Women's hormone imbalance occurs when the glands in the body that make up the hormonal or endocrine system produce too much or too little of the particular hormone it is responsible for. This imbalance can occur for many reasons.
In midlife for you to enjoy, sustained energy all day, good sleep at night, digestion with no hiccups (so to speak) and a healthy metabolism that allows you to lose weight easily, it is important to keep these glands happy.
These are the glands that are responsible for all of the functions in our bodies
- Hypothalamus – Bossy dude, tells the pituitary gland to stop and start making hormones.
- Pituitary – brainy dude, uses information from the brain to tell the other glands what to do as well as a role in growth, metabolism, energy among other things
- Pineal – produces melatonin which modulates sleep
- Thyroid – controls your metabolism
- Parathyroid – keeps your bones healthy
- Adrenals – known mainly for making adrenaline that feeds you the extra energy you need to run when confronted by a lion, which is good because in normal circumstances I wouldn’t get one foot to the ground before he had me in between his incisors.
- Pancreas – provides insulin, digestive enzymes and glucagon
- Ovaries – responsible for estrogen and progesterone
To keep these glands healthy there are foods we can eat that help and foods we should avoid.
Of course, the list of foods we should avoid is looooong.
They are easy to spot because every other article on healthy food spouts their evil doings.
- Saturated Fats
- Processed carbs
- Too much caffeine – notice I say “too much” because one cup actually does some good and there is no way in hell or on earth that I will be giving that up!
- Excess alcohol
Which foods will help keep each gland happy?
The pineal gland
is supported by foods rich in B5 and B6 to help with the production and distribution of that all-important hormone, melatonin. Melatonin naturally sets our circadian rhythms helping us to fall asleep and stay asleep. Foods good for these two vitamins are lentil beans, avocados, sweet potatoes, tuna and turkey.
Sleep-deprived mums take note.
The tiny pea-sized pituitary gland
with the king-sized job of regulating growth.
This needs vitamins D and E, so, meats, fish, eggs, nuts, leafy greens, avocado, and seeds keep it happy.
It also gobbles any Manganese you can give it so again with the leafy greens and almonds. Also pineapple, acai and dark chocolate.
I’m pretty sure there could be a delicious dessert to be whipped up with those last three. In researching this I came across this recipe with the hilarious description of insomnia. I can so relate at the moment.
likes olive oil so go to town. I drizzle it instead of butter. Or, a little tip, if you freeze some in a jar then put in the fridge once it is down to fridge temperature it is like a spread.
For healthy function, the thyroid
likes its nuts and vegetables, particularly cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli and Brussel sprouts. My favourite veg to eat is baked Brussel sprouts. Quarter and bake them on an oven tray on medium drizzled with plenty of olive oil and salt and pepper. Make sure you throw in all of the outer leaves, when they go brown and crispy they are delish!
Gluten is one you particularly want to avoid for decent thyroid function. I recommend getting rid of it altogether. It has no positive function in a healthy diet.
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FOODS TO EAT TO KEEP YOUR HORMONES HAPPY
Lose weight easier, sleep better, feel amazing.
As with any health regime
it is standard to include exercise. When you start exercising, the thyroid gland produces hormones that regulate the body’s temperature, heart rate and blood pressure. The pituitary gland releases human growth hormone while exercising, which tells the body to increase bone, muscle and tissue production.
Your take-home – eat healthily and exercise regularly.
So what happens when these hormones get themselves out of balance?
Natural solutions for women’s hormone imbalance
As you go through perimenopause and into menopause you will hear terms such as hormonal imbalance, hormonal changes, adrenal fatigue, how hormones affect your health, and many other variations.
Before I became peri-menopausal I didn’t know what the heck a hormone was. All I knew was I felt bloody awful and I needed to do something about it before someone was accidentally on purpose stabbed in the eye!
So what exactly is a hormone? What the hell does a hormone do? What happens when hormones are not in balance? How can I tell if my hormones are in balance or if I have a hormonal imbalance?
What Is A Hormone And What Do They Do?
Simply put a hormone is a chemical substance that acts as a messenger to control functions within the body. Sleep, MOOD, digestion, reproduction, metabolism, and stress are all controlled by hormones.
In the case of hormonal imbalance we can experience a range of symptoms:
- weight -gain
- adrenal fatigue
- dry skin
- fogginess and many more.
These are the hormones responsible for these symptoms
The stress hormone. If this is consistently too high or too low you can feel fatigued.
This is the fight or flight hormone. It is released in response to a stressful, exciting, dangerous, or threatening situation.
Even if minds are only thinking about a stressful situation they can’t perceive that it isn’t happening at that exact moment.
So you may not be actually right in the middle of some yell fest with the company that supplies your god awful slow internet. Right now you’re just lying in bed and imagining the call that you are going to make to the company whose contract with you is on shaky ground.
In both cases, adrenaline is released. At night this could cause restlessness and lack of sleep.
Overtime excessive adrenaline can cause high blood pressure, and elevate your risk of heart attacks or stroke. Weight gain, anxiety, and insomnia could also show up.
If this hormone is out of balance you might experience tiredness, depression, dry skin, brain fog and weight gain as well as several other issues.
If your estrogen ratios are out, which can often be the case in perimenopause or menopause then you have quite a few possible side effects to look forward to and vaginal dryness, hot flushes, night sweats, brain fog, and depression are just some of them.
Too much of this and you might notice excessive hair on your face and arms, acne or even polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Not enough and there is the possibility of weight gain, fatigue and low sex drive.
Here it is not a case of imbalance that causes problems but the body is possibly resistant to insulin. The body still makes the hormone but doesn’t use it efficiently which is a pre-diabetic marker. Being resistant can show up as cravings for sweets, tiredness after eating, increased thirst, or difficulty losing weight.
How do we keep our hormones in balance?
Include the foods mentioned earlier.
Eat a healthy diet adequate in high-quality protein.
Cut out processed foods and foods high in sugar and refined carbs.
Eat plenty of fatty fish rich in Omega 3 fatty acids.
Drink green tea - green tea has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity and lower insulin levels for those who struggle with weight and insulin resistance.
Include soluble fibre in your diet such as leafy greens, nuts and seeds.
Manage your stress levels. Try for 10 minutes minimum of a stress-reducing activity such as yoga, meditation or reading.
Get enough quality sleep. Stop watching Netflix and go to bed at a reasonable time. Try to get at least 7 hours.
Move. Do a mix of aerobic and resistance training. Walk. Try multi-tasking, walk and meditate.
The Bottom Line
You need your hormones to be in balance for your body to function optimally. If they are imbalanced your risk of health issues such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes and more increases.
Menopause and ageing can make it difficult to keep your hormones balanced but follow the tips here and you should have them doing a happy dance.
Your hormones are involved in every part of your body's functions. They are delivered to where they are needed in exact amounts so your body can function optimally.
As with any healthy endeavour eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly and keeping stress to a minimum and getting plenty of sleep can go a long way toward hormonal health.