What are Hormones? Balance Your Hormones in Seven Natural Steps


Hormones have a huge influence on our health and wellbeing, but you don’t have to become a slave to them. Hormones are chemical messengers that help regulate different processes in the body. From feeling hungry to when it’s time to sleep, we need hormones to keep our bodies on track.

But what happens when your hormones are out of balance? Discover seven natural ways to help prevent hormonal see-saw.

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What are hormones?

Your hormones include adrenaline, insulin and cortisol, and the thyroid hormones, as well as the sex hormones estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.

Hormones are secreted by various glands around the body including your pituitary, thyroid, and adrenal glands, and travel through the bloodstream to reach their target organ.

The hormonal, or endocrine system is complex and often compared to an orchestra, playing a symphony. If all the instruments play in tune, in time, beautiful music results. But if one or more elements goes wrong, the whole production can fall into chaos.

When hormones are out of balance

Hormones can affect nearly all aspects of our health and wellbeing. But we may notice an imbalance most when our sex hormones are out of kilter.

In women, this is most evident at times of change during the reproductive years – puberty, around menstruation, during and after pregnancy, and throughout perimenopause (the five to 10 years leading up to menopause).

Seven steps to rebalancing your hormones

1. Love your gut

According to research published in the Journal of Medicinal Food in 2014, many hormones are actually produced by the beneficial bacteria in the gut (the microbiome). Help keep your gut healthy with a balanced diet, abundant in fruits, vegetables, and whole foods.

Add fermented foods like kefir, kombucha, miso, sauerkraut, and kimchi to your diet, which have been shown to increase the number of friendly bacteria in your gut.

2. Take magnesium

This essential mineral is a muscle relaxant, known to help reduce stress and tension and promote better sleep. It’s known to be useful for relieving PMS and menstrual cramps too.

A study by the University of Edinburgh in 2015 reported that magnesium also helps regulate our body clocks, which stabilizes hormone release throughout the day and night.

3. Focus on sleep

Good sleep helps us keep stress and hunger hormones in check, while poor sleep is associated with higher morning levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

Aim for eight hours sleep a night, sleep in a cool dark room, and try valerian and hops tincture, shown to promote deeper sleep. Avoid drinking caffeine and alcohol in the evenings too.

4. Try adaptogens

This group of herbs may help the body adapt to stress and regulate hormones. They are known to help stabilize blood sugar and insulin, improve mood and support adrenal gland and thyroid function.

A trial by Indian scientists in 2012, and a review of evidence by the Swedish Herbal Institute in 2010, found Siberian ginseng, ashwagandha, and Rhodiola to be particularly useful in managing stressful situations. Several studies have also shown agnus castus to be effective for tackling symptoms of PMS and perimenopause.

5. Make time to exercise

Experts agree that being more active can regulate mood and energy levels. It’s great for relieving feelings of uneasiness and can help relieve PMS. Aim for 150 minutes’ moderate-intensity exercise a week, minimum.

6. Get your vits

The B group of vitamins play a key role in mood and energy. Taking a B-complex supplement could help to regulate stress hormones.

7. Eat the right fat

Short-, medium- and long-chain essential fats are vital for hormone production. Eating a variety may keep inflammation low, boost metabolism, and keep your weight in check.

Include coconut oil, olive oil, and avocados as well as oily fish (salmon, mackerel, trout), flaxseeds, and oil, or take a daily omega-3 supplement. Evidence published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2016 found omega-3s could have an influence on ovulation and female fertility. via hollandandbarrett