We all want (or should want) balanced hormones, because it usually means that our bodies are functioning optimally, our skin is clear, our metabolisms are working properly, we’re not overly stressed, and so on. The question is, then, how do we effectively regulate our hormones? Something I’ve seen over the years is people, especially women, taking medication and going a very unnatural route to ensure that their hormones are balanced. But using these methods for hormone regulation can actually have negative repercussions and possibly the opposite effect than desired. So I wanted to share some natural ways you can effectively regulate your hormones.
1. Choose Your Food Wisely
A lot of us have become a lot more food-cautious over the years, but one thing we might not always be conscious of is what kind of food our food consumes before it hits our plate. I, personally, eat a vegan, plant-based diet, but for those of you who eat meat, it’s really important to pay attention to how and where it’s sourced and what it’s being fed.
• Grass-fed vs. grain-fed beef
Generally speaking, grass-fed cows eat mostly grass, while grain-fed cows eat mostly an unnatural diet that usually includes corn and soy. Research has shown that eating grain-fed beef can affect your hormones by overstimulating your immune system and creating inflammation. If you’re female and you eat grain-fed, hormone-injected meat, the effects are, unfortunately, worse. It can slow down your digestion, make you bloated or constipated, raise your body’s estrogen levels, and mess with your microbiome. If you’re really struggling with your hormones, I recommend completely cutting meat and dairy, mainly because it usually causes hormone imbalance. But if you’re just trying to be cautious, make sure to buy grass-fed from now on.
• Clean vs. toxic fish
While fish is generally looked at as a “safe” and “clean” protein, certain kinds of fish can have a really negative impact on your hormones. This is, for the most part, because of mercury. Mercury is an endocrine disrupter to both estrogen and the thyroid. Research has shown that women who obtain mercury toxicity are twice as likely to test positive for thyroid antibodies (thyroid disease). For this reason, I recommend avoiding fish like tuna, shark, and swordfish. Safer sources of marine protein include wild-caught Alaskan salmon, cod, snapper, and trout.
2. Add in 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 boast a variety of benefits, but are mostly known to help fight inflammation by supporting our body’s adrenal and central nervous system. They’re also known to directly affect the body’s endocrine system, which is responsible for balancing our body’s hormones. If you’re looking for a way to naturally regulate your hormones, this is an absolutely amazing way to do so. Another great thing about adaptogens is a little goes a long way. They tend to have an earthy taste, so they pair well with things like banana smoothies and oatmeal. Always let your doctor or pharmacist know before starting adaptogens since they can be pretty potent (1-2 teaspoons of Ashwagandha a day has been used in Ayurvedic practices as a replacement for thyroid medication).
3. Stay Away from Processed Soy
Usually when we think of soy, we think of things like soy sauce and tofu, but the truth is that soy is hidden in a ton of processed, unhealthy products. Processed soy is, essentially, estrogen’s worst nightmare because of the fact that when ingested, it mimics estrogen (phytoestrogen), and therefore blocks normal estrogen from binding to receptors. This becomes a bit of a chain reaction and disrupts other hormones as well, by causing a decrease in testosterone, which can then inhibit thyroid function. It’s important to note that not all soy is created equal. Natural, fermented soy like tempeh, edamame, non-GMO miso, and natto are completely healthy. But almost every other soy is a processed no-no (soy milk, soy-based fake meat and cheese alternatives, and most tofu). You can naturally regulate your hormones just by avoiding these products with processed soy and instead, focus on eating whole, natural food.
4. Avoid Sugar
Sugar is a huge culprit for hormone imbalance. Unfortunately, those gooey, chocolatey desserts that we all know and love can really do some internal damage. This is because sugar ultimately causes a spike in our blood sugar levels, so when we eat too much dessert or too many refined carbs, an excess amount of insulin is produced. This causes the production of an enzyme called aromatase, which—you guessed it—is one of the main enzymes responsible for estrogen creation. Usually, when you cut your sugar intake, you’ll see and feel a difference in your body and skin (for the better, of course). So if you’re struggling with your hormones, try reducing your sugar intake for about a month and see if it helps.
5. Detox Your Personal Care Products
Using brands and products that are committed to including only clean and safe ingredients can make a huge difference. You may not realize it, but some brands that you use on a daily basis probably contain toxic ingredients, like parabens or phthalates. Our skin is porous, and the products that we use on a daily basis ultimately absorb into the body. That can, over time, impact your hormones, so using safer products can help reduce exposure to estrogenic chemicals. A couple brands I like are Juice Beauty, Naturopathica, Biossance, and Odacite.
6. Make the Swap from Plastic to Glass
Most plastic products, from food storage containers to cling wraps, can release chemicals that mimic estrogen. And unfortunately, studies have shown that you’re not safe just because the product claims to be BPA-free. Exposing yourself to plastic bottles, food containers, sippy cups, straws, etc. can release estrogen-like chemicals that can impact your hormones and cause an imbalance. The easiest way to protect yourself against this happening is to make the swap from plastic to glass—this way, your body doesn’t have to work extra hard to maintain balanced hormones.