How To Rebalance Your Hormones
Before, During And After Menopause:
The hormonal changes we experience throughout our lives are influenced by many factors. The average age of women reaching menopause is 52; however, the hormonal imbalance and menstrual cycle changes collectively known as ‘perimenopause’ can begin for women in their 30s and 40s.
Perimenopause symptoms include heavy periods, irregular periods, hot flashes, night sweats, breast tenderness, insomnia, weight gain, anxiety, low mood, hormonal acne, vaginal atrophy, heart palpitations, brain fog, and joint pain.
Many women experience these symptoms for over a decade before they reach menopause, and this can significantly impact their quality of life.
Before I tell you how to address hormone imbalance, let’s clear something up. We are meant to go into menopause, our menstrual cycle should cease, and our bodies will change. But that extensive list of symptoms should not be part of this picture. These symptoms arise from nutritional deficiencies, our modern lifestyle, chronic stress and poor gut health. To address these symptoms, you must address the underlying cause, which may be multifactorial for some women. So let’s start with the basics.
Eat Your Greens
We need to eat 5 cups of vegetables each day, but most of us don’t eat anywhere near this amount. Increasing your vegetable intake, especially Brassica vegetables – broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and spinach – is essential for balancing hormones. Brassica vegetables contain a phytonutrient called glucosinolates, which improves liver function, reduces inflammation, balances hormones and helps to prevent cancer.
Fibre keeps us feeling full and is essential for gut health, detoxification, healthy cholesterol levels and modulating estrogen. Most women don’t eat enough fibre and will benefit from increasing fibre in their diet. Oats, pumpkin seeds, chickpeas and lentils are excellent sources of fibre, as are fruit and vegetables.
Looking after your liver is vital for balancing your hormones and healthy ageing. This is because our liver breaks down hormones, makes new hormones, and removes toxins from our bodies.
If you struggle with sleep, fatigue, hot flashes or hormonal acne, your liver is overloaded and needs support. Increasing your intake of bitter foods like lemons, rocket, cos lettuce and radicchio and ensuring you drink enough water is a great place to start, along with reducing alcohol consumption and eliminating simple carbohydrates like sugar, cakes, biscuits and bread.
Perimenopause symptoms often go hand in hand with thyroid health. Our thyroid is responsible for our metabolism, and addressing our thyroid health can be an essential factor in helping balance hormones and weight management. Many women are simply deficient in the vitamins and minerals necessary for healthy thyroid function, while stress and gut health also impact our thyroid.
Plastic is an endocrine disruptor; it mimics the hormones in our body, leading to hormone imbalance. Our modern world is filled with plastic, and it is almost impossible to avoid it altogether.
Reducing plastic in our homes is a good place to start but we also need a healthy liver and digestive system to detoxify the plastic that we are inadvertently exposed to. These include BPA, which is found in water pipes, shopping receipts, chewing gum, coffee cups and teabags and phthalates found in building materials, insecticides, dental products and cosmetics.
Many women struggle with sleep; they struggle to fall asleep, they wake in the night, or they sleep well but wake feeling tired, not refreshed and revitalised. Our body is busy while we sleep, our muscles, skin and bones repair, our memories are consolidated, and our liver regenerates. Lack of quality sleep depletes progesterone and allows cortisol to be unopposed, leading to hormonal imbalance and depleting the nutrients needed for quality sleep.
Stress is one of the most significant factors influencing hormonal imbalance, and it is often overlooked. Chronic stress can lead to elevated cortisol and increased adipose tissue – fat! Adipose tissue produces estrogen, so weight gain is your body’s way of trying to balance hormones. Stress also depletes the nutrients we need to make hormones and for sleep.
As a nutritionist and naturopath, my practice focuses on nutrition and gut health, but I also utilise herbal medicine, functional testing and breath work for my clients as needed. Looking at their health and well-being holistically ensures they can achieve balanced hormones and have a positive journey to menopause and beyond.
After reading this article I do hope there is something in you lifestyle,
(should you need to) that you can change to ensure your hormones stay balanced…
About The Author
Jean Jarrett is a qualified nutritionist, naturopath and owner of Elemental Health on the North Shore of Sydney. Jean has always been interested in eating nourishing food and managing her family’s health and well-being with natural therapies. She believes strongly in ‘food as medicine’ and works with her clients to educate them and help them implement dietary changes in ways that best suit their busy lifestyles.
Jean sees clients both in her clinic and online. She created the Menopause Reset Program for women in their 40, 50 and 60s. The program guides women on a journey to balancing their hormones, regaining their vitality and resetting their metabolism.
The Menopause Reset Program is a 10-week program held in person and online. Groups are small so the information can be tailored to what you need. The program provides education and support around all aspects of perimenopause and menopause including hormones, nutrition, bone health, digestive health, stress management, weight loss, sleep, mindset and more.