The new year always feels like a fresh opportunity to focus on a few new habits. Here are our some easy-to-integrate hormone balance tips that can make a major difference in absolutely every woman’s overall health and wellness.
Hormone balance tips that make a difference
Life is busy, and trying to do all the things to help yourself feel healthier can leave you completely worn out. But you don’t have to incorporate a ton of complex or hard-to-accomplish tips into your life to help your hormone balance. Try these simple ideas instead.
Switch out your water bottle and ditch the plastic containers when possible
Many people have heard not to use plastic and think that plastics have estrogen. They don’t. However, what some plastic products do have is BPA, a chemical that can mimic estrogen. High estrogen can create lots of symptoms and issues and raise your risk for some cancers.
But are plastic products labeled “BPA-free” safe? One study showed that even some non-BPA items leached chemicals with estrogenic activity, especially when exposed to ultraviolet light. Whenever you can, choose glass water bottles or containers or products made from aluminum. Also, go for filtered water over tap.
Start a nighttime sleep hygiene routine
Hormone imbalances can cause insomnia, and insomnia makes hormone imbalances worse. To help support better sleep (and hormone balance), commit to a better sleep routine… and keep it up nightly.
A good sleep routine lets your body know it’s time to de-stress and rest. If you’re hungry, have a small snack with a little protein, fat, and healthy carbs. Carbs can lower cortisol and help you relax. Get any thoughts of your mind with a quick write down in a list or journal. Wash your face. Brush your teeth. And turn off devices to help your body naturally produce melatonin. By raising your melatonin levels, you’ll help yourself fall asleep faster. (Plus melatonin is good for your body in so many other ways.) When you climb in bed, take a few deep breaths to relax and center.
Include more fiber into your meals and snacks
Protein gets a lot of the focus these days. And it is important. But so is fiber. Fiber binds to extra estrogen in your intestines and helps you stay regular. (So that excess estrogen leaves your body rather than recirculating.) How much fiber should you get? Recommendations sit at about 25 to 30 grams a day, which is about double what most of us are getting. But instead of strictly monitoring your intake, most of us should just aim to eat a well-rounded diet with lots of colorful, whole, health-supportive foods.
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussel sprouts contain sulfur, which gives detoxification an extra boost. Getting these in on a regular basis (ideally on the daily) is a great way to boost your nutrients and balance your hormones. And to really reap the benefits of fiber, it’s important to stay hydrated to avoid constipation. At minimum, you want to get half your body weight in ounces, or more if you’re working out. So, if you weigh 150 lbs, you’d want to get 75 ounces of water a day, minimum.
When it comes to fiber, going above and beyond the recommendations isn’t necessarily better. This is especially true if you’re premenopausal and still having menstrual cycles. In one study, overdoing it on fiber led to lower levels of hormones that are important for reproduction: luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), progesterone, and estrogen. Also, too much fiber isn’t good if you’re being treated for hypothyroidism. It can interfere with how your body absorbs your medication.
Ditch diets that cut macronutrients, unless your physician has said otherwise
Decided to try going low fat? Keto? Low carb? Unless your healthcare provider has given you that advice, don’t do it on your own. Except in specific instances and under medical care, bodies need all three macronutrients in their diet. Your body uses healthy fats to help make hormones. And, it needs quality carbohydrates, too. Without carbs, your body’s thyroid hormone levels can decline and actually slow your metabolism. Also, no to low carbohydrates makes your body up its cortisol production and leaves it hard for your body to have a menstrual cycle.
Move your body
Exercise leaves a lot of people wondering where to start. For perfectionists, there can be this feeling of: well, if I don’t do a workout 100%, I might as well skip it. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, most of us are overthinking what activity is and what it looks like. Formal exercise is great, but so is going for a walk, carrying your groceries out to the car, running around with the kids, and stretching. If you can’t get into move-mode, work with a coach who can give you doable ideas and help keep you accountable.
Rethink how you frame your thoughts, so you stress less
If you incorporate none of the other ideas here but do this one, you’ll have benefitted. Stress is the biggest culprit for hormone imbalances because it raises our stress hormones. These stress hormones causes imbalances in the rest of the body. They lead to low progesterone and affect thyroid function, both of which can leave you with weight gain, headaches, irregular periods, and more.
De-stressing looks different for everyone. Some helpful tips are deep breathing, yoga, taking five for yourself, meditating, and picking up a new hobby. But one thing that gets overlooked is setting boundaries. Boundaries help us preserve our sense of self, our time, and how much of ourselves we give to others. Saying no and creating clear lines in your life can be great at lowering stress.