Hormones out of whack? Try these tips to naturally realign yourself.
1. Eat more carrots
Too much oestrogen can cause hormonal disruptions in your body, which can lead to PMS, menopausal symptoms, mood swings and acne. Raw carrots contain an indigestible fibre that aids the body’s natural detoxification process by speeding up digestion. This prevents oestrogen from being reabsorbed in the intestine, which can happen if your colon is a little sluggish. This insoluble fibre also helps to remove excess oestrogen from the body by binding to it and allowing it to be safely excreted. In a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, women that ate 28g of fibre a day had greater faecal excretion of oestrogens and lower plasma concentrations of this hormone than those women that ate only 12g of fibre a day. Try incorporating carrots into your salads and soups or munching on them as a quick-fix snack.
2. Avoid toxins
Toxins found in pesticides, plastics and household chemicals can contain hormone-disrupting chemicals. One such chemical is BPA (Bisphenol A), which can be found in plastic bottles and containers, as well as the lining of tin cans. With data showing that BPA can interfere with women’s fertility and hormonal regulation, it’s best to go BPA-free – particularly if you are heating your container as the heating process has been shown to cause more BPA to leech out. BPA-free plastic containers and bottles are easily available, or look for glass or stainless steel options. BPA is also found in the thermal paper used to make shop receipts so give them a miss if you don’t need them.
3. Cut back on caffeine
‘Caffeine robs the body of important vitamins and minerals, and increases the stress hormone cortisol, which in turn depletes your adrenal glands, leading to oestrogen dominance and a hormonal imbalance,’ says Sally Lewis, author of 50 Things You Can Do Today To Increase Your Fertility (£6.99, Summersdale). In a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, women who reported drinking more than 300mg caffeine a day (around three cups of instant coffee) had a 27 per cent lower chance of conceiving during each cycle. Another study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition also suggests that the caffeine levels commonly found in a few cups of coffee could alter oestrogen levels.
4. Don’t overdo the exercise
While exercise can boost feel-good hormones like serotonin, intense or extended exercise can raise your cortisol levels. A study on men done at the University of North Carolina showed a relationship between elevated cortisol and decreased testosterone after endurance exercise. Keeping your workouts shorter may help prevent excessive cortisol release and improve your recovery time. You could also try opting for exercises such as yoga or Pilates. A study in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Physiology found yoga to be effective in reducing stress and maintaining hormonal balance.
5. Get enough sleep
Your body does a lot of its hormonal activity during sleep. If you skimp on your shut-eye you are at risk of throwing numerous hormonal mechanisms out of sync. In a study published in The Lancet, sleep debt was found to have a harmful impact on endocrine function, altering the production and action of hormones, increasing blood levels of cortisol and dampening the secretion of thyroid-stimulating hormones. In order to get a good night’s rest, reduce the amount of light in your room. Light inhibits melatonin secretion, which is key to a restful sleep. You can also try snacking on a few melatonin-rich cherries before bedtime.