Balancing female hormones through diet & lifestyle (part 1)
You guys asked for it, so I finally created it! Here’s my blog post all about balancing female hormones. This is one of the top questions/concerns I hear from my audience and my clients, so I am excited to dive into all things female hormones with you today. There is SO much that goes into female sex hormones, and I could not possibly cover it all in one short blog post. So, this is part 1 and over the coming weeks I will be diving into some of these subtopics- be sure to comment on here or my social channels to let me know which subtopics you want me to cover in more depth.
Estrogen & Progesterone- Yin & Yang
Before we dive into balancing hormones, we need to discuss what these hormones are and what they do. There is a whole cocktail of hormones that balance and regulate the female reproductive system. The two main players in this are estrogen and progesterone (there are LOTS more, we are just scratching the surface today). Your body needs more estrogen during your follicular phase to prepare your uterus for ovulation, and it needs more progesterone after ovulation (luteal phase) to prepare for shedding the uterine lining (this is when you bleed). I’ll be referring to these hormones and these phases of your menstrual cycle throughout this post, so here’s a simple diagram to help explain what’s happening during the cycle of a woman who is not on hormonal birth control.
Estrogen Dominance- the hidden health problem affecting thousands of women
Keeping your sex hormones balanced is essential in your overall health. When they’re balanced, you feel good and probably don’t notice anything going on in your body. When they are imbalanced, your body will find subtle and not-so-subtle ways to tell you! Too much estrogen (referred to as estrogen dominance) can cause breast tenderness, weight gain, heavy periods, headaches, mood swings, and even put you at risk for many diseases such as breast cancer. Not enough estrogen can cause insomnia, depression, vaginal dryness, and more. If progesterone is low, it can cause anxiety, irregular periods, and mid-cycle spotting. These are just a few symptoms of a hormonal imbalance.
We live in trying times for our hormones. There are so many chemicals sprayed on our foods, in our beauty products, and even in our water and air that really mess with our hormones. Because of the skincare and cosmetic products we use, women are unknowingly putting on hundred of chemicals per day. Many of these chemicals are estrogenic (meaning they promote more estrogen in our bodies), which cause many women to unknowingly suffer from estrogen dominance. Estrogen levels can also be impacted by gut health, stress, and sleep quality (which I will dive into later).
Using food to help balance your sex hormones
This is one of the simplest ways to start balancing your hormones- pay attention to what you eat. Try to limit the amount of chemicals you are consuming by purchasing organic produce- use EWG’s Dirty Dozen as a guide to what produce you should always purchase organic, and the Clean Fifteen for what produce you don’t have to buy organic. These lists are updated every year. Always buy grass-fed and pastured meats to avoid exposing yourself to hormone-disrupting chemicals that are fed to conventionally raised animals. Limit your intake of processed foods and ingredients you can’t pronounce. Eat lots of healthy fats such as olive oil, coconut oil, grass-fed butter + ghee, and avocado.
Avoid majorly processed foods. If you follow me on Instagram, I’m always sharing product swaps so you don’t feel like you’re missing out on all of the “fun” food that life has to offer 😊
In addition to chemical-free foods, there are some other simple hacks you can do to improve your sex hormone levels. One of my favorites is seed cycling. If you recall my diagram earlier, you’ll remember that you need more of certain hormones at different points in your cycle. Seed cycling is a very gentle way to promote estrogen and progesterone at different points in your cycle using nature’s medicine- food! This is something I have personally used to regulate my period after getting off the birth control pill. I can finally say, after being off the pill for years and struggling with an irregular period, that my period is a 28-29 day cycle!!
During your follicular phase (starting day one of your period, lasting up until ovulation) Your body needs more estrogen to help build the lining of the uterine wall to prepare for ovulation. Eating pumpkin seeds and flax seeds every day will assist your body in creating the right types of estrogen and flushing out any excess.
During your luteal phase (after ovulation and up until you start your period) your body needs more progesterone to prepare to shed the uterine lining (aka bleed). Eating sunflower seeds and sesame seeds will assist your body in promoting the right levels of progesterone.
How to do it: Make sure you get organic, RAW seeds (not roasted or salted). Aim for 1 tablespoon per day of each seed, and make sure you grind them up before consuming. I personally like to add them to my smoothie every day- that’s the easiest way to get them in without having to think/prepare too much!
Seed cycling is great for irregular periods and managing PMS symptoms, but keep in mind, it is gentle and takes time- give it a couple of months for your body to get in a good rhythm.
Stay tuned for part 2 of this blog series all about balancing female hormones! Thanks for reading and as always, I love to hear your feedback + success stories so please connect with me on my social channels or by email.