There are dozens of different hormones being produced and used in our bodies every single day. Let’s address one of the major hormones that tend to cause the most complaints in women: estrogen.
It very well may be the most well-known and commonly talked-about hormone in the female body, and it's no wonder: estrogen imbalances cause a host of health problems in women. For estrogen dominance (an excess amount of estrogen), issues such as insomnia, weight gain/fluctuations, slow metabolism, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and other reproductive tract problems, and hair and skin problems are fairly common. If your body isn't producing enough estrogen, a low sex drive, unstable emotions, weight gain, depression and anxiety, and thinning hair are some frequently reported signs. This is a short list of symptoms, and hormone disruptions may cause others, so if you have any questions about your estrogen balance, talk with your doctor.
With that in mind, here are 5 helpful ways to keep your estrogen levels in line.
Do a gut check
Research suggests that the health of your gut plays a role in estrogen balance and other hormone regulation functions. Issues such as leaky gut syndrome and other digestive may indicate that there aren't enough beneficial bacteria lining your intestinal walls, which means probiotic intake may need to be increased. Ask your doctor or registered dietitian about choosing a quality probiotic and how to incorporate it into your everyday supplement routine. For a cost-effective way of increasing probiotics in your diet, try making fermented foods like kombucha, kefir, or sauerkraut at home.
Improve your diet
To support proper hormone function, increase your fruit and vegetable intake, and eliminate foods that are cooked in vegetable or canola oils. Instead, use oils that are rich in fatty acids and omega-3s, such as olive oil. Avoid highly-processed foods and sugary treats, too.
The household chemicals we're exposed to every day may play a role in endocrine production, which impact estrogen balance. For example, plastic food containers often contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals, such as BPA's, and many cleaners and beauty products contain synthetic substances that act like natural hormones in the body but aren't. So, you can improve the health of the environment at the same time you improve your own health by carefully selecting which plastics and chemical cleaners you allow in your home, and switching to more natural makeup and skincare brands.
High stress levels have been linked to hormone imbalances, including estrogen. Cortisol, the substance our body produces to deal with stress, requires progesterone (another female hormone, and the opposite to estrogen) to create. So more stress equals less progesterone in our bodies, which means estrogen is no longer kept 'in check' and is allowed to spike. Try reducing stress by making time for yourself, like a relaxing Epsom salt bath or reading a good book. Slow down and do some self-care, whatever that might look like.
The body repairs itself while you're asleep, and regulating hormones is part of the body's repair cycle. If you're not receiving adequate sleep, hormone imbalance may be one result. Try improving your sleep environment; a sound machine, light-blocking curtains, or a new pillow may do the trick. Try consuming a high-protein meal a couple hours before turning in for the night or taking an Epsom salt bath before bedtime.
Want to talk to a primary care doctor about hormone health? Find a Providence provider near you:
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This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.