Most hormonal changes occur during the 2nd half of the menstrual cycle, also termed as PMS (premenstrual syndrome), menopause and also during and after pregnancy. Hormonal changes affect women physically too. The physical changes are manifested in the form of weight changes, energy levels, hair loss, skin changes, alterations in libido and others.
There are other factors too which cause hormonal imbalance such as inadequate or improper nutrition, stress, extreme exercises, obesity or PCOD (polycystic ovarian disease).
How to tackle hormonal imbalances:
- Consuming more of whole grain products rather than refined helps maintain optimum insulin levels. This in turn regulates hormonal levels. Foods that cause a strain on the adrenal glands should be avoided. Excess activity of the adrenal glands causes stress due to release of the hormone adrenaline. Foods like refined carbohydrates, excess of sugary treats, artificial sweeteners and trans-fats are examples of such foods. As a woman ages, she should avoid having wheat and dairy products as the body does not easily process these foods, causing adrenal stress. Caffeinated drinks should be consumed in moderation as they cause stress hormones like cortisol to rise.
- Consume more of cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts. Phytoestrogen-containing compounds like soy products and Mexican yam are good hormone balancers.
- Products containing essential fatty acids like the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are good hormone stabilizers. Linseed oil, evening primrose oil and cod liver oil are good sources. These are very good in normalizing hormonal irregularities.
- Evening primrose oil contains gamma linolenic acid (omega-6-fatty acid) which is necessary by the body to produce prostaglandins, the hormone-like substances that help regulate body functions.
- Cod liver oil contains vitamins and omega-3-fatty acids which keep a check on the activity of omega-6-fatty acids, so as to avoid overproduction of hormones. A healthy ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is important for optimal hormonal balance. Apart from restoring hormonal balance, these oils help maintain a healthy metabolism and good skin.
- Alcohol consumption should be kept to a minimum as it causes major disruptions in the female hormonal cycles. More of organic foods should be consumed. Certain pesticides can mimic the action of estrogen, leading to weight gain and even cancer. Monosodium glutamate (MSG), which is commonly added in Chinese food for flavoring, should be completely eliminated from food as it is a potential carcinogen. It is capable of disturbing the hormonal balance.
- Diseases like PCOD should be given timely medical treatment and should not be ignored. PCOD can also lead to high blood pressure, infertility and breast cancer. Hormonal disorders are highly capable of causing impotency. Diabetes, PCOD, Thyroid problems are also linked to hormone problems and are capable of inducing impotency in women.
- Cutting down on excess fat helps a lot in regulating the hormones. Excess weight causes hormonal imbalance which can cause problems in embryo implantation and development among women with PCOD.
- Drink clean water regularly to flush out the excess hormones. Excess of hormones can disrupt the body functions. Keep your digestive system intact and smooth-functioning. An ill digestive system also wrecks your hormonal balance. Foods like gluten, dairy products and soy products are highly likely to causes digestive discomfort and allergies. So, see to it that they suit your system.
- Eat a balanced meal consisting of adequate carbs, proteins and fats. Eliminating either of these macronutrients can cause hormone disturbances. However, choose healthy fats like avocados, nuts and olives.
By Roger Jennings