Whether you’re in the throes of menopause, are in the waning stages of that life change, or have waved goodbye forever to the hot flashes and night sweats, knowing how to balance hormones naturally is essential.
What can happen when our hormones are out of balance? A lot, really.
As we age, hormone production slows. And that’s why we experience menopause symptoms. Our life choices, our diet, stress, and our activities can also have a significant impact on our hormones, which in turn affect how we feel….our ‘hormonal health’ if you will.
When our hormones are out of whack it can affect our mental, physical, and emotional health.
If the hormone levels are off in your body, you might feel any of these:
- brain fog
- weight gain
- hair loss/thinning
- digestive issues
- anxiety or depression
- sleep issues
- and more…
Of course, you’d want to talk with your healthcare professional about any symptoms like these that are ongoing, because there could be other health issues at work.
In general, these lifestyle adjustments can help you keep balance hormones naturally. You’ll probably find that many of the suggestions and tips overlap into other areas of leading a healthy lifestyle.
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How to Balance Hormones Naturally
1 | What We Eat
Consuming 20 to 30 grams of protein per meal is recommended to optimize hormone health.
How do we accomplish this goal? I am deferring to the experts at eatthis.com for some suggestions. It’s really not difficult to do…take a look at these meals that include eat least 20 grams of protein:
- BREAKFAST: 3 large eggs with 1/4 of shredded American cheese gives you about 23 grams of protein. Greek yogurt with 2% fat will give you about 20 grams of protein in a serving. Add some fresh fruit and nuts for taste and texture. If you’re preparing oatmeal, pancakes, or waffles, add a scoop of protein powder to the mix and you’ll gain 18 to 35 grams of protein.
- SNACK: 2 hard-boiled eggs, 1 slice of Ezekiel bread (my favorite bread other than my own) with 1 tablespoon of natural peanut butter, and 1 mini Babybel cheddar cheese will give you 23 grams of protein. Add some fresh fruit and this will make a nice meal, too, at any time!
- LUNCH: How about an open-faced Tuna Melt? Use 2 ounces of tuna (no mayo), 2 tomato slices on a slice of toasted Ezekiel bread and zap it for about 20 seconds in the microwave to melt the cheese. Add some fruit and/or a side salad for more vitamins and fiber. Grab that Ezekiel bread (see the pattern here?), 2 slices, and put fresh strawberry slices on it. Add 2 tablespoons of nut butter sprinkled with chia, and guess what? You’ve got a healthy PB&J with about 20 grams of protein and 9 grams of fiber. Create a fajita-inspired lettuce wrap for a healthy dose of protein and good fat. Spoon 2 ounces of grilled chicken, 2 ounces of black beans, slices of peppers and onions, and a tablespon of salsa onto 1 or 2 large romaine slices.
- DINNER: Who doesn’t love a tasty quesadilla? Here’s a protein-rich version. Warm up a 6-inch Ezekiel or whole grain tortilla in a skillet. Add 1 ounce of white cheddar, 3 tablespoons of cannellini beans, and 1/2 cup shredded kale. Fold in half and brown on each side, 1 to 2 minutes each. For the dipping sauce, combine 4 Tbl of plain Greek yogurt and 2 Tbl of low-sugar BBQ sauce. Nice! A nice and simple dinner that hits the protein goal includes 3 ounces of chicken, a whole grain like quinoa or brown rice, and of course some veggies.
Reduce sugar and carb intake
Sugar keeps insulin elevated and knocks other hormones out of balance. By eliminating sugar from your diet, your hormones may remain at appropriate levels, including insulin.
Eliminate sugary beverages
Liquid sugars may be the ‘worst of the worst’ when it comes to consuming sugar.
Not only does is mean consuming empty calories, you’re more likely to consume w-a-y-y-y more sugar than with other types of foods because your body doesn’t trigger fullness signals.
If you want to balance hormones naturally, eliminate sugar-sweetened beverages from your diet and it will be one of the best things you can do!
Eat healthy fats
Yes, some fats are healthy and we should make them a part of our daily eating plan. These ‘good guy’ fats help maintain a balance of hormones involved in regulating our metabolism, our appetite, and feeling full.
Examples of healthy fats include avocados, olive and coconut oil, chia and flax seeds, walnuts, and fish.
Drink green tea
Green tea contains antioxidants and compounds that can help boost our metabolic health.
2 | What We Do
Exercise, again, is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle as well as a way to help balance hormones naturally. In fact, nearly every hormone is impacted in a positive way, including insulin levels.
Another benefit of exercise is the boosting of our growth hormone HGH (it’s our ‘fountain of youth’ hormone) to help keep us energetic and leaner.
If any type of vigorous exercise is difficult for you, walk regularly if that is something you are able to do. Just the act of walking can help boost the muscle-maintaining hormones that decline with age.
As women over 50, regular exercise, both aerobic and strength training, appears on the ‘must-do’ list over and over again. It’s essential, friend!
3 | How We Cope
The two major hormones affected by stress are adrenaline and cortisol. Cortisol helps your body cope with stress over periods of time, and it’s called “the stress hormone”.
When you’re suddenly faced with a difficult or potentially threatening situation, it’s adrenaline that kicks in…the “fight or flight” reaction…to the situation.
Both can be triggered by a busy lifestyle that precludes giving ourselves the care we need.
As a result, our cortisol level can remain too high and we’ll overeat, which certainly doesn’t help the scale or the belly fat. And, it can also increase if we eat too little (undereating), so a moderate approach to a healthy diet really is a sensible choice!
An elevated adrenaline level can cause health issues like anxiety, rapid heart rate and high blood pressure.
Balance the stress levels
What can you do to balance these (and other) hormones naturally?
Activities such as yoga, listening to music, a great massage, or meditation can all help relieve stress and bring our hormones, particularly cortisol, back to a healthy level.
4 | When We Rest
Consistent, quality sleep
Poor sleeping patterns can contribute to a number of problems, including hormonal imbalances.
Avoid too much blue light
When we expose our bodies to blue light that comes from cell phones or computer screens, it responds as if it were daylight and adjusts our hormones accordingly.
A study found that exposure to any bright artificial light at night may confuse the body, and it then suppresses the hormone melatonin.
Keeping our body’s natural circadian rhythm in place is the goal, so minimize the blue light at night.
5 | What We Bring Into, and Remove from, Our Life
Reduce the plastic
One of the reasons to quit using plastic is the potential effect on your hormones.
Almost every type of plastic releases chemicals that mimic estrogen in your body. So if you’re exposed to a continuous, low level exposure to chemicals like these, it could lead to hormone imbalance.
Consider eliminating the plastic bottles that you drink out of, and switch to:
- a glass (what a novel idea)
- stainless steel
- reusable bottles
- canned water
- boxed water (I drink boxed wine, so why not water, too?)
I’m starting to make the switch from plastic food storage containers to glass food storage that is BPA-free, like these examples:
Remove the tobacco
Well, aside from the obvious fact that it will most likely kill you…and cause your face to have nasty wrinkles…tobacco smoke may disrupt levels of several hormones.
A study showed that tobacco smoke may alter thyroid hormone levels, stimulate pituitary hormones, and other possible stress-related issues.
It is so much better, and well worth the effort it takes, to eliminate smoking from your life!
Choose non-toxic products & foods
Toxins are everywhere, from the air we breathe to the food we eat, to the products that go on our bodies, and many are considered endocrine or hormone disruptors.
Our liver is in charge of detoxing the body from these substances, as well as metabolizing hormones. When it’s too busy dealing with the toxins it forgets about the hormones, and our hormone levels are affected.
Be aware that the beauty and skin product you use can be contributing to hormone issues. How does this happen?
Many personal care products contain hormone-disrupting ingredients like phthalates and parabens. When absorbed into your skin they can enter your bloodstream and from there, affect your hormone levels. That’s why I choose to use mature skincare products that are actually helpful to my skin and won’t adversely affect the rest of me. 🙂
What can we do to limit toxins in our life?
- buy organic foods when possible
- wash fruits and veggies well
- avoid drinking from plastic bottles
- use toxic-free skin and beauty care products
- use low toxin cleaning supplies and products
- eat plenty of greens, they are natural detoxifiers
Taking a natural approach to keeping our hormones in balance as we age includes considering supplements, particularly if we’re experiencing specific symptoms.
Consult with your health care professional as a first step, particularly if you are taking any medication.
Here are some suggestions for vitamin and herbal supplements from our friends at the Women in Balance Institute, for women over 40:
- Vitamin E, bioflavonoids and Vitamin C: Shown to have some effectiveness in treating hot flashes
- Melatonin, L-tryptophan and 5-hydroxytryptophan: The most effective nutrients for treating insomnia
- Vitamins B6, folic acid, B12 and SAMe: Can increase serotonin levels and help with mild depression
- GABA supplements: Can be effective for mild to moderate anxiety
- Glucosamine sulfate, borage oil, fish oils and chondroitin sulfate: Shown good results for joint pains and osteoarthritis
- Niacin: Well studied to treat elevated cholesterol and triglycerides
- Calcium and Vitamin D: Help to maintain bone health and can be an important part of an osteoporosis prevention strategy
- Black cohosh, red clover, kava, soy, and ginseng: Have been studied to treat menopause symptoms
- Valerian: Studied for treatment of insomnia
- St. Johns Wort: Studied for treatment of mild depression
- Kava: Studied for treatment of anxiety
- Rhodiola: Studied for treatment of memory loss and fatigue
- Ginseng: Studied for treatment of fatigue
Essential oils are another method of keeping our hormones in balance. Here are some suggestions from our friends at marcellpick.com
- Clary Sage – may improve thyroid hormone levels and help balance estrogen in your body
- Frankincense – has been shown to reduce inflammation and decrease cortisol
- Lavender – has a beneficial effect on hormonal balance, pain relief, stomach trouble, headaches, and reducing feelings of depression and stress
- Peppermint – has been shown to have an impact on hormones that relate to mood
- Rose – balances testosterone levels in the body, and is also known as an aphrodisiac
- Rosemary – can remove excess estrogen from the body
- Thyme – can raise levels of progesterone
We have the power to influence our longevity, our overall health, our appearance, our stamina, and so much more, by the choices we make every single day.
Making wise decisions to help balance hormones naturally will spill over into these other areas of our life and only serve to help us live a longer and happier life.