A Hormone Imbalance is a man-made thing of the 20th Century. The world we live in today is so industrial and pollutes our environment, and food contributing to the exposure to high levels of Synthetic Estrogen which is the main cause of Hormone Imbalance. This doesn’t just affect women either, as today most men can experience these symptoms at an early age of 40 years old.
Chemicals we are constantly exposed to cause high levels of hormones in the body which cause a malfunction of the Endocrine System of the Body and create a Hormone Imbalance situation. In order to understand how Hormone Imbalance begins, it is useful to look at the natural aging process of the human body.
What Is A Hormone Imbalance?
Hormonal imbalances in men and women mean either a deficit or an excess in levels of hormones in the body. Types of hormonal imbalances include progesterone deficiency, oestrogen dominance, testosterone deficiency, excessive oestrogen and thyroxine deficiency or hypothyroidism. DHEA, cortisol, aldosterone and melatonin are other hormone secreted by glands that can overproduce or underproduce hormones leading to hormone imbalance symptoms. Hormones, such as estrogen and insulin, are chemical messengers that affect many aspects of your health.
Organs and glands like your thyroid, adrenals, pituitary, ovaries, testicles and pancreas regulate most of your hormone production, and if your hormones become even slightly imbalanced it can cause major health issues.
Symptoms in Women
Some of the most common side effects of hormone imbalance in women include:
- Weight Gain
- Hair Loss & Thinning Hair
- Low Libido
- Hot Flashes
- Night Sweats
- High Blood Pressure
- Excessive Facial Hair
Chronic insomnia is one of the most debilitating symptoms of a hormone imbalance, and is one of the symptoms that is typically overlooked. High levels of the stress hormone cortisol can contribute significantly. Cortisol is released by the adrenal glands during the “fight or flight” response, and is a powerful chemical.
High levels of cortisol interfere with restorative REM sleep and interrupt sleep rhythms. This is why so many women in perimenopause find that they are able to fall asleep, but they cannot stay asleep.
High cortisol levels can also cause racing, panicky thoughts, heart palpitations, and even panic attacks. Many women who suffer from exhaustion and burnout, yet have high levels of cortisol in their body, will not be able to sleep, and often describe a feeling of “tired but wired.”
Symptoms in Men
In men, the symptoms of aging are often the result of a growth hormone and testosterone decline. Once men hit 20 years old, the growth hormone drops about 14% for every 10 years. By the age of 40, men lose almost half the growth hormones they had at the age of 20, and by the time they reach 80, men are left with just 5% of their original growth hormones. However, these imbalances can happen at any age, but fortunately there are male treatment options available.
Some of the most common hormonal imbalances in men include:
- Andropause: Known as the male menopause, and occurs as men grow older and testosterone levels decline.
- Adrenal Fatigue: If stress levels remain high for a prolonged period of time, the adrenal glands can’t produce enough of the stress hormone cortisol.
- Hypothyroidism: When the thyroid gland is underactive, it doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones.
- Hyperthyroidism: An overactive thyroid gland results in high levels of thyroid hormones and an increased metabolism.
Many of the symptoms of male hormonal imbalances come on very gradually. You may not notice them at first, but as more symptoms appear and become worse over time, they do become apparent. These symptoms of male hormone imbalance are some of the most common:
- Erectile Dysfunction
- Low Libido
- Muscle Loss or Weakness
- Depression or Anxiety
- Gynecomastia (development of breasts)
- Mood Swings or Irritability
- Hair Loss
- Memory Loss
- Sleep Apnea or Insomnia
- Night Sweats or Hot Flashes
- Increased Body Fat
- Heart Palpitations
- Constipation or Increased Bowel Movements
People often mistake the symptoms of imbalanced hormones in men with signs of aging. The good news is that these hormone losses and imbalances are easily correctable, and can be balanced naturally. Through proper treatment, these symptoms will often disappear, but the bad news is that most people turn to synthetic treatments (hormone replacement therapy), that can make people dependent on prescription drugs for the rest of their lives. These treatments can also cause serious side effects by increasing the risk of stroke, osteoporosis and cancer, and simply mask the symptoms while the disease develops in other areas of the body.
How to Balance Hormones Naturally
If you don’t want negative side effects but want to naturally balance your hormones, here are the top ways to heal your body.
Consume Foods Rich In Fatty Acids
Eating a variety of foods high in short, medium and long-chain fatty acids is excellent for keeping hormones in check. Not only are these essential fats fundamental building blocks for hormone production, but they boost your metabolism and promote weight loss. Foods packed with healthy fats include coconut oil, avocados, grass-fed butter, walnuts, flax, chia and hemp seeds, non-gmo tofu, sardines and wild-caught salmon.
