Hormonal control is the cornerstone of health. Your hormones determine everything from anxiety to your zest for life. If fat loss is your goal, hormonal control must be. It is not about eating less and moving more, it is about being in balance. And men, this applies to you too. As your testosterone declines with age, it is not a coincidence that your beer belly increases. Keep reading.
Are you out of balance?
Low energy, fatigue, cravings, unexplained weight gain, anxiety, low-sex drive… these are just some of the symptoms of hormonal imbalance.
I strongly suggest working with a Naturopath or Nutritionist and have your hormones tested. No one can tell you you’re estrogen dominant just by looking at you. You may be expressing a number of symptoms, but what if it’s high cortisol? Excess androgens? Low thyroid? Or a combination of the above? I think you get my point. A test will determine the exact cause and the appropriate treatment protocol as a result. Commonly, blood, saliva or urine tests are used. In my opinion, a single-day salivary test is most convenient as it can be taken in the comfort of your own home. Tests are taken between 6-8am and at 12pm, 6pm and 10pm, to examine your daily hormonal cycle. In younger women, blood and urine tests are usually conducted between specific days of the menstrual cycle. Your Naturopath or Nutritionist will help you with this.
How can I treat my hormones naturally?
Nutrition and lifestyle play huge roles in hormonal control. Here’s what you can do:
1. Quit gluten.
In summary, gluten intolerance is common in cases of estrogen intolerance and amenorrhea. It can also be attributed to low thyroid (hypothyroidism), even in the absence of Hashimoto’s Disease. For more information, purchase your copy of The Real Food Athlete here.
2. Say no to refined sugar.
Health starts in the gut. In short, sugar causes an estrogen overload and can lead to an overabundance of “wrong” bacteria in the gut. In addition, sugar makes us fat, which affects everything from gut health to craving control.
3. Add protein to your plate.
Protein is our satiety macronutrient that balances blood sugars and therefore helps to control our weight. Aim to eat a variety of good-quality protein by choosing free-range eggs, grass-fed hormone-free beef, organic hormone-free chicken and fresh salmon. Vegetarian and vegans should supplement with a pea protein powder in my opinion, to add variety and minimise the starches that come with legumes, lentils, and other similar plant-based protein sources.
4. Include good fats.
Fat is essential for hormonal production, which is just one of many reasons why there is no requirement for low-fat products or diets. The right type of fat, however, is extremely important:
– Always cook with saturated fat, such as coconut oil, butter and animal fat, as they are highly heat stable and maintain their structure under high temperatures. They are also a fantastic source of slow release energy and along with protein, contribute to satiety and blood sugar and insulin control.
– Add avocado, salmon and almonds for essential omega 3’s.
– Avoid polyunsaturated seed oils, high doses of omega 6 and trans fats – theses are highly inflammatory and can lead to hormonal imbalances and chronic health conditions.
5. Support your digestion with probiotics and fibrous vegetables.
Remember, health starts in the gut. Good digestion and regular elimination assists in the efficient removal of estrogen, which is important to create balance in the body. High estrogen levels are linked to postmenstrual symptoms, such as mood swings and bloating, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and even cancer. Include probiotic foods like sauerkraut, kimchi and kefir, and add cruciferous vegetables at least once a day. Vegetables such as kale, broccoli, cabbage and collard greens are high in natural fibre and contain many essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
6. Minimize dairy.
Unfortunately, pasteurized dairy is highly processed and often watered down so that it is almost devoid of nutrients. Significantly, even organic dairy products, whilst more nutritious, still contain estrogen. The milk sugar, lactose, also creates high insulin levels (an insulin spike), which is the enemy for both weight management and hormonal control. Chronically elevated insulin levels can lead to obesity, diabetes and even metabolic syndrome, which are all significant risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
7. Get plenty of vitamin C.
Vitamin C is essential for progesterone production, which helps to balance estrogen in the body. Aim to consume vitamin C-rich foods such as leafy greens, citrus fruits and strawberries. Supplementation is only necessary in the place of dietary inadequacy, as the closer to the source, the better.
8. Minimize processed soy products.
Soy contains high levels of phytoestrogens and usually, sugar. This may create an estrogenic (high estrogen) environment and insulin spike with consumption. Avoid meal replacements and energy bars with “soy protein isolate” or “texturized vegetable protein”. If you eat vegetarian, and choose to eat soy, the majority of your soy intake should come from traditional or fermented soy foods such as tempeh or miso. Consuming these foods can also assist in adding variety to your protein sources.
In response to stress, our body produces high levels of our stress hormones, cortisol, adrenaline and norepinephrine. High cortisol in particular, can suppress the immune system, increase blood pressure, increase blood sugar levels, decrease libido and contribute to obesity. In short, elevated stress hormones are the enemy for hormonal control and therefore, weight loss. Walk, breathe, meditate and find a yoga class you love. And don’t forget good quality sleep. Lifestyle factors are more important than you may think.
I don’t like to give individual supplement advice without a thorough initial consultation, but you may need to consider a practitioner-only omega-3, vitamin D, maca powder and/or additional herbs depending on your individual case. If you would like my help, your initial consultation can be booked here. This is available one-on-one, via Skype or over the phone. Please don’t start stocking up on expensive supplements without professional advice. Focus on steps 1-9 first.