An ancient adage from Chinese medicine says, “A doctor would rather treat 10 men than one woman.” In a way, this validates what women have always known—that we are indeed intricate creatures. At the heart of our complexity are hormones, their ebb and flow influencing all aspects of physical, emotional and mental well-being. When a woman’s hormones are in balance, she feels healthy, energized, and vital. She is also far less likely to experience symptoms during her menstrual cycle or as she negotiates the transition through menopause.
Unfortunately, all it takes is one alteration to this perfectly orchestrated process for hormone havoc to ensue, transforming a reasonable woman into a screaming banshee (sound familiar?). Our modern lifestyles do not help, either, and in fact have had a somewhat disastrous effect on hormonal balance. For example, stress, nutritional deficiencies, hormones in meat and poultry, estrogen-mimicking chemicals in our environment, and the widespread use of birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy (HRT) have contributed to some of the highest estrogen levels ever measured, according to researchers.
Why do hormones have such a profound impact on your health? Basically, these powerful chemical messengers—including the two main female sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone—stimulate, regulate, and/ or control all vital bodily functions. The delicate equilibrium of these master agents also influences every system in the body. Additionally, hormones affect certain neurotransmitters that determine mood and thinking processes. So, is it any wonder that hormonal balance is key for maintaining optimal wellness throughout your life?
Hormone Harmony: What Harms, What Heals
The most notorious hormone wreckers are sugar and sugar substitutes, refined carbohydrates, trans fats, caffeine, pesticide-laden foods, alcohol, dehydration, lack of sleep, stress, emotional upsets, chemicals in commercial personal care products, and lack of exercise. In addition to compromising your hormonal health, these saboteurs can also accelerate the aging process.
A hormone-harmonizing program includes organically grown whole foods (plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits, seeds, and nuts); healthful fats (pick from extra-virgin olive oil, fish oil, flaxseed oil, coconut oil and butter); filtered water; regular meals; seven to eight hours of sleep; relaxation; staying hydrated; and regular exercise.
Hormones also act as sensitive barometers underlying physiological symptoms. For instance, a toxic liver, overworked adrenal glands, or a yeast infection (Candida albicans) can quickly throw hormones out of whack.
3 Ways to Enhance Hormone Health Throughout Life
1. SUPPORT YOUR LIVER
The liver plays a major role in the proper metabolizing of hormones, especially estrogen. Liver-loving foods include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, beets, garlic, lemons, artichokes, and asparagus. Liver-loving herbs include milk thistle, dandelion root, and turmeric.
2. NOURISH YOUR ADRENAL GLANDS
The adrenals influence hormonal balance, immune health, digestion, blood sugar balance, blood pressure, inflammation control, and mineral balance. Your adrenals are nourished by vitamin C, vitamin B5 (best taken in a B-complex formula), cod liver oil, and magnesium. The adaptagenic herbs, such as ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Rhodiola rosea, and maca root (Lepidium meyenii), provide excellent adrenal support.
3. STRENGTHEN YOUR DIGESTIVE SYSTEM
A strong digestive system ensures that your body will readily absorb your food. Digestive-strengthening foods include yogurt, kefir, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar, sauerkraut, and miso. Digestive enzymes are also helpful.
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