Hidden Triggers of Hormone Imbalance

Our lifestyle – what we eat, how we think, and what we choose to do in our free-time – impacts our health up to five times more than genetics do.  

Signs of hormone imbalance such as breast cancer, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, insulin-resistance, hypoglycemia, thyroid irregularities, low testosterone, menopausal disorder, etc. are as varied as the potential causes.  However, there are several things we can consider with mostly just diet alone that can help treat or, ideally, prevent these problems.

Step One:  Use Caution

1.  Processed vegetable oils:  almost all processed or pre-packaged foods are made with refined vegetable oils (soybean oil, margarine, shortening, anything “partially-hydrogenated”).  These oils synthesize hormones in our bodies that can cause massive inflammation and blood clotting problems.  

2.  “Commerical” meats and animal products:  most meats, including “farmed fish,” eggs that are not “free-range” or “cage-free,” and dairy products that do not specify that they are from cows not treated with hormones or anitibiotics potentially contain unnaturally higher amounts of growth hormones that may cause over-production of irregular cells (read:  cancer) in our bodies, or encourage irregular hormone production.  

3.  Sugar and carbohydrates (grain and starch-based products):  an increase in sugar and carbohydrates in your diet in turn spike your insulin which in turn spikes your cortisol and can lead to increased feelings of stress, fatigue after eating meals, weight gain and insulin-resistence.  This will furthermore lead to a weakening of your adrenal glands (your stress and hormone glands) which help to regulate the normal production of estrogen,  progesterone, and testosterone.

4.  Caffeine:  in reality, more studies need to be done to ascertain exactly how caffeine, in particular coffee, effects our hormones.  Some research indicates that it decreases estrogen levels, but other studies indicate that it improves estrogen metabolism.  For certain, though, too much coffee (more than 2 cups per day) do increase the tendency to grow uterine and breast fibroids as well as decrease the ability for your body to absorb iron.  A lack of iron, from the perspective of Chinese medicine, decreases your Liver’s ability to circulate hormones properly.  Another problem with excessive caffeine intake is how it mimics the stress response in our bodies.  Increase of stress hormones like cortisol impair the proper release of normal male and female hormones and can also lead to weight gain.  

Step 2:  Increase

1.  Healthy fats and oils:  coconut oil, flaxseed oil, and olive oil for example help your body synthesize new hormones and repair cellular damage.  A few other nice “side-effects” to including plenty of healthy oils in your diet:  you stay feeling fuller longer after a meal, and oils help to regulate your nervous system and help you stay relaxed.  

2.  Cruciferous vegetables:  broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage are rich in phytoestrogens (plant-based estrogens) that help bind to estrogen-receptor sites in your body, preventing estrogen-deficiency signs (menopause hot flashes, vaginal dryness) and help prevent the build-up of xeno-estrogens (environmental estrogens) that cause a toxic build-up (cancer, endometriosis, fibroids and cysts) in your body.  

3.  Flavinoid-rich fruit:  fruits and berries of various colors are also rich in phytoestrogens.

4.  Tofu, tempeh, and soy beans (edamame):  as long as you avoid GMO soy (we don’t know exactly how that will effect our health yet), fresh soy bean and fermented soy products such as tofu and tempeh are very rich in phytoestrogens and can help with estrogen-deficiency signs.  

5.  Protein:  Increasing your protein intake is essential for hormone balance.  If your protein intake is too low, you will crave sugar more often and your insulin levels will continue to cause imbalance.  For men, oysters, eggs, crab, liver, and peanuts are all very high in zinc and can help with low testosterone.  For women and men, eggs, nuts and seeds, hemp protein, free-range chicken, turkey, beef, lamb or buffalo, and seafood are all good options.  

Do you know anyone with a hormone problem or someone complaining about weight gain around their mid-section (usually related to cortisol and insulin imbalance)?  Forward this article to them or share it on Facebook.  

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