Balance Omega-3/6 Ratio
Since the early 20th century, the use of vegetable oil in our diets has skyrocketed, and these items are full of Omega -6s. Because people didn’t boost their omega-3 foods intake to balance out this elevated omega-6s consumption, there has been an onslaught of chronic diseases and inflammatory processes that have literally taken over our society.
Research from Pennsylvania State University shows that switching from the 1:1 omega-3/6 ratio our “hunter-gather” ancestors followed, to the recent day 20:1 ratio most people today get is the primary dietary factor of most diseases in America. Avoid this pitfall by steering clear from oils high in omega-6s like safflower, sunflower, corn, cottonseed, canola, soybean and peanut, and load up on rich sources of natural omega-3s from wild fish, flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts and grass-fed animal products.
That said, there is a type of omega-6 fat you want to try and get in your diet called GLA or gamma-linoleic acid, that can be taken in supplement form by using certain oils like evening primrose oil or borage oil, and also in hemp seeds mentioned above. Studies show supplementing with GLA can support healthy progesterone levels.
Heal Leaky Gut
Leaky gut is a condition that doesn’t just affect the digestive tract, but also causes hormone issues and can target the thyroid. When undigested food particles like gluten leak through your gut lining into the bloodstream, it causes disease-causing inflammation of the entire body and more specific organs like the thyroid.
New research shows that your gut health plays a significant role in hormone regulation so if you have leaky gut syndrome or a lack of good bacteria (probiotics) lining your intestinal wall can cause a hormone imbalance. Most people with leaky gut have an a deficiency of probiotics in their guts that actually help your body make vitamins that affect hormone levels like insulin. The top foods that support healing leaky gut include items like bone broth, kefir, miso, tempeh, fermented vegetables, and foods rich in fiber like vegetables and sprouted seeds. Supplements like digestive enzymes can also aid in repairing your gut lining, which will then help balance your hormones. Some of the main things that damage your digestive health include processed foods, gluten, hydrogenated oils and emotional stress.
Get More Sleep
Unless you are getting seven to eight hours of sleep every night, you’re doing your body no favors. Lack of sleep and sleeping at the wrong time is actually one of the worst habits people have that disturb hormone balance. This is because hormones work on a schedule, and cortisol, the stress hormone, is regulated at midnight. Therefore, people who go to bed late never truly get a break from the sympathetic flight/fight stress response, which has led to widespread stress-related health disorders. To maximize hormone function, get to bed by 10 p.m. Endocrinologists (hormone experts) claim that one hour of sleep between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. is equal to two hours of sleep before or after these time slots!
Drinking too much caffeine is almost as bad as not getting enough sleep. It elevates your cortisol levels, lowers your thyroid hormone levels and basically creates havoc throughout your entire body. If you need a little boost, try not to drink more than one or two cups of green tea or coffee. You’ll keep your hormones in check and enjoy the weight loss and cancer-killing benefits as well!
Perform Interval Exercise (Burst Training)
Burst (or interval) training isn’t necessarily new, as elite athletes and Olympians have known this secret to exercising and have been doing interval training for years. An example of burst training would be like going to a track and walking the curves, then sprinting the straightaways. Another possibility is getting on a spin bike and cycling hard for 20 seconds, then going easy for 20 seconds, then repeating that cycle for between 10 to 40 minutes.
Research proves that anybody can do interval training and achieve amazing results, no matter your experience or fitness level. Exercising opens the “hormone faucet,” and releases the right amount of hormones that your body needs. Burst training helps reduce stress levels, enhance your immune system, regulate metabolic function and keep you at the ideal body weight you are designed for. Another major benefit of burst training is that it can be done in the comfort of your own home with no or minimal equipment.
Be sure not to overdo it, as bursting 20 minutes three times a week is plenty, and if you want to add in more exercise try classes like lifting, yoga and Pilates.
Supplement with Vitamin D3
According to an article from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vitamin D3’s role in promoting health is more profound than previously thought. This is why people who live in dark areas suffer from significant depression and health disorders unless they find a way to supplement. Most people should supplement with around 2,000 IU to 5,000 IU daily of vitamin D3 on days they’re not in the sun.
