While we know hormones can be responsible for certain diseases like PCOS, fibroids and endometriosis, not much is know about how these hormones become imbalanced. I know from first hand experience many doctors do not know or do not educate their patients on ways to help prevent or minimize the effects of hormone imbalance. Here are some of the most important tips I use in my practice and have seen clients implement for lasting health.
Get Your Vitamin D in Check!
I know I talk about Vitamin D all the time, but it is an important issue in this country that is not getting the attention it deserves. Most people, especially those at our latitude and further north are severely deficient in Vitamin D. Vitamin D is a nutrient that is used in all systems of your body, having sufficient levels helps support your immune system, mental health, bone growth and hormone health! Since vitamin D deficiency is linked to obesity, insulin resistance, inflammation and infertility, its role in hormone imbalance is no surprise. Here is some information from Dr. Tieraona Low Dog on dosing!
You are What You Eat!
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. —Hippocrates.
We all know the importance of eating a balanced diet, but with all the demands of our busy lives, eating well can be hard to do. Combine our busy schedules with processed foods, low in nutrition or foods that are just lacking in nutrition in general, deficiencies can happen easily. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help regulate blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity. Additionally, eating a low-glycemic diet can lower inflammation and promote hormone balance. Avoiding simple sugars and processed foods can also help keep blood sugar levels stable. Popular diets for hormone imbalance include the insulin resistance diet and the anti-inflammatory diet. Here are a few suggestions to help you get the most out of your diet.
Eat local and organic when possible
Minimize sugars and excessive fatty foods
Add herbs to all parts of your diet: infused waters, infusions, herbal salt mixes
Here’s a list of some cruciferous vegetables to include in your diet to promote liver health and release excess estrogen:
Broccoli and broccoli sprouts
Adequate Iodine and Selenium
While the addition of iodine to table salt curbed the iodine deficiency seen in the 1920’s, iodine deficiency is now on the rise again. This is due to more people reaching for sea salt, other salt options and eating more processed foods (which are not made with iodized salt) Iodine is a major player in thyroid health and supporting hormone health.
A lack of iodine can also affect how ovarian follicles are formed or how they mature leading to PCOS. When these follicles don’t mature, the ovaries can’t release eggs leading to missed menstruation that is usually seen with high testosterone levels.
Good supportive food sources of iodine are:
Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that plays a key role in the formation of reproductive tissue. Typical sources include grains, dairy and poultry products. These products will only have adequate iodine depending on where the grains were grown and if the feed of the animals contains iodine. With more of our food coming from overseas, it is hard to know the iodine content.
Low levels of selenium is associated with high androgen hormones in women with PCOS. (Dubey et al. Effect of Nutritional Supplementation on Oxidative Stress and Hormonal and Lipid Profiles in PCOS-Affected Females. Nutrients 2021;13:2938).
Good supportive food sources of selenium include seafood and seaweed.
Gut health to absorb your nutrients
Did you know that over the past 5 years studies have demonstrated that changes in the types and composition of gut bacteria are associated with PCOS. These studies have also shown that these gut bacteria changes are associated with PCOS, not obesity! While this is not great news for those with PCOS, it does give us information on how to support those with PCOS and gives those with PCOS relief in knowing potential weight gain is out of their control.
While the topic and study of gut health and its link to PCOS is still ongoing there are some findings on strains that could offer support findings on strains that can help.
*L. Casei, L. acidophilus, L. rhamnosus, L. bulgaricus, B. breve
B. longum, and Streptococcus thermophiles help to lower insulin levels
*Bifidobacterium sp., Lactobacillus sp., and selenium lowered
testosterone and hirsutism levels in women with PCOS
*Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus fermentum, and Lactobacillus gasseri improved inflammation.
Exercise is important for everyone, but if you are battling hormone imbalance that causes a rise in androgens (PCOS) that lead to insulin resistance and hormonal imbalance, physical activity is a must to help! Any exercise routine that results in more movement than you’ve been doing is a good place to start. Brisk walking around the neighborhood counts, especially if you’re a little nervous about going to a gym for the first time. Work your way up from there. It is recommended that women with hormone imbalance get 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week, that is 20 minutes a day. This exercise can help with regulating mood, regulating insulin, better sleep, improved heart disease outcomes and more! Workouts can include brisk walking, high-intensity interval training, strength training, and mind-body exercises. Start out slow if you have not worked out for a while and mix it up to keep it to keep it fun!
Skin Care and Cleaning Products
We have now looked 5 ways to support your body and hormones and there is still another important player in hormone health, skin care and cleaning products. Anything you put on, in or near your body can have a profound impact on your hormone health.
Some of the top offenders are:
Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS): The problem occurs when it’s combined with dioxane, it stays in the body for a long time as the liver can’t metabolize it properly—this increases the overall toxic load on the body.
Sodium Alcohol Ethoxylate Sulfate: This is a surfactant, a cleaning agent that makes water wetter and makes suds, sudsier. Sodium Alcohol Ethoxylate Sulfate has been shown to be a skin irritant, may cause respiratory problems, and have potential cancer links.
Linear Alkylbenzene Sulfonate (LAS): This is a common surfactant used in detergents worldwide and is of concern to the impact on the environment. The European Union Ecolabel program data shows this substance has high chronic toxicity to aquatic life.
Fragrance: This is a cover-up name for phthalates—which are a very well documented family of chemicals causing a number of hormone imbalances, including thyroid problems in both men and women as well as early puberty in girls. Phthalates have been dubbed an “obesogen,” as they affect genes that uptake fat and grow fat cells. They are also xenoestrogens (external estrogen-mimicking compounds) and have also been linked to endometriosis, reduced sperm concentration and motility in men, and abnormal reproductive system development in baby boys. Phthalates can also disrupt the immune system and cause skin irritation.
Bisphenol A: (BPA) – BPA is used in cookware coatings and food packaging. BPA has been associated with female and male infertility, early puberty, breast cancer, prostate cancer, polycystic ovary syndrome, and other endocrine disorders.
Organizations like Environmental Working Group (EWG), and Apps like Think Dirty or Yuka can help you find clean and safe products for you and your family. The bottom line is to reduce the synthetic compound load on your body. Reducing the number of products you use, making your own cleaners and using microfiber cloths are a great way to start!
Living with PCOS or any hormonal imbalance can be complicated and exhausting. Taking small steps may be needed to make lasting changes for your long term health. Finding a practitioner that can take the time needed to listen to your journey and support you will also help your transition to health more successfully. If you or a loved one is looking for support with PCOS or any other hormonal imbalance, diagnosed or suspected, sign up for a complementary Healthy Hormone Session to get more information about how I may be able to help!