Helpless in the wake of hormones
One week I’m feeling amazing, crushing it on the climbs and in total flow on the descents. The next week I feel lousy, like someone filled my shoes with cement and tied a parachute to my bike.
Fatigue, mental fog, lack of motivation, depression, and decreased sexual appetite are just a few of the symptoms that might indicate your hormones are out of whack. But before you collapse into that carton of ice cream, here are some tips on gettin’ back into balance!
Hormone-Balancing Foods, Vitamins & Minerals
It’s tempting to reach for over-the-counter medications to balance your hormones, but that path is not only unnatural, it’s been linked to a plethora of other side-effects such as cancer.
As you’ll find in many of my other Zesty Life posts, I have a food first practice. This is because cleaning up of your diet and consuming nutrient-dense, plant-based foods has been shown time after time to have the ability to heal many issues in the body and mind. Below are a few foods, nutrients and minerals in particular that stand out for encouraging hormone balance:
Turmeric contains curcumin, which supports testosterone production in men, improves estrogen metabolism, and supports the liver so it can efficiently clear out toxins such as excess androgens, estrogens and environmental toxins from the body. Additionally, curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory that helps reduce joint and muscle pain. *Try my Superfood Smoothie
Broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collard greens and brussels sprouts are not only healthy sources of antioxidants and fibre, they’re also potent hormone detoxifiers and contain many nutrients that promote a healthy metabolism of hormones. *Try my Broccstar Soup
Our gut health is essential in hormone balancing and the metabolizing of estrogen. The good bacteria in fermented foods such as Miso Paste, Sauerkraut and Apple Cider Vinegar are fantastic for gut-health and work to ensure hormone harmony. *Try my Flavour Train Soft Tacos or Miso Hungry Bowl
A high fibre diet including fruits, vegetables and legumes such as broccoli, avocado, kale, berries, cherries, chia seeds, ground flax seeds, wild rice, kidney beans and lentils improve digestion and are significantly associated with hormonal balance; eliminating estrogen in the intestines.*Try my Chia Breakfast Bowl
Liquid Vitamin D3
The sunshine Vitamin! Vitamin D acts like a hormone in our bodies and deficiency is linked to weight gain, fatigue, asthma and estrogen dominance. Food sources are minimal so in the winter months it’s best to add a Liquid Vitamin D3 to your regimen.
Magnesium is one of the most important minerals to help support your hormones. Magnesium affects your pituitary health, is necessary for the production, function, and transport of insulin, supports your feel-good hormone serotonin and adrenal glands, regulates cortisol, supports estrogen detoxification and more. Needless to say, this is critical for your hormone-balancing plan.
Foods to Avoid
Sugar, Refined Breads & Pasta
Sugar is a hormone grenade. When we munch on that sugary dessert, big slice of bread, doughy muffin, bowl of pasta or other refined carb, our blood sugar spikes. This is because they don’t have the nutrients or fibre content to slow digestion; therefore our blood sugar regulating hormone insulin, goes into overdrive. Soon after, our blood sugar crashes dramatically, dipping below a healthy baseline.
Refined sugar is also found to stress your adrenal glands (which regulate cortisol, the stress hormone, and aldosterone, which controls your blood pressure) and your thyroid (which secretes hormones responsible for maintaining your metabolism, cognitive function and body temperature.)
Dairy, Eggs & Meat
Dairy is breastmilk from a cow—carrying with it a complex cocktail of natural hormones for baby calf growth. In fact, natural estrogens are up to 100,000 times more potent than the added synthetics. Consuming a product so rich in hormones is bound to mess with your endocrine system, and even exposure to small levels has side affects. In particular, milk contains an abundance of IGF-1, which is a growth hormone that makes calves grow fast—which can also make your cancer grow fast!
Whether you’re eating factory-farmed beef or happy grass-fed Bessie from your neighbours pasture, all meat contains hormones naturally produced by the animal in far greater amounts than any residue from added hormones. My advice, steer clear!
Alcohol, especially Beer
If you have low testosterone levels, you’re not doing yourself any favours by drinking alcohol. Alcohol actually increases the conversion of testosterone into estrogen.
Exercise, meditation and spending time in nature will not only make you feel happier, they help keep cortisol and adrenaline hormones in check.
Giving your nervous system a chance to recover will help stabilize cortisol levels, regulate your reproductive system and restore your sleep/wake cycle. Practices such as Pilates, Meditation, Forest Bathing or Yoga can calm your nervous system and help harmonize your hormones.
Get more cardio
Not only is exercise one of the most effective natural remedies for stress relief, it also increases the happy hormone dopamine in the brain, which decreases stress and even depression. Exercise also increases seratonin which promotes a good nights sleep.