All mental