It’s so easy to overlook the balance of your hormones. Our major endocrine glands that create our hormones include our brain, parathyroid adrenal, pancreas, gastrointestinal tract, and reproductive glands. It also controls many aspects of our overall health including our energy levels, weight, and even our mood.
In America alone, 10 up to 20 percent of women are affected by PCOS or polycystic ovary syndrome, making it one of the most common hormonal disorders among women. For women who are in the childbearing age, it can be a big contributor to infertility. Insulin resistance is also associated with PCOS because it is believed that high insulin levels can increase androgen production and vice versa. Excess male hormones or androgen can throw off regular female body functions. This includes our menstrual cycle.
If you are diagnosed with PCOS, you are probably experiencing 2 out of three of these symptoms:
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- High levels of androgen which results in excess facial hair and acne.
- Ovarian cysts on ultrasound
Having PCOS can be a debilitating thing. It can affect your dreams of having a family, physical appearance, daily routine, and overall health. However, having PCOS can be naturally managed (but not cured) through certain medicine and lifestyle change.
The word phytoestrogen comes from the Greek word “phyto” meaning plant, and “estrogen”, the hormone that causes fertility in all female mammals. Phytoestrogen cannot be created by the human endocrine system and can only be ingested. Plant-based estrogens are gained through eating phytoestrogen-classified plants. Soy is the most common and it’s in a lot of gluten. All legumes such as lentils, flaxseeds, and sesame seeds are also considered phytoestrogens.
Women who have PCOS have high testosterone levels and the logic of increasing phytoestrogen consumption would help alleviate the symptoms. However, keep in mind that soy is often genetically modified and processed, which can be potentially triggering hormonal imbalances.
Here are some of the food that are rich in phytoestrogens:
- Wheat germ
Manage your blood sugar
Insulin resistance is directly related to hormonal problems, so it’s very important to find ways of managing it. High blood sugar can contribute to diabetes, heart disease, chronic metabolic diseases such as increased fat storage in the abdomen, and can also cause poor energy.
The best way to manage your blood sugar is to avoid refined sugar and refined carbohydrates. Food such as baked goods, white bread, and pasta usually have a high glycaemic index which basically means that it will raise your blood sugar very quickly. Sodas and other sweet drinks are also filled with artificial sweeteners and preservatives that can lead to hormonal imbalance and a blood sugar spike. Caffeine and nicotine are also known to cause a blood sugar surge because of a sudden surge of adrenaline.
Here are some of the foods that can help control blood sugar:
- Raw, cooked or roasted vegetables: Mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, brussels sprouts, zucchini.
- Low-fat dressings like hummus, guacamole, salsa, roasted seasonings such as rosemary, garlic or cayenne pepper.
- Greens: kale, spinach, and chard.
- Hydrate: water is always good, but you can infuse fruits and vegetables in your water. Lemon and cucumber is always a good option. They’re low-carb and can even make you feel full so you don’t crave other foods.
Get enough sleep
We all know how sleeping gives our body the time to regenerate our cells and maximize our hormone production. When we are deprived of sleep, our hormones are thrown out of balance and it can cause us to eat more and feel hungrier which can result in weight gain and an increase in blood sugar. Not getting enough sleep can cause elevated cortisol secretion in our adrenal glands which can contribute to excess body fat, suppressed immune systems and poor cognitive function.
Here are a few tips on how you can fall asleep faster at night:
- Try to sleep in a dark room with no light. Most of the time, blocking out all sources of light can send a signal to your brain to enter sleep mode.
- Start dimming the lights in your bedroom at least an hour before bedtime. It signals your brain that it’s time to wind down.
- Avoid using any electronic devices or anything that requires a lot of thinking for at least an hour before going to bed. These activities can keep your brain wired. Try reading a book instead!
- Avoid eating, drinking and working out at least 2 hours before bedtime.
- You may also improve your quality of sleep by using essential oils.
While these tips don’t guarantee full management of PCOS or any other hormonal diseases, it can be an additional measure in ensuring that along with proper medication and medical advice, you’ll have better results in managing your hormonal imbalance symptoms.