Following my last few blogs, we now know some of the ways that poor gut health can impact on your hormonal balance - so what can you do about it? Here are a few ways that you can improve your hormonal balance by supporting your gut health.
Remember, this advice is general in nature, and will not work for everyone since we’re all different! If you suspect you have poor gut health or hormonal imbalances, I always recommend consulting a qualified practitioner. Also, I’m not going to cover some of the basics, which you can easily find in an online search anyway – these are some different ideas to consider, which you probably aren’t already doing.Eat healthy fat and avoid the harmful kind.
These are fats you should avoid: vegetable oils, peanut oil, canola oil, soybean oil, cottonseed oil, sunflower oil, margarine, shortening or "spreads" — all of which are high in omega-6.
Your friendly fats: coconut oil, avocados, olive oil, grapeseed oil, and other healthy sources of saturated fat that boost your hormones. You need cholesterol for formation of healthy cell membranes. We can't have proper hormonal balance without adequate amounts of saturated fats.
Adding oily fish and fish oil, which contain polyunsaturated omega-3 fats, to your diet is one of the easiest ways to help balance your hormones and lower inflammation. If you're vegan, omega-3 fats are also found in algae oil, chia seeds, flax, and walnuts.Get your cortisol under control.
Chronically elevated cortisol could be the hormone that's sabotaging your wellness — even if you're doing everything else right. Even naturally thin people have to worry about cortisol. Getting cortisol under control with sleep, meditation, and yoga can give you great results.Avoid all-day caffeine.
Excessive caffeine will slow down your thyroid and raise your cortisol. Plus, it aggravates acid reflux and gut disorders. That doesn’t mean you can't have a cup of coffee or tea. Depending on your genetic makeup, you may metabolize caffeine better than others.
But when you're aggressively trying to fix your hormones, gut, and inflammation levels, make an effort to reduce or stop your caffeine intake. Also, avoid any intake after noon, when it can interfere with your circadian rhythm.Take vitamin D.
Vitamin D is actually a hormone, and it plays a significant role in gut health. Our teeth, salivary glands, esophagus, and stomach actually have vitamin D receptors. Low vitamin D levels are linked to slow stomach emptying and bile production, inciting inflammation, and triggering hormone disruption.
Vitamin-D deficiency is ridiculously common. Although you can get vitamin D from sun exposure, it's often not enough. Though some foods like oily fish contain vitamin D, I recommend supplementing with at least 5,000 IU a day.
Even if you’re not struggling with a hormonal imbalance, consider how deeply your microbiome impacts your overall health ...
Adaptogenic herbs — especially maca, rhodiola, and ashwagandha — help the body adapt to stress. Adaptogens improve the entire body's resistance to stress (not just a particular organ or system) and create balance and harmony in the body, reducing inflammation and balancing hormones.
Maca is high in minerals and fatty acids, so it’s especially famed for hormone harmony. Many women notice less PMS, increased fertility, and improved skin, while men notice increased sperm production and libido and better sleep. If you’re not sure how to take it, it does taste great in smoothies, so that’s probably one of the easiest ways. That’s the way I have mine anyway.
Ashwagandha and rhodiola improve thyroid and adrenal function, balancing your system and giving you increased energy.Look out for endocrine disrupters in your environment.
Not only do endocrine disruptors or hormone disruptors affect your hormones, they also have adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects.
Hormone disrupters are everywhere, unfortunately. There’s still much to learn about chemical endocrine disrupters. But what you can do is educate yourself about the most harmful ones.
At the very least, avoid parabens, phthalates, and bisphenol-A (BPA). Common offenders include plastics, air fresheners, dishwashing soap, laundry detergent, cleansers, cosmetics, deodorants, toothpaste, shaving gel, and lotions. As I’m always reminding everyone, check the labels on products.Ditch long cardio sessions for short interval training.
I used to love my long, slow cardio sessions, so this one was hard for me — but it works! Long cardio sessions can actually lower your thyroid function and increase cortisol and inflammation. But interval training increases your human growth hormone and slows down aging, which is always a great benefit!
Try a cardio routine in which you sprint, spiking your heart rate. Search online for an HIIT workout, or the Sprint 8 workout. It's quick and exhausting, but it will get you results!
Even if you’re not struggling with a hormonal imbalance, considering how deeply your microbiome impacts your overall health, it’s a good idea to start incorporating some of these daily practices into your routine, anyway. Prevention is better than cure!