Think of hormones as the unsung heroes within your body, orchestrating everything from your energy levels to your mood and even your waistline. Keeping these chemical messengers in harmony is crucial for your health and wellness, and might just be the key to feeling and looking your best.
The following habits and lifestyle choices are your pathway to not just hormonal balance, but also a profound sense of overall well-being. Get ready to enhance your mood, reduce stress, optimize digestion, and embrace a happier, healthier life.
1. Nourish Your Body with a Balanced Diet
The food you consume plays a significant role in hormone regulation, so a balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrients is essential.
- Prioritize whole foods like vibrant fruits, fresh vegetables, lean proteins, and heart-healthy fats.
- Embrace omega-3 rich foods like salmon and walnuts, as they can help reduce inflammation and support hormonal balance.
- Make sure to incorporate plenty of magnesium rich-foods (like leafy greens, dark chocolate, nuts and seeds, and avocado) which play a crucial role in hormone production.
- It can also be helpful to limit sugar and processed foods. Excessive sugar and processed foods can lead to insulin resistance and hormonal imbalances.
P.S. A high protein diet packs a punch by stabilizing blood sugar, improving insulin sensitivity, and reducing cravings!
2. Sip Coffee Mindfully
Don’t worry – I’m not here to tell you to completely cut out all coffee. That being said, it’s important to understand how caffeine impacts our hormones, and how we can consume coffee in a hormone-friendly way.
How to consume coffee in a hormone-friendly way:
- Allow your body to wake up naturally. Cortisol levels rise to their peak in the morning. When you allow your body to wake up naturally, before having coffee, you avoid overloading your body with added stimulants and raising your cortisol even further.
- Start with water. Rather than reaching for coffee first thing, start your morning with a big cup of lemon water or decaf-tea. Aim to drink around 2L of water each day, and drink at least one glass of water before your first cup of coffee.
- Don’t overdo it. Drinking 1-2 cups rather than 3-4 will help reduce your stress response and blood sugar imbalances.
- Enjoy your coffee with (or after) a nourishing meal. Coffee is no substitute for breakfast. Caffeine on an empty stomach raises cortisol, stresses the adrenals, and is hugely taxing for your hormones. Make sure to eat a balanced meal with a protein, fat, and carb to help balance your hormones and blood sugar.
- Switch to organic coffee to avoid toxic herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers.
- Avoid added sugar.
- Swap it out. Try cacao, matcha, chai, a turmeric latte, dandelion, chicory, mushroom, or herbal coffee instead.
A note on decaf coffee: If you are going to drink decaf, make sure it’s from a brand that uses a non-chemical based method of decaffeination.
3. Manage Stress
Chronic stress can disrupt hormone levels and lead to a range of health issues. Practice stress-reduction techniques like meditation, deep breathing, yoga, or even a simple walk in nature. These activities can help lower cortisol, the stress hormone, and promote hormonal harmony.
4. Get Quality Sleep
Quality sleep is crucial for hormone health. Aim for 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. During deep sleep, your body repairs tissues and balances hormones like growth hormone and insulin. Establishing a consistent sleep schedule and creating a comfortable sleep environment can improve the quality of your rest.
P.S. Make sure to block blue light at night, as blue light (from overhead lights and electronic devices) can throw off your body’s biological clock and increase cortisol.
5. Stay Hydrated
Proper hydration is often overlooked but is essential for hormone balance. Water supports digestion, circulation, and the elimination of toxins. Dehydration can stress the body and affect hormone production, so make it a habit to drink enough water throughout the day.
P.S. A pinch of sea salt or trace minerals enhances electrolyte balance, while herbal teas like chamomile, peppermint, and ginger nurture hormonal equilibrium while keeping you refreshed.
6. Move Your Body
Physical activity is a powerful ally in the pursuit of hormonal health. Regular exercise can help regulate insulin, reduce inflammation, and boost mood-enhancing hormones like endorphins.
To reap the hormone-balancing benefits of exercise, it's essential to establish a well-rounded fitness routine. Make sure to incorporate aerobic activity, strength training, flexibility, and mobility exercises. You can also tailor your exercise routine to your menstrual cycle. During your follicular phase, when energy levels are higher, focus on more intense workouts. In the luteal phase, opt for gentler exercises to alleviate PMS symptoms and stress.
Make sure to pay attention to how your body responds to exercise throughout your cycle. If you're experiencing extreme fatigue, pain, or discomfort, it's okay to modify your workouts or take a rest day. Overtraining can negatively impact hormonal balance.
P.S. Walking is one of the best exercises for hormonal balance, and can impact your daily calorie expenditure even more than your strength or cardio workout. Aim for 8k steps a day if possible. If you are not even close to that, try to add 1-2k steps weekly to your current average step count.
7. Prioritize Gut Health
Your gut and hormones are closely connected. To promote gut health, include plenty of fiber-rich foods (fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes) and probiotics (yogurt, kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut) in your diet.
And don't forget the prebiotics – garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, and bananas – these non-digestible fibers feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut and support a flourishing microbiome.
8. Minimize Exposure to Environmental Toxins
If you want to live a truly healthy life, you cannot ignore the health of your home.
Toxins in the environment, such as endocrine-disrupting chemicals found in some plastics and household products, can interfere with hormone function. Reduce your exposure by choosing natural, chemical-free alternatives whenever possible and being mindful of the products you use.
P.S. Your home should be a safe, nurturing place that supports your overall health and wellbeing. For more tips on reducing toxic exposure in your home, read our blog: “Top 10 Ways to Reduce Toxins and Chemicals in Your Home”.
9. Expose Your Eyes to Sunlight
Sunlight exposure is crucial for our overall health and well-being, primarily due to its impact on our circadian rhythm, commonly referred to as our internal body clock. Sunlight exposure early in the morning and in the evening can help the body regulate the sleep-wake cycle, supports Vitamin D synthesis, and regulates hormone production.
P.S. If spending time outdoors isn't possible, consider using light therapy lamps or bulbs that mimic natural daylight. These can be especially beneficial during the winter months when sunlight exposure may be limited.
10. Consider Cycle Syncing
As women, it’s amazing how little we are taught about our menstrual cycles, especially considering the massive impact they have on all dimensions of our wellbeing.
Cycle syncing is an intriguing approach to optimizing hormone health that aligns lifestyle habits and activities with the natural hormonal fluctuations that occur throughout a woman's menstrual cycle. It's based on the idea that tailoring your diet, exercise routine, and self-care practices to your menstrual cycle can help balance hormones, manage symptoms, and promote overall well-being.
For more information on cycle syncing, read our blog: “Cycle Syncing: A Woman's Guide to Health & Hormones”.
Taking care of your hormone health is essential for overall well-being and vitality. By adopting these ten habits, you can transform your hormone health and enjoy a happier, healthier life. But remember - it’s not a one-size-fits-all journey. Be patient with yourself, seek professional advice when needed, and know that small changes in your daily routine can have a big impact on your hormonal balance. Start incorporating these habits today. Your body will thank you for it!