Hormones are the “fall guys” for everything during menopause. They take the blame for many of our emotional and physical discomforts. Truth is, hormones are not the “villains” that we see them to be – they are actually our greatest allies during menopause! However, when hormone balance goes haywire, our body goes through a roller coaster ride of symptoms!
Our hormonal system is like our biological “internet”. It creates a web of signals that coordinate our entire body. Hormones are the little messengers that guide organs what to do and sync every function so we can maintain our body’s internal balance.
While hormones work for our benefit, we also need to work on the delicate balance of our hormone levels!
Our body produces 50+ hormones. In women, estrogen and progesterone are the main players! When we reach menopause, our ovaries slow down, and as a result, our hormone levels decrease. In addition, testosterone, serotonin, thyroid hormone and cortisol levels also drop. These hormonal changes can cause a ripple of discomforts during menopause.
The key to a symptom-free menopause is HORMONE BALANCE!
We can do this by:
- Eating a healthy diet
- Living a stress-free lifestyle
- Supplementing with nutrients
Continue reading for my best tips on what to eat, supplement and do!To control your hormones is to control your life! - Barry SearsClick To Tweet
What to Eat!
Healthy diet is one of the best ways how to increase estrogen and progesterone during menopause. There’s a wide variety of healthy foods to choose from, but there are specific ones that have potent hormone boosting properties!
- Vegetables: Yam, Carrots, Alfalfa Sprouts, Kale and Celery
- Dark Leafy Greens: Bok Choy, Chards and Arugula
- Wild-caught Fish: Salmon, Tuna, Sardines and Herring
- Seafood: Oysters, Lobsters and Crabs
- Fruits: Peaches and Avocados
- Berries: Goji Berries, Raspberries and Blueberries
- Legumes: Lentils, Peas and Pinto Beans
- Herbs: Black Cohosh, Maca, Turmeric, Thyme, Red Clover, Sage, Ginseng, Ashwagandha and Chasteberry (Vitex)
- Seeds: Flaxseeds, Chia, Hemp and Sesame Seeds
- Nuts: Almonds, Brazil Nuts, Walnuts and Cashews
- Healthy Oils: Olive and Coconut
Most foods that increase hormone levels are those with phytoestrogens and adaptogens. Phytoestrogens are plant-based estrogens which function like our naturally-produced estrogens. They have a weaker effect, so they don’t overstimulate the body. “Phytoestrogen overload” is rare because our body flushes out excess via our urine.
Flaxseeds, Lentils, Alfalfa and the super herb Maca are among the top sources of phytoestrogens. Maca, in particular, is popular among menopausal women because it’s a potent symptom buster! It can supply us with natural estrogen, stimulate the ovaries to produce more hormones and keep the adrenal glands healthy.
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Adaptogens are natural-balancing compounds which have broad health benefits. They are called adaptogens for a reason, they “adapt” their response to our specific needs.
Adaptogens relieve and heal the damage of stress. These natural compounds take care of our adrenal glands, which regulates stress hormones, such as cortisol. Adaptogens also eliminate the toxic wastes of our body processes. Like phytoestrogens, adaptogens have subtle but positive effects to the body. Ginseng and Ashwagandha are two herbs with high adaptogenic content!
Dr. Axe has loads of info about the best adaptogenic herbs which can help with adrenal fatigue and stress [11:36]:
Foods rich in healthy fats are essential because they help build hormones. We also need healthy fats for energy, vitamin, mineral absorption and metabolism. All these functions can increase and regulate hormone levels.
The “western diet” makes people eat more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3s. Experts believe that this imbalance can cause inflammation and chronic illnesses. To prevent this imbalance, we need to avoid consuming processed vegetable oils.
Olive oil, coconut oil, pastured eggs, flax seeds, chia seeds and fatty fish, such as sardines, tuna and salmon, are great food sources to balance omega-3 and omega-6.
When these two fats are in balance, they can fight gut inflammation. Our gut is one of the pillars of hormone production. In fact, a large amount of serotonin comes from our gut. Besides this, our gut helps activate estrogen and progesterone so they can release their effects in the body.
Unknown to many, healthy fats are also powerful detoxification starters! They usher out hormone-disrupting toxins through your liver and bowels. Besides healthy fats, berries and veggies are also rich in anti-inflammatory compounds and antioxidants.
Vitamins and minerals are raw materials which our body needs to produce hormones and energy. We can get all these nutrients from eating a healthy diet. However, if you have a nutrient deficiency, you can also take natural supplements. Many people actually have vitamin and mineral deficiencies today because of “modern diet”.
The keto-green way of eating is one of the best ways to go for hormone balance. In this diet, we eat lots of veggies, healthy fats, but moderate protein. I eat this way myself and I’ve had excellent results. My weight is the same as I was in my 20s and I have a lot of energy!
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What Supplements to take
Supporting our body’s natural ability to produce hormones is a good way to increase hormone levels and balance. Check out my top recommended supplement must-haves for menopause!
- Magnesium – a mineral wonder that makes 300+ enzymatic activities in the body possible! Magnesium is an integral nutrient in the production of estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and melatonin. It also regulates the effects of cortisol in the body.
- Zinc – stimulates the release of FSH (follicular stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinizing hormone) to start ovulation. Better ovulation means better hormone production!
- Sulfur – this mineral is the force behind our body’s most potent detoxifier – glutathione! Without sulfur, glutathione stays inactive in body and toxins, free radicals and fake hormones might build up. MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane), a popular health supplement, is a natural source of sulfur.
- Vitamin C, E, B12, B6 – experts say we need more progesterone than estrogen. Vitamin C, E, B12 and B6 stimulates the corpus luteum, a gland found in the ovaries and the primary maker of progesterone.
- Amino acids – builds cells, tissues and organs in the body, including hormones. Arginine and Tyrosine are two amino acids that make up estrogen, progesterone and serotonin.
- Pre/probiotics – both prebiotics and probiotics are essential for gut health! Probiotics regulate gut bacteria, maintain gut acidity and improve the movement of food. Prebiotics help the body take in more probiotics!
- Tryptophan – a protein that helps in producing your happy hormones, serotonin and dopamine. Tryptophan also converts to melatonin, the sleeping hormone.
Besides all these supplements, it’s important that we help support our parent, or precursor, hormones. Parent hormones activate and convert themselves to active hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. An example is DHEA, which can turn itself into almost all sex hormones and cortisol. Another one is Pregnanolone, which can activate into progesterone.
Best Lifestyle Habits to Increase and Balance Hormones Naturally!
Exercise is a must, not only during menopause but throughout life. Moving your body improves blood circulation, stimulates hormone-producing glands and flushes out harmful toxins. Exercise also activates our lymphatic system and the liver, two of our main detoxifiers.
It’s good to do a mix of different exercises and activities every day. You can do Pilates, Yoga, Qigong or take brisk walks in nature. If you’re up for it, you can also do strength training. However, if you’re stressed, it best to avoid extreme workouts because they can strain the ovaries and adrenals. As a result, they might produce lesser hormones.
Stress less! Stress is the mother of all diseases. In fact, stress can mess up our hormone balance big time. You see, cortisol is a stimulant hormone produced by the adrenal glands. Cortisol is helpful for short periods of time, but it can hyperactivate and overwork our body in cases of chronic stress.
It’s about time to start SLOWING DOWN, prioritize and delegate responsibilities. Get 7 to 9 hours of quality, uninterrupted sleep every day! This will allow your body to recover and recharge!
Detoxify every single day. Besides exercise, intermittent fasting can do wonders for our body. It gives our body a break and provides our detoxifying organs time to remove all the built-up toxins in the body.
Start your day with warm water and lemon. It’s a pretty decent natural detoxifier! Do deep breathing and give your body dry brushing and lymphatic massage every day. These detoxifying methods open up the lymphatic pathways to get rid of toxins.
I like this video by Dr. Eric Berg where he talks about how the lymphatic system work in the body [5:31]:
Best of all, lessen exposure to toxins! Choose organic as much as possible, avoid using plastics and commercial products. Filter tap water with an advanced water-filtering system, like Brita.
How Do the Liver and Lymphatic System Work for Hormone Balance?
The liver does so much for us! Believe it or not, it is in-charge of 200+ functions in the body! However, one of its most notable work is detoxification, and it has plenty of tricks on its sleeve to do this. It purifies the blood, boosts metabolism, filters and absorbs healthy fats. All these important life functions can help promote hormone balance.
In addition, it flushes out excess hormones and their waste products. When a gland produces a hormone, it redirects the hormone to our liver for activation. The activated hormone travels to the specific part of the body where it is needed. Once the hormone finishes its job, the liver then flushes it out along with its by-products. This function is necessary to maintain hormone balance.
The liver helps in the production of the lymphatic fluid, also known as the lymph. This is the colorless liquid that cleanses our whole body. About a third of the lymph comes from the liver.
Our liver also strengthens the immune system by stimulating the production of our immune cells. These cells are responsible for autophagy, a form of detoxification method. Autophagy happens when the body eats its own damaged tissues to make way for new cell generation.
We can compare the lymphatic system like a drainage or sewage system. Lymph nodes are garbage collectors that trap bacteria, viruses and toxins. Almost all parts of our body have lymph nodes. The lymph fluid then travels all around the body, carrying immune cells to eat these intruders. Once the lymph finishes, it will carry all the waste products to major detoxifying organs, such as the spleen, liver and lungs.
Unlike blood circulation, our lymphatic system relies on gravity and movement to flow. That is why, it’s important to have an active lifestyle to avoid congestion!
Increasing hormone levels during menopause is all about living healthy! We might not be able to bring back our 20-year body again, but we can boost our sluggish functions with good food, an active lifestyle and the right supplements!
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