For healthy individuals, proper hormone balancing is something that can often get pushed to the side. Picture the average human that is in shape. You go to the gym, you eat “clean”, and you try to get enough sleep and manage stress. Things fall through the cracks. Maybe your job picks up and work becomes more time consuming than before. Your sleep suffers, and as a result your diet may start to degrade. But your not gaining weight and your keeping up with everything. Sound familiar?
This is a situation many of us find ourselves in often. It is nearly impossible to keep a perfect balance between rest, work, and self-care. The symptoms of an imbalance often lurk under the surface and don’t outwardly show for some time. What I am talking about is an imbalance in our endocrine system, the master controller of our hormones. Luckily there are simple practices we can employ to provide a healthy baseline to our endocrine system. These practices may not target specific problems, but they work as a shotgun approach to ensure the environment is right for proper hormone management. Let’s dig in.
Get Enough Sleep
I’ve harped on sleep before. By now you are probably sick of everyone telling you you should just sleep more. I’ll amend that by saying yes, you should sleep more, but you should also focus on the quality of your sleep. When we get poor sleep the normal rhythms of hormones like testosterone, thyroid hormones, and growth hormone go all out of wack. Functioning under a sleep loss derails the function of the pituitary gland, the main driver of hormone release in the endocrine system.
By making simple changes to our sleep routine we can dramatically improve the quality of our sleep. We can sum up these routines under the term sleep hygiene.
If you are going to watch TV or be around regular lights at night, get yourself some blue light blocking glasses. These can be found for cheap on Amazon . This study actually tested blue light blocking glasses on patients with delayed-onset sleep disorder. The glasses improved sleep onset by 132 minutes. Other studies show this may be because of an improved release of melatonin according to our circadian rhythm when blue light is mitigated.
I aim to follow seasonal patterns of light when figuring our how much sleep to get. In the summer when there is more light, you can get by with 7-8 hours. In the winter I try for 8 or 9.
Try to limit light exposure after dark to really let the natural hormone release occur. Don’t fiddle around on your phone before bed, read a book.
Eat A Hormone Friendly Diet
Vague title aside, this is a real thing. In this age of fad and extreme dieting, we can quickly become entrenched in a routine that quickly drains our body of energy, vitamins and mineral, and disrupts our hormones. In particular it is vital to get enough fat into our diet. This includes all classes of fat like saturated, mono-unsaturated, omegas 3 and 6, and polyunsaturated fats.
The cholesterol that we produce from fats are vital for hormone production. In particular the steriod hormones like testosterone,
progesterone, pregnenolone, androsterone, estrone, estradiol, corticosterone, aldosterone could not be manufactured if it were not for the presence of testosterone.
In a study on the effects of low-fat and high-fat dairy on infertile women, high-fat dairy was actually shown to cure many women of infertility.
Make sure you are eating enough. If you are following a protocol of intermittent fasting and reducing calories drastically, you are sending a signal to the endocrine system that we are in famine mode. Hormones like leptin, testosterone, and thyroid hormones are then thrown out of balance. This could possibly result in hypothyroidism, adrenal fatigue, and low sex drive. Eat enough, not too much, not too little.
Focus on getting good fats like extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, grass fed butter, wild caught fish, full fat grass fed dairy, and pastured eggs and meat.
Take An Honest Look At Your Stress Levels
I talk about stress a lot. In modern life we are stressed out 99 percent of the time without even realizing it. This is due to our near constant exposure to other peoples lives through social media, being bathed in artificial light, EMF radiation from our phones and wi-fi, and a host of other variables. This constant stress puts us in a near constant state of sympathetic nervous system activation, or “fight or flight” mode. When we are in this state levels of insulin and blood glucose are raised, creating a cycle of inflammation and fat storage. Our organs blood flow capacity is reduced, digestion slows, and stress hormone cortisol surges, and sex hormone production is decreased. Stressed out?
Just know that too much chronic stress severely handicaps your bodys ability to make hormones that help contribute towards health. Get out in nature. Limit phone time. Work in some mindfulness in the day. Clean up your diet to stop the constant blood sugar roller coaster that refined grains and carbohydrates send us on. Your hormones will thank you.
Thats it everyone. Have any other suggestions for simple practices that help balance our hormones? Comment below!
Elliot Steele is a Primal Health Coach based in Chelan WA. He strives to empower those looking to regain their health after a lifetime of misinformed practices. This is the essence of Steele Back Your Health, to truly learn how to be healthy with sustainable habits. Check out the coaching and blog page for more info!