Contributor: Kelly Schmidt, RD, LDN
Versión en español aquí.
Hormones are fragile, essential, frustrating, and amazing all at once. Often hormone imbalance symptoms are overlooked but crucial to our health and wellness. Some signs of hormonal imbalance include:
- an inability to lose weight
- weight gain
- mood swings
- brain fog
- sleep troubles
- excess fatigue
- PMS (PMS can be the average but isn’t normal)
- low tolerance to stress
- excess weight around the mid-section and or hips and thighs,
- low sex drive
Many women share this laundry list of symptoms, but starting now, there are things we can do to improve the hormonal imbalance. The first step in finding relief begins with lifestyle and removing the problems, beginning with hormone disruptors such as:
- Birth control
- Plastics – coming from Ziplock bags to water bottles, shower curtains, etc. Plastic is tough on our endocrine system beyond BPA. Even if items may be marketed as BPA-free, that doesn’t mean the problem is fixed.
- Chemical ingredients in our food and drink, including wine. There are 70+ chemicals allowed in wine to enhance the mouthfeel, taste, and color. Most often, if I imbibe, I will order Dry Farm Wine. It’s also worth noting that alcohol itself can influence hormone balance in the body.
- Opt for glass water bottles, storage containers, and silverware, and wash all the kiddie plates and sippy cups by hand rather than cleaning and heating them in a dishwasher. Research shows that even low-dose exposure can be harmful. From altered immune function to stimulating cancer, BPA and the likes are not worth it.
- Ask for receipts to be sent to your email when possible. Holding a receipt for 5 seconds can transmit endocrine disruptors through the skin.
- Review any chemicals in makeup, body and shower products, cleaning supplies, fragrances, detergents, etc. We absorb up to 70% of what we put on our skin. This is especially true for that product we want to work 24/7: aka deodorant. My favorite natural deodorant is Schmidt’s (and not because it happens to be the same name as my last name!) Try out a few to see what works best for your body before giving up.
- Avoid chemicals in conventionally grown produce. I had a client comment to me how odd it is that her mouth itches every time she eats an apple that isn’t organic. I echoed how this symptom is uncomfortable but not far from the norm. Our food is sprayed with pesticides and herbicides and can be contaminated with industrial runoff. As much as possible, buy and eat organic food to limit exposure to such chemicals, or be sure to give conventional produce a good wash.
- Filtered water is far safer and healthier than tap. Tap water can be contaminated with lead and other residues. Filter water for drinking, bathing, and showering if you can.
Secondly, give your liver some love. The liver is not only our fat-burning organ but also a detoxing machine. Moving blood sugars, common in those with diabetes, can stress the liver due to the impact on the gut and the demand to store glucose. Nurture your detox pathways by including these methods:
- Choose supplements wisely, such as high-quality probiotics, herbs, fiber powders (including PaleoFiber RS, which also supports insulin sensitivity), methylated vitamins, or a real food cleanse*).
- Eat real food grown in nature, rather than packaged, as much as possible.
- Eat clean protein sources (that are wild, grass-fed, pasture-raised, organic).
- Sweat often.
- Drink half of your weight in ounces of clean water every day.
- Nurture your gut health (eat foods you love, but love you back).
- Strive to keep blood sugar levels at goal.
- Eat balanced meals with 1/3 of your plate coming from protein sources, 1/3 of your plate from high-fiber complex carbs (root vegetables, fruit, intact grains), and 1/3 of your plate from non-starchy vegetables.
- Make sure you feed your gut bugs by consuming enough fiber (30-50 grams a day).
Last but not least, embrace a graceful mindset. Stress competes with sex hormones, and if you are chronically under stress, your other efforts in regulating hormones are nearly a wash. A few realistic tips:
- Step out of bed and rehearse this phrase every single day: “It’s going to be a great day.” It’s impactful how this 10-second habit can influence your outlook over the next 24 hours.
- Organize your environment, your kitchen, and your calendar. Don’t be the “Type E” adult, where you can do everything. Opt for things that feel like a Hell Yes and let everything else go.
- Start the day with a list of things you are grateful for. You can do this in your head, or better yet, whip out a journal. Today I am grateful for my children’s smiles, for my insulin pump, and for my iPhone so I can Facetime and easily connect with my husband while he is traveling.
- In bed, at the end of the day, run through some winnings you had for the day, a reason you love yourself, are proud of yourself, and something you could learn from or go about differently the next day.
Stress isn’t bad, but it becomes harmful if we can’t manage it. Reel it in, use it to help you grow, and let go of what you can. Get plenty of rest and go live your fullest life, being patient with your journey. Balancing hormones can take 3-6 months on average, but it depends on the case and level of commitment.
Cheers to you and good health!
* Vitamins are tricky. Bottom-line, you want to source pharmaceutical-grade vitamins that are sold by a health practitioner. Supplements are not FDA regulated, and you want to be careful with what brands you trust. Getting supplements from a health practitioner is the best method to know you are supplementing correctly and getting a high-quality end product. If you need help, reach out and send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with me on Instagram @diabeticdietian.
Kelly Schmidt, RD, LDN is the founder of Kelly Schmidt Wellness, a wellness business changing the landscape of blood sugar management with holistic nutrition strategies for busy women with diabetes. While eating is a necessity, knowing how to eat well is an art. Kelly can guide you on how to craft your healthiest recipe for life. Follow her on Instagram @diabeticdietitian or reach her by email: email@example.com.