When faced with unexplained weight gain, extreme fatigue, increased anxiety and other unpleasant conditions, we’re often told that it’s due to hormone imbalance. While we may be cognisant of the different types of hormones we possess as women, it’s important to know their intricate functions and how to best support them. In this blog, we’ll dive into female hormone basics and what you need to know to naturally balance your hormones during the various stages of womanhood.
Generally, hormones carry out chemical message transmission throughout the body. This helps the body function correctly and regulates a person’s growth, mood, metabolism, sexual function, and reproduction.
As females, the three main hormones of concern are estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. These basic female hormones are responsible for regulating processes such as menstruation, reproduction, and menopause.
Estrogen plays a crucial role in the development and maintenance of female reproductive tissues and secondary sexual characteristics, such as breast development, and the distribution of body fat. Estrogen also plays a key role in the menstrual cycle, helping to thicken the uterine lining in preparation for pregnancy.
Progesterone works cooperatively with estrogen to prepare the uterus for pregnancy and supports the development of the placenta. It also helps to maintain the thickened uterine lining during pregnancy. The menstrual cycle is regulated by this hormone.
Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) is produced by the pituitary gland and is responsible for stimulating the growth and development of ovarian follicles, which contain a woman’s eggs.
Luteinizing hormone (LH) is also produced by the pituitary gland and is responsible for triggering the release of the mature egg from the follicle.
Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) is produced by the hypothalamus and regulates the release of FSH and LH from the pituitary gland.
These hormones work together in a coordinated manner to regulate the menstrual cycle, ovulation, and pregnancy. Any disruption in this delicate balance can lead to menstrual irregularities, infertility, and other health issues.
Hormonal imbalances are inflammatory in nature. Understanding that a balanced inflammatory response plays a huge role in maintaining a balanced healthy body is key. Inflammation is an essential natural bodily response, although when inflammation doesn’t subside appropriately it can wreak havoc.
Inflammation tends to affect the endocrine system (ovaries, thyroid, & adrenals), causing unwanted symptoms such as irregular periods, spotting, low sex drive, acne prone skin, brittle nails, weight gain, migraines, mood swings, and more.
Inflammation can be triggered by entering a new stage of womanhood or poor lifestyle choices. When going on or off hormonal birth control, starting perimenopause or entering into any other significant stage of womanhood, it is recommended to consult your doctor or health practitioner and complete a blood test to effectively measure noticeable imbalances of key female hormones.
Fear not, though, because studies show that by changing one’s lifestyle and eating habits, one can significantly reduce inflammation. In turn, this will help improve hormone receptor activity (the brain-hormone connection) while gaining balance back.
How to Naturally Balance Your Hormones
The best way to naturally balance your hormones is to evaluate all aspects of one’s lifestyle. Of course, the first factor that we consider is how the foods we eat affect our hormones (and don’t worry we’ll get to that shortly). However, it's equally important to consider the primary foods in your life (social life, work environment, stress levels, etc.) and how you can adjust your lifestyle to put less pressure on your endocrine system. Getting adequate sleep and exercising regularly, for example, are two major factors that are often overlooked.
Moreover, if you are experiencing a shift in stages of womanhood such as going off hormonal birth control or entering perimenopause, it's crucial to be patient with this process and give your systems the time it needs to adjust itself.
We learned that inflammation and the endocrine system are intricately related. Inflammation can be regulated by the foods we eat. Below, I’ve detailed which foods best support the female hormonal system to reclaim balance, sleep, sex drive and overall feel more energized.
Eat a palm sized protein serving three times a day. Women are prone to lose muscle mass with age, starting as early as in your 30’s. Adequate protein can help prevent muscle mass loss and help promote muscle gain when paired with strength exercises.
Make healthy fats a part of every meal. Healthy fats enable a much better absorption of vitamins & minerals, are important for optimum hormone production, cell membrane structure and, supports the skin & other tissues stay supple.
Stay hydrated, drink water. Keep in mind that you can also eat your water throughout your day by incorporating foods such as cucumber, apples, tomatoes, spinach, and oranges.
Focus on supplementation with key vitamins & minerals. When considering which supplements best support happy hormones, opt for those that contain Vitamin B, C, D3, as well as Zinc and Magnesium.
Opt for whole grains. Whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat bread are rich in fiber and other nutrients that can help regulate blood sugar levels and reduce insulin resistance, which is important for hormonal balance.
The Happy Hormones Shopping Guide
(Part of the Forever Well Program - Hormonal Support Package)
When you change from one stage of womanhood to another or experience enduring unpleasant conditions, it’s imperative that you seek out a proper blood test administered by your doctor or health practitioner to give you an exact measure of your hormone levels. With a clear indication of where you are on the charts and which hormones are out-of-whack, it’s possible to re-balance them by making changes to your eating habits and lifestyle. Curious to dive deeper? Check out our Health Coaching page to discover a tailored approach to wellness, equipping you with the toolkit needed to achieve optimal wellbeing.