
4. Stock up on supplements
Vitamin C, pantothenic Acid (also known as B5), phosphatidylserine, Siberian ginseng and rhodiola rosea—an herb that’s long been used to increase energy and physical endurance by supporting hormones and neurotransmitters released in response to stress—are supplements that can help naturally support hormone balance and those oh-so-critical adrenals.†
5. Check your labels
Eat meat or other animal products? Aim to eat them sparingly and, when you do, ensure they’re organic and hormone free. This will help limit your exposure to xenoestrogens—environmental toxins, found in pesticides (as well as some personal care products), that can mimic estrogen in your body and create hormonal havoc!
6. Get in on the maca craze
Dubbed a superfood, maca is a powerful herb that not only naturally supports relief from menopausal symptoms like night sweats and hot flashes but is also a safe, natural solution to support healthy libido.† It's available as a supplement but maca powder is also available to enjoy in shakes and smooothies.
7. Fill your plate with veggies
…and particularly cruciferous veggies. Other than the fact that broccoli and kale are jam-packed with nutrients, they can also increase your friendly estrogen metabolism because they’re high in indole-3-carbinol, a compound that may also assist in decreasing those “hormonal” symptoms.†
8. …and dodge sugar
We all know that sugar can do a number on our skin and waistline. But did you know that it can also majorly shake up your hormone balance? Whether it’s candy or cake, the sweet stuff can increase insulin—another hormone that, if not tightly regulated, may lead to the reduced production of other hormones needed for balance, and ovulation resulting in infertility. Craving something sweet? Snack on blueberries. With a lower glycemic index than, say, cantaloupe, they can satisfy your yen for dessert while also offering antioxidant support.
9. Try chaste tree berry
Classified as a phyto-progesterone on account of its potential to naturally support your body’s production of progesterone, chaste tree berry—which grows in the Mediterranean and is also known as vitex—encourages hormone balance and may result in reduced PMS symptoms.†
The benefits of exercise cannot be overstated. With its ability to promote circulation, release feel-good endorphins, keep your weight in check and bolster immunity and heart health, it’s one of the best “medicines”—for hormone happiness and general well-being—out there. It has an immense effect on cortisol and adrenaline, two hormones, frequently linked to stress, that can lead to hormonal imbalance and make whatever symptoms you’re experiencing all the more miserable.
Research released by the International Journal of Preventative Medicine also reveals that exercises like yoga can augment the production of GABA, a neurotransmitter that has a profound influence on depression and anxiety—two of the most common psychological complaints that accompany hormone distress. Plus, exercise can make you feel that much more competent in making essential lifestyle changes to achieve hormone health—and the countless benefits a balanced system can offer.
†These statements have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.