by Dr. Ritamarie Loscalzo MS, DC, CCN, DACBN
September 3, 2009
If you think that the symptoms of hormone imbalance are limited to the discomforts of PMS, hot flashes, and other common menopausal discomforts, and that the solution is medication or “white knuckling it”, you’re not alone.
Hormone imbalances contribute to a myriad of common complaints that most people don’t consider hormone related, including inability to shed excess body fat, fatigue, hair loss, palpitations, skin problems, and a host of others. Chronic and debilitating diseases like fibromyalgia, diabetes, osteoporosis and heart disease are hormone related as well.
There are 7 essential, yet often overlooked strategies for balancing your hormones that are crucial keys to living a vibrant, healthy and balanced life.
1) Adopt an Attitude of Gratitude. Stress is one of the key contributors to hormone imbalance. When you’re in a stressful situation, your body produces a cascade of chemicals—hormones, enzymes and neurotransmitters –– that mobilize your body to escape or fight. This is what’s often known as fight flight mode, and most Americans live there 24/7. When this is chronic, the excessive demands of on your adrenal glands, the “stress soldiers”, causes less nutrients and hormone precursors to be available to make other hormones like estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and DHEA. Studies show that you can transform a stressful state through the power of deep breathing and appreciation. Take frequent deep breathing and appreciation breaks throughout the day to support your hormones.
2) Get Enough Sleep. While there is not a one size fits all prescription concerning the amount of sleep you need, you do need to figure out what your body really requires, and get it on a consistent basis. During sleep, your body takes out the broom and mop and goes to work cleaning up from the “mess” of the day. Insufficient sleep will leave you tired from the metabolic debris that doesn’t get cleaned up and will throw your hormones into a tailspin. One particular hormone, called leptin, is particularly sensitive to variations in sleep cycle. Leptin controls your appetite and metabolic rate. Insufficient sleep will result in lower leptin levels leading to slower metabolism and weight gain.
3) Optimize your Digestion. Eating on the run, eating processed foods, trans fat containing foods and hard to digest, heavy meals will lead to undigested food particles, damage to your digestive track and physical stress. This can affect the adrenal glands just as significantly as physiological stress, leading to the same hormone imbalances as being “stressed-out”. Stick to unprocessed, whole fresh foods, eaten slowly and with gratitude. You can also take enzymes and probiotics to help your digestion purr.
4) Avoid plastic drinking and food containers. These contain what’s known as xenoestrogens, which are estrogen look alikes that bind to estrogen receptors. Xenoestrogens can cause endometriosis, ovarian cysts, breast cancer and fetal abnormalities. Other sources of xenoestrogens are detergents, some skin lotions and soaps, commercially raised meat and dairy, spermicides, and herbicides. The xenoestrogens leach from the plastic food containers into the food or water. Heat increases the amount of xenoestrogen that gets into the food or water. Use ceramic or glass as much as possible, NEVER heat anything in a plastic container,and use only pure, chemical free body and home care products.
5) Do periodic cleansing. Your liver works hard to keep your blood clean, but the overwhelming number of toxins from both external and internal sources can overwhelm its capacity. As a result, toxins are stored in fat, leading to resistant weight loss. In addition, when the liver is overburdened by toxins it can’t adequately convert “used” hormones, to water soluble forms for excretion. As a result, these”used” hormones recirculate and bind to hormone receptors, thus displacing the active hormones. This is particularly problematic for estrogen, and can lead to such symptoms as PMS, hot flashes, mood swings and uncomfortable menses. Periodic breaks in the action with a green juice or green smoothie cleanse can restore balance.
6) Eat plenty of sea greens. In addition to containing all the minerals known to be important in human health, and most likely many that have yet to be discovered, sea vegetables are powerful detoxifiers. They have the ability to bind heavy metals and carry them out of the body. Heavy metals can disrupt hormone balance. A study in 1998 in the Journal of Human Reproduction linked heavy metals with recurrent miscarriage. Their conclusion was that heavy metals negatively impacted both ovarian and pituitary function. Sea vegetables are especially important for thyroid hormone hormone production, as they contain iodine, a mineral that’s deficient in land vegetables due to mineral depletion of our soils. Studies have shown that a particular species of the sea vegetable kombu, called laminaria digitata actually contains T3 and T4, the thyroid hormones.
7) Run away from heated fats. When heated above about 118 degrees, unsaturated fats oxidize, producing free radicals that damage your glands, organs and cells. Free radical damage is one of the key underlying causes of hormone imbalance and most other health challenges. The heated oils disrupt your natural production of prostaglandins, small messengers that regulate everything from hormone production to smooth muscle contraction. Eat fats in their raw and unprocessed state and be sure to get enough omega 3 fatty acids daily, in the form of chia seed, flax seed, hemp seed, pumpkin seed and blue green algae.
Hormone balance is a complicated process. When the conditions are right, your glands will function normally and you’ll notice a difference in how you feel. It takes a bit of time and diligence to make the lifestyle and diet changes needed to have healthy hormone balance, and it’s worth it. Give yourself time to incorporate the changes. Seek the support of a natural health practitioner who can personalize your program, and add specific herbs and foods that support your uniqueness. Remember to stay focused on the solution rather than the problem, and appreciate the choices in front of you. While this is not a comprehensive list,it’s a great place for you to start to balance your hormones and live a happy, healthy life.
Join Dr. Ritamarie and I starting September 8th for an “Ageless Woman’s Health” 3 night telecourse…
For almost two decades, Dr. Ritamarie Loscalzo has been supporting women in restoring their energy and balancing their hormones so that can become the vibrant healthy and happy women they were born to be. She’s a certified clinical nutritionist and chiropractor with certifications in acupuncture, Heart Math(TM) stress transformation technologies and herbal medicine. She transformed her own life through the power of whole living foods, cleansing and nutrition and she’s passionate about empowering others to do the same. She resides in Austin, Texas with her husband and 2 sons.