Back Off Birth Control Pills
There are many other (safer) ways to prevent pregnancy, as “the pill” is hormone therapy that raises estrogen to such dangerously high levels that it causes:
- Weight Gain
- Breast Tenderness
- Nausea, Irregular Bleeding or Spotting
- Increased risk of Breast Cancer
- Increased risk of Blood Clotting, Heart Attack & Stroke
- Gallbladder disease
- Increased Blood Pressure
- Mood Changes
- Benign Liver Tumors
Get More Healing Herbs
Adaptogen herbs are healing plants that promote hormone balance and protect the body from a wide variety of diseases. Herbs like ashwagandha and holy basil boost immune function, combat stress, and research even shows that they balances by:
- Improving thyroid function
- Stabilizing blood sugar
- Lowering cholesterol naturally
- Reducing anxiety and depression
- Reducing brain cell degeneration
- Supporting adrenal glands
Eliminate Toxic Household & Body Care Products
Another way to eliminate toxins in your body is to stay away from conventional body care products that are high in DEA, parabens, propylene glycol and sodium lauryl sulfate. Also, the use of regular plastic bottles should be replaced with BPA FREE Plastic, glass and stainless steel because of the BPA toxic effects. In addition, switching from teflon pans to stainless steel, ceramic or cast iron can make a big difference in your hormonal health.
Everyone should be aware of the “Dirty Dozen,” or the 12 Hormone-Altering Chemicals and how to avoid them. There is no end to the things that endocrine disruptors can do to our bodies, like increasing production of certain hormones or decreasing production of others. They can also imitate hormones, turn one hormone into another, interfere with hormone signaling, cause cells to die prematurely, compete with essential nutrients, bind to hormones, and accumulate in organs that produce hormones.
BPA: This chemical used in plastics can imitate the sex hormone estrogen and can trick the body into thinking it’s the real thing. BPA has been linked to everything from breast and others cancers to reproductive problems, obesity, early puberty and heart disease, and according to government tests, 93% of Americans have BPA in their bodies.
To avoid it this toxin, go fresh instead of canned as many food cans are lined with BPA. Take the time to research which companies don’t use BPA or similar chemicals in their products, and watch taking receipts, since thermal paper is often coated with BPA. And avoid plastics marked with a “PC,” for polycarbonate, or recycling label #7.
Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFCs): The chemicals used to make non-stick cookware can stick to you. These chemicals are so widespread and incredibly persistent, that 99% of Americans have them in their bodies. One compound called PFOA has been shown to be completely resistant to biodegradation, which means PFOA doesn’t break down in the environment…ever. So even though the chemical was banned after decades of use, it will be showing up in people’s bodies for countless generations to come. Exposure has been linked to decreased sperm quality, low birth weight, kidney disease, thyroid disease and high cholesterol, among other health issues. Avoid non-stick pans as well as stain and water-resistant coatings on clothing, furniture and carpets.
Dioxin: Dioxins are multi-taskers, just not in a good way, as they form during many industrial processes when chlorine or bromine are burned in the presence of carbon and oxygen. Dioxins can disrupt how both male and female sex hormone signaling occurs in the body, and recent research has shown that even exposure to low levels of dioxin in the womb and early in life can both permanently affect sperm quality and lower the sperm count in men during their prime reproductive years. Dioxins are also very long-lived, build up both in the body and in the food chain, are powerful carcinogens and can also affect the immune and reproductive systems.
To avoid them is pretty difficult, since the ongoing industrial release of dioxin has meant that the American food supply is widely contaminated. Products like meat, fish, milk, eggs and butter are most likely to be contaminated, but you can cut down on your exposure by eating less of these items.
Fire Retardants: In 1999 Swedish scientists studying women’s breast milk discovered something totally unexpected, when they found that milk contained an endocrine-disrupting chemical found in fire retardants, and the levels had been doubling every five years since 1972! These incredibly persistent chemicals, known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers or PBDEs, have been found to contaminate people and wildlife around the globe. These chemicals can imitate thyroid hormones in the body and disrupt their activity. This type of contamination can lead to lower IQ, among other significant health effects. While several kinds of PBDEs have now been phased out, these toxic fire retardants haven’t gone away, as they are incredibly persistent, contaminating people and wildlife for decades to come.
Unfortunately, avoiding these chemicals is virtually impossible, but passing better toxic chemical laws that require lots of testing before they go on the market would help. Also, use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter, which can cut down on toxic-laden house dust; avoid reupholstering foam furniture; take care when replacing old carpet (the padding underneath may contain PBDEs).
Lead: This is one heavy metal you want to avoid, and it’s well known that lead is toxic, especially to children. Lead harms almost every organ system in the body and has been linked to a staggering array of health effects, including permanent brain damage, lowered IQ, hearing loss, miscarriage, premature birth, increased blood pressure, kidney damage and nervous system problems. But another way that lead can affect your body, is by disrupting your hormones.
In studies on animals, lead has been found to lower sex hormone levels, and can disrupt the hormone signaling that regulates the body’s major stress system. Humans typically have more stress in their lives than they want, so the last thing anyone needs is something making it harder for the body to deal with stress. Especially when this stress system is implicated in high blood pressure, diabetes, anxiety and depression.
To avoid lead, keep your home clean and well maintained, and really be aware of crumbling old paint which is a major source of lead exposure. So if you find some, get rid of it carefully. A good water filter can also reduce lead exposure in drinking water, and if you need another reason to eat better, studies show that children with healthy diets absorb less lead.
Arsenic: This toxin has been used in countless murder mysteries, and is actually lurking in our food and drinking water. If you eat enough of it, arsenic will kill you, but in smaller amounts, arsenic can cause skin, bladder and lung cancer. Arsenic also messes with our hormones, and specifically it can interfere with normal hormone functioning that regulates how our bodies process sugars and carbohydrates. This type of disruption has been linked to weight gain/loss, protein wasting, immune system suppression, insulin resistance that can lead to diabetes, osteoporosis, slowed growth and high blood pressure. To avoid it reduce your exposure by using a water filter that lowers arsenic levels.
Mercury: This is a naturally occurring toxic meta that gets into the air and the oceans primarily though burning coal. Eventually, it can end up on your plate in the form of mercury-contaminated seafood. Pregnant women are the most at risk from its toxic effects since the metal is known to concentrate in the fetal brain and can interfere with brain development. Mercury is also known to bind directly with a hormone that regulates menstrual cycles and ovulation, and interferes with normal signaling pathways. This heavy metal may also play a role in diabetes, as it has been shown to damage cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, which is needed for the body to metabolize sugar. For those who still want to eat (sustainable) seafood with lots of healthy fats but without a side of toxic mercury, wild salmon, tuna, and trout are good choices.
Pesticides/Organophosphate: Neurotoxic organophosphate compounds were produced by the Nazis in huge quantities for chemical warfare during World War II, but were luckily never used. After the war, American scientists used the same chemistry to develop pesticides that target the nervous systems of insects. Despite many studies linking organophosphate exposure to effects on brain development, behavior and fertility, they are still among the more common pesticides in use today. A few of the many ways that organophosphates can affect the human body include interfering with the way testosterone communicates with cells, lowering testosterone and altering thyroid hormone levels. To avoid this, buy organic produce, as these fruits and vegetables that have the fewest pesticide residues.
Herbacydes/Atrazine: This chemical is widely used on the majority of corn crops in the United States, and has consequently become a drinking water contaminant, and researchers have found that exposure to even low levels of this herbicide can turn male frogs into females that produce viable eggs. That may not upset you, but Atrazine has also been linked to breast tumors, delayed puberty and prostate inflammation in animals, and some research has linked it to prostate cancer in people. One way to avoid this pitfall is to buy organic produce and get a drinking water filter certified to remove atrazine.
Phthalates: Did you know that a specific signal in our bodies programs cells to die? This is totally normal, as we lose around 50 billion cells in our bodies every day. But studies have shown that phthalates can trigger what’s known as “death-inducing signaling” in testicular cells, making them die earlier than they should. Studies have also linked these chemicals to hormone changes, lower sperm count, less mobile sperm, birth defects in the male reproductive system, obesity, diabetes and thyroid issues.
A good place to start when trying to avoid phthalates is to ditch plastic food containers, children’s toys (some phthalates are already banned in kid’s products), and plastic wrap made from PVC, which has the recycling label #3. Some personal care products also contain phthalates, so read the labels and avoid products that simply list added “fragrance,” as this catch-all term sometimes means hidden phthalates.
Perchlorate: If you would rather not have your food tainted with rocket fuel, avoid perchlorate which is a component in rocket fuel, contaminates much of our produce and milk, according to government test data. When perchlorate gets into our bodies it competes with the nutrient iodine, which the thyroid gland needs to make thyroid hormones. So if you ingest too much it you can end up altering your thyroid hormone balance. These hormones regulate metabolism in adults and are critical for proper brain and organ development in infants and young children.
You can reduce perchlorate in your drinking water by installing a reverse osmosis filter, but with food, it’s pretty much impossible to avoid perchlorate, but you can reduce its potential effects by making sure you are getting enough iodine in your diet.
Glycol Ethers: One thing found to happen to rats exposed to these chemicals is shrunken testicles. These toxins are common solvents in paints, cleaning products, brake fluid and cosmetics. The European Union says that some of these chemicals can cause infertility or harm an unborn child. Studies on painters have linked exposure to certain glycol ethers to blood abnormalities and lower sperm counts. And children who were exposed to glycol ethers from paint in their bedrooms had substantially more asthma and allergies.