Hormone Imbalance

Everything you should know about hormone imbalance

Have you noticed some unexpected changes in your body composition and the way you are? More irritable, more anxious and simply feeling and acting not like you? On the top of that unexplained weight gain, bloating and unbearable PMS….

There is nothing wrong with you but it could be a sign of a hormone imbalance!

In this article:

Hormone Imbalance: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many women experience hormone imbalance throughout their lives, which can lead to a range of symptoms. The good news is that most conditions and symptoms are treatable and you can fix your hormone imbalance naturally. Below you will find brief summary of everything you should know about hormones and how to improve it with the right diet and lifestyle changes including stress management.

Personalised Hormone Balancing Solutions at FLOWell Nutrition

If you are looking for an effective solution to address your hormone imbalance symptoms – personalised protocol is the best way to go. Especially if you already tried things and they didn’t work or didn’t bring desired results. Personalised protocol goes one layer deeper comparing to overall hormone balancing recommendation. It removes doubt of what is right or wrong (which I’m sure can be confusing when you ask google for advice or search in facebook groups or other sources of information). You are unique as an individual so there is no one-size-fits-all if it comes to fixing your hormone imbalance permanently.

To successfully balance your hormones you need to address few aspect of your health that are closely linked with maintaining hormonal balance. 

  • Replenishing nutrient deficiencies
  • Improving gut health 
  • Optimising your liver function
  • Supporting your adrenals

That means appropriate nutrition plan that takes into account everything mentioned above plus how you are going to implement it in your daily routine . Meal composition and meal timing, the right amounts of particular food groups and whatever can’t be provided via diet, the appropriate supplements in a right form and dosage. Personalised plan provide clear guidance with step by step what to do to address everything your body needs to solve your hormone imbalance and get rid of your symptoms.

Healthy hormones are essential for your health

Firstly, let’s explain briefly importance of hormones for women’s health. Hormones to start with, are your chemical messengers that instruct your body how to regulate various important processes such as metabolism, sleep, mood and reproduction.

The key hormones are:

  • Oestrogen: It regulates menstrual cycle, reproductive system, bone health and cognitive function.
  • Progesterone: Maintains pregnancy and regulates menstrual cycle, Progesterone is also you “feel good” hormone as it has calming, mood-enhancing and anti-depressant effect.
  • Testosterone: Maintains bone health, muscle mass, and sex drive.

With hormones it’s always about ratios, not the levels only. Another important point to know is that hormone levels may fluctuate naturally with aging and menstrual cycle. What is important here is your liver and gut. Both play huge role if it comes to maintaining that hormonal balance. Liver is your master organ in terms of hormone production, conversion and getting rid of excess hormones (especially important for oestrogen metabolism). If for some reason your hormones get out of balance, it can have significant effects on your health and wellbeing

There are several hormone imbalances that can occur in women, and the symptoms can vary depending on the specific hormone and its levels. Here are six common hormonal imbalances:

  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): This is a hormonal disorder that can cause irregular periods, weight gain, acne, excess facial and body hair, and infertility. PCOS is very often related to abnormal levels of insulin. Interestingly, elevated insulin can be both diet or/and stress driven. 

  • Thyroid Hormone Imbalance: The thyroid gland produces hormones that regulate metabolism, so an imbalance can cause weight changes, fatigue, mood swings, and difficulty regulating body temperature. Click here to read more about thyroid related symptoms

  • Oestrogen Dominance: When there is too much oestrogen and not enough progesterone in the body, it can lead to irregular periods, bloating, breast tenderness, and mood changes. You may be surprised but oestrogen dominance is quite common in menopause. Both oestrogen and progesterone levels drop during menopause however progesterone levels drop faster leading to oestrogen dominance. 

  • Adrenal Imbalance: The adrenal glands produce hormones that regulate stress, so an imbalance can cause fatigue, anxiety, weight gain, and insomnia.

  • Insulin Resistance: This occurs when the body is unable to use insulin properly, leading to high blood sugar levels and an increased risk of developing diabetes. Symptoms can include weight gain, fatigue, and cravings for sugary foods. Interesting thing that insulin resistance can be cause not only by excess carbohydrates and sugar but also by excess stress. 

  • DHEA deficiency or excess . Having optimal levels of DHEA is crucial for maintaining hormonal balance and a sense of mental clarity. Inadequate levels of DHEA may manifest as low libido, heightened exhaustion, salt cravings and weakened immune system. 

Other signs and symptoms of female hormone imbalance:

  • Belly fat
  • Painful periods and blood clots during your period 
  • Acne, skin breakouts and skin tags
  • Excess hair on the face (hirstuism)
  • Hair loss, thinning hair or fine, brittle hair
  • Fatigue, especially low energy in the morning
  • Muscle weakness, muscle aches and stiffness
  • Pain, stiffness, or swelling in your joints
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Excess sweating including night sweats
  • Constipation or and irregular bowel movements
  • Frequent urination despite not drinking much
  • Increased thirst and excess hunger
  • Decreased sex drive and vaginal dryness
  • Mood swings, low mood and depression
  • Headaches and difficulty in concentrating
  • Feeling stressed easily
  • Anxiety, nervousness or irritability
  • Blurred vision
  • Infertility
  • Dry skin
  • Puffy face
causes of hormone imbalance birth control pill

What causes hormone imbalance in females?

There are several factors that can cause hormone imbalances in women, however the number one female hormone disruptor is chronic stress. Apart from that other common causes of hormone imbalance are:

  • birth control plls
  • poor diet , extreme dieting and eating disorders
  • prolonged fasting and keto or low carb diets for prolonged period of time
  • excess alcohol, 
  • lack of sleep
  • certain medications and hormonal replacement therapy (synthetic oestrogen)

Additionally, menopause, pregnancy, under active thyroid and poor liver health increase risk of experiencing various symptoms related with hormone imbalance. It’s important to note symptoms you may be experiencing is usually not related to a single factor but, quite often it’s a combination of few of them

Furthermore, overall toxic load and excess inflammation is pretty big contributor to the hormonal rollercoaster.  Toxins add additional burden for your liver and excess inflammation which is quite often caused by excess toxins among others) impair function of your other organs that are important in maintaining hormonal balance.

female hormone imbalance causes
female hormone imbalance stress

How chronic stress disrupts hormonal balance?

When the body is under stress, it releases hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine. These hormones trigger the “fight or flight” response, which can help the body deal with short-term stressors. However, if the stress is chronic, these hormones can remain elevated, which can have negative effects on the body.

Chronic stress overworks your adrenals and increases your cortisol levels. 

Elevated cortisol disrupts your hormonal balance in few ways:

  • it raises your blood sugar that can lead to PCOS and insulin and leptin resistance.
  • it coverts your thyroid free T3 hormones back to T4 leading to hypothyroidism
  • it “steals” your progesterone levels leading to oestrogen dominance. Click here to learn more about importance of progesterone in women’s health. 
  • it disrupts your gut microbiome leading to various digestive issues like constipation, bloating, acid reflux. With poor gut microbiome your nutrient absorption is impaired and also the risk of gut infections increases
how stress disrupts hormone imbalance

What is best test to check for hormone imbalance?

There are three ways to test your hormone level: either from blood, urine or saliva. I personally prefer urine test for female hormones as it’s are more accurate and my favourite is DUTCH Plus test as it not only shows your hormone levels but also provides details how hormones are metabolised. Moreover, The DUTCH Cycle Mapping™ maps the progesterone and oestrogen pattern throughout the menstrual cycle. It provides the full picture of your cycle and help you to identify when and what goes wrong with your hormones. Additionally DUTCH test include cortisol (stress hormone) which I mentioned earlier is one of the major hormone balance disruptors. It shows your cortisol awakening response (CAR) and cortisol pattern – important in assessing your adrenal health and related imbalances.

How to balance your female hormones naturally?

Fixing your hormone imbalance can be a bit of a journey, but don’t worry – it’s totally doable! It might take a few months (around three menstrual cycles) to really see the positive effects, but trust me, it’s worth it. While there’s no one-size-fits-all quick fix, there are some things you can do to improve your hormone health.  Appropriate diet, exercise, stress management, mindset, and emotional well-being are the key areas you need to optimise. The most important is to remember, to be kind to yourself and take it one step at a time. Below I’m going to share with you essential steps necessary for regaining hormonal balance and improving your health

stress management for hormonal imbalance

STEP 1. Reduce stress to balance your hormones

Stress can really mess with our hormones, especially our progesterone levels. You can eat clean and follow the healthiest diet you can imagine but without reducing stress you will feel like your health journey is never ending battle. Stress can throw your hormones out of balance no matter how perfect is your diet.

What is the best way to reduce stress?

The thing is that we cannot always control the things that cause us stress. However we can learn to manage stress by changing how we think about it. We have the ultimate power to reduce stress by altering our perspective. By shifting our mindset around stress, we can change the way our body responds to it. Sometimes we spend lots of our energy on avoiding situations that we worry about or are stressing about. However it’s not about avoiding life situation as there always will be something or someone that will cause emotional distress. It’s about how are you going to react those situation. Nervous system regulation and building your stress resilience is the best you can do for your overall health and staying zen no matter what:)

how to balance female hormones naturally

Apart from that there other helpful techniques and practices to reduce stress:

  • Learning to say “no”
  • Journaling and expressing your emotions 
  • Spending more time outdoors in nature
  • Grounding – walking barefoot on the ground for at least 15min a day
  • Regular moderate exercise
  • Breathing exercises
  • Yoga and meditation

STEP 2.  Diet and key nutrients for hormonal balance

A nutrient dense and balanced diet can certainly help you to balance you hormones naturally. Below there are some general tips:

  • Include healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish, nuts and seeds, and avocado, as well as monounsaturated fats, found in olive oil and nuts. Don’t be scared of fats – your body need FAT to make hormones.  Avoid vegetable oils like sunflower oil, rapeseed oil or canola oil. Here you can read more about what are best and worse oils to use for cooking and here about what is the safest fish to eat

  • Eat enough protein: Eating enough protein can help regulate blood sugar and promote feelings of fullness. Choose organic meats over meat replacements or “supermarket” chicken full of hormones and antibiotics. Organic meats are great source of key nutrients like B vitamins, zinc and iron which are necessary for hormonal balance. 

  • Reduce dairy consumption, especially cow’s milk products.

  • Be mindful of caffeine and alcohol: Limit caffeine and alcohol consumption, as they can disrupt hormonal balance and contribute to dehydration. Excess caffeine ncreases cortisol and alcohol depletes your from b vitamins and magnesium.
improve gut health for hormonal balance

STEP 3.  Optimise your gut health for hormonal balance

A healthy gut microbiome can improve the metabolism of hormones, including estrogen and testosterone. A healthy gut microbiome can also help to reduce inflammation in the body, which is linked to hormonal imbalances. Additionally, the gut microbiome produces a variety of hormones and neurotransmitters that can influence mood, appetite, and other bodily functions. These hormones and neurotransmitters include serotonin, dopamine, and GABA, which are important for mood regulation and stress management.

Below are key things you can do to improve your gut health:

  • Include more fermented foods which is source of your probiotics – your beneficial bakteria

  • Incorporate foods that are high in fiber as that helps regulate oestrogen levels: flaxseeds, chia seeds, and vegetables

  • Eliminate sweeteners and sugar as they disrupt your gut microbiome. 

  • Make sure you drink enough and stay hydrated – add pinch of himalayan salt to your water as it improves hydration. You need optimal hydration for regular bowel movement and excess hormones clearance

improve liver detox for hormonal balance

STEP 4.  Liver support: hormone detoxification

The liver is your master organ if t comes to hormonal balance. It helps to metabolize and eliminate excess hormones from the body. Hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, are processed and broken down by the liver before they are eliminated from the body through the kidneys or the digestive tract. Moreover, liver is also where thyroid hormone conversion T4 to T3 happens. With suboptimal liver function your thyroid may slow down leading to hormonal imbalances.

How to improve liver detox and hormonal balance

  • Consume variety of dark fruits like blueberries, blackberries or pomegranate – they are great source of antioxidant that protect your liver.

  • Avoid toxins: Environmental toxins, such as chemicals found in plastics, can mimic hormones in the body and disrupt normal hormone function. Avoid exposure to these toxins by using natural products, eating organic foods, and drinking filtered water.

You can read here more about liver detox and how to improve phase 1 and phase to of liver detox.

STEP 5. Consider additional support for hormonal balance

  • Reset your circadian rythym – adequate sleep is important for hormone regulation. Aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night, best to go to bed before 11am as that will also improve your adrenals which is linked with hormonal health.
  • Moderate low impact exercise – Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise daily. That will help reduce stress and improve overall metabolism. Choosing the right exercise routine is very important if you want to stay active and fix your hormone imbalance. Excess or too intense workouts can have opposite effect and disrupt your hormones even more
  • Consider appropriate herbs & supplements for hormonal balance depending on your particular issue.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Yes certainly! Especially dark fruits like blueberries or blackberries are great source of antioxidants that protect your liver from oxidative damage. Liver is your master organ that takes care of maintaining hormonal balance. You can read more here about how to improve liver detox phase 1 and phase 2. Fruits contain sugar but if your overall diet is clean and healthy you don't have to be worried about sugar content in fruits.

Coffee can be good and bad at the same time. In general it's a great source of antioxidants and can protect you from non-alcoholic fatty liver which is linked with insulin resistance and PCOS. However, if you are stressed on daily basis and experience overall fatigue, coffee may spike your sugar and make PCOS worse.

It can be a great support to balance your hormones, however usually it's not enough. The idea of seed cycling is to provide you key nutrients like zinc or vitamin E depending on your phase of the menstrual cycle. Seed cycling is great to maintain your hormonal balance but to balance your hormones and get rid of various symptoms you are experiencing you need more systemic approach that address your nutrient levels, gut and liver health.

Yes! Most symptoms women experience like painful periods, tender breast, anxiety, water retention and bloating is because of imbalanced hormones. Oestrogen dominance leads to excess production of inflammatory cytokines causing you range of those symptoms. You can here more about importance of progesterone as a key hormone in terms of maintaining hormonal balance.

Yes! Sugar cravings are caused quite often by imbalance of insulin, leptin, oestrogen and progesterone. What disrupts all those hormones is cortisol - you stress hormone. That's why when you feel stressed, tired or upset you are more likely to eat more or crave sugar. If your body is in a "survival mode" cause by stress it will crave the fastest source of energy which is sugar.

There is no one size fits all but there are certain vitamins that help your body regulate your hormones: vitamin D, vitamin B6, vitamin B12 are the most important ones. Apart from that omega 3, magnesium and zinc. However with zinc be careful with supplementation as it can deplete your from copper and iron if supplemented in excess.

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