Older women are not the only ones who experience hormonal imbalance, even though that is the general stereotype.
Female teenagers can also suffer from hormonal imbalance, usually in the form of PMS (premenstrual syndrome).
Basically, women of every age can develop hormonal imbalance.
You may be experiencing this problem if you frequently have any of the following symptoms: PMS, breast tenderness, decreased sex drive, fatigue, headaches, dry eyes, irritability, uterine fibroids, insomnia, breast tenderness, infertility, early onset of menstruation, depression, memory loss, foggy thinking, thyroid dysfunction, fat gain, mood swings, polycystic ovaries, water retention, gallbladder disease, hypoglycaemia, irregular menstrual periods, hair loss, osteoporosis and magnesium deficiency.
The imbalance in hormones usually arises from an excess of oestrogen, known as oestrogen dominance.
Oestrogen dominance in women, children, and even men, has become even more common in modern life, due to the hormone’s presence in man-made products like pesticides, plastics, industrial waste and exhaust fumes.
Oestrogen from these products are known as xenohormones, and have the dangerous effect of mimicking natural hormones, tricking the body into using those hormones as building blocks for cell regeneration and energy production.
Overexposure to these xenohormones may cause sinus problems, headaches, dry eyes and asthma.
A long period of exposure may lead to serious health issues like arthritis, and even cancer.
Here are a few ways to balance your hormones naturally:
1. Eat natural healthy fats
Contrary to what seems “healthy”, our body’s fat content actually consists mainly of saturated fat, while only three percent consists of other types of fat, including polyunsaturated fat.
Even though that is a small percentage, the ratio of polyunsaturated omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is very important to balance, but we often ignore this.
We consume a lot of vegetable oil from plants like canola and soybean that contain high amounts of omega-6, but are low in omega-3 fatty acids.
This is one of the reasons most people are not getting a better balance of omega-3 fatty acids from their diet.
This type of fat is vital for pro-per cell function, and especially as building blocks for hormone production.
When we don’t give the body adequate amounts of these fats, it must use what is available, relying instead on lower quality polyunsaturated fats that lead to health issues like clogged arteries or skin problems.
A great source of high quality natural fat is coconut oil, which can be added to any kind of food, or even tea or coffee.
Other sources include avocados, olive oil, seafood, pasteurised eggs and raw dairy products.
2. Limit your caffeine intake
We love our coffee, but most of us are aware of the dangers of too much caffeine in our diet.
An example is the energy high followed by a massive crash and sour stomach from the acid in coffee some people experience from drinking too much coffee.
It is best to limit your intake to two to three cups per day, and eventually replace it altogether with herbal teas that are antioxidant- rich.
3. Avoid harmful chemicals
Pesticides, plastics, household cleaners, and even mattresses, can contain hormone-disrupting chemicals that mimic hormones in the body and keep the body from producing real hormones.
When you have hormonal imbalance, avoid inhaling those chemicals as much as you can.
Replace household cleaners with natural ones, cook with glass or non-coated metal cookware, and store your hot foods in non-plastic containers.
Beauty products also contain tens of thousands of chemicals that often have not had their long-term safety tested.
Avoid using brands that you are not familiar with, and do your research on the ingredients of a product.
4. Exercise regularly
Doing exercise improperly, like working intensely without supervision can actually make your hormone imbalance worse.
Concentrate more on slower- paced exercises like walking, yoga and Pilates to help you relax while stretching your muscles and getting your blood circulation going.
Aim to do a few sets of heavy lifting in short intervals, which sets off hormonal reactions that are beneficial.
Lift with kettlebells or do deadlifts at a weight that really challenges you.
5. Get enough sleep
Quality sleep is absolutely vital to hormonal balance.
A good night’s rest renews your body’s cells and cleanses the body of toxins.
A lack of sleep for even one night increases stress levels and increases the risk of more serious health pro-blems like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Improve your sleep with these following tips:
• Eliminate bright lights and other environmental stimuli that might disrupt your sleep.
Install filters on your handheld devices and computers to reduce blue light, which stimulates your brain and keeps you awake.
• Regulate your sleep patterns.
Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day to help maintain your natural circadian rhythms.
• Get plenty of water earlier in the evening, and stop drinking two hours before sleeping so that you won’t have to wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.
• Natural lighting helps to improve serotonin production, which balances out melatonin levels at night and helps you sleep better.
During the day, it is recommended that you spend about 30 minutes outdoors daily in natural light.
• Try meditation and deep breathing exercises before bed.
Do some stretching to relax your muscles or get someone to give you a light massage.
If no one is available, take a warm salt bath an hour before you sleep.
6. Use supplements wisely
We should ideally be getting the right amounts of nutrition from our food and drink, including key mi- nerals like magnesium and vitamin D, but with over-farming, our food is often depleted of rich nutrients.
Adding to that, air and water pollution means that there are more chemicals in our environment.
In that case, we need to ensure our nutritional needs are met with supplements.
Any good pharmacist can recommend some good supplements based on your individual needs.
7. Maintain digestive health
The digestive tract is where many vital neurotransmitters originate, which is why our gut has quite an impact on hormonal balance and why it is important to ensure gut health.
For example, serotonin, which helps with the production of melatonin, is found in higher concentrations in the gut than in the brain.
8. Balance your leptin
Leptin is a master hormone that regulates fat cells and energy ba- lance. It inhibits hunger and plays a role in other physiological functions in the body.
If your leptin is out of balance, no other hormones will balance well, and you will be prone to obesity.
A healthy leptin balance will help boost fertility, make weight loss easier, improve sleep and lower inflammation. Make sure to check with your doctor to find the cause of your hormone imbalance and the best way to correct it with either bioidentical hormones or natural therapy.
Datuk Dr Nor Ashikin Mokhtar is a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist. For further information, visit www.primanora.com. The information provided is for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published in this article is not intended to replace, supplant or augment a consultation with a health professional regarding the reader’s own medical care. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to the content appearing in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.