Hormones are a hot topic in medicine. As they should be for they govern our mood, immune response, cellular metabolism, brain health, and much more. The major hormones that are frequently talked about are thyroid, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, growth hormone, and cortisol. An imbalance in any of those, and there is usually more than one from what I see in my practice, can cause a host of symptoms such as inability to lose weight no matter what you do (a very frequent presentation in my practice), mental fog, poor stress management, joint pain, digestive issues, hair loss, and the list goes on.
What can cause a hormone imbalance outside of a great nutrition and exercise program?
Lifestyle: yo-yo dieting or excessive dieting, stress, poor sleep, underlying health conditions, toxic environment, poor nutrition, excessive exercise with minimal recovery, and of course, substance abuse.
Age: as we age we naturally experience a decline in sex hormone production. However, anyone can experience a hormone imbalance and I have seen this happen across multiple age brackets.
Genetics: some thyroid conditions such as Hashimoto’s can run in families. Knowing your family history can help in establishing the appropriate self care to either prevent or know when to talk to your doctor.
Food allergies or sensitivities: when you have food allergies or sensitivities, this can cause poor absorption of nutrients, gut microbiome imbalance, inflammation, and poor elimination of hormone metabolites or breakdown products which can create further damage.
Knowing what can cause an imbalance, you can take a targeted approach to getting back into balance. Below are my top 5 favorite ways to improve hormone production and metabolism:
Adaptogenic herbs—with adaptogenic herbs consistency is key. Some of my go to herbs include Ashwaghanda, Maca, Holy Basil, Rhodiola, and Eleuthero. Ashwaghanda is a great adaptogenic herb, because you can take it in the morning or evening and it will help create a proper cortisol response. It can also help with testosterone production in both men and women.
Glandular products—these come from the hormone producing glands of animals, usually cows and pigs. They contain dried and ground-up raw animal glandular tissues or extracts from either single or multiple glands including thyroid, thymus, adrenals, pituitary, ovaries, and testes.
Vitamins—there are key nutrients such as Vitamins B12, B5, B6, fish oil, primrose oil, DIM, and selenium that are important for hormone production, breakdown, and adrenal & thyroid function. These nutrients are important as they contribute to important steps in hormone synthesis, liver detoxification, energy production, and nutrition for the main glands.
Sweat—this is one of the best ways to get rid of accumulated toxins and prevent toxin accumulation. There are many great ways to sweat including exercise and infrared sauna. Most toxins found in water, food, air, and cosmetics are endocrine disruptors so minimizing exposure to them and eliminating them is one of the most important steps to balancing hormones.
Decrease toxin load—this is in addition to step 4. Choosing food that is organic, getting a good water filter such as PUR filtration, minimizing charbroiled foods, choosing cosmetic products that are free of metals, phalates, and other contaminants, and minimizing substance us are some of the best ways to limit toxin exposure.
Doing a cleanse such as a 7 day cleanse quick start that contains antimicrobial herbs, fiber, and dietary guidelines can be a great way to decrease toxin load, facilitate toxin removal, and get you setup to eat and live a more healthy lifestyle!
If you have any questions on the topic or want to learn more about how you can improve your health and start getting the results your want drop me a note at [email protected]
About the Author
Dr. Zinkov’s background as a competitive athlete introduced her to the world of sports medicine and how nutrition impacts performance. From there she grew passionate about finding the most innovative and evidence-based techniques for pain management. For more information about her work and the original link to her blog, visit this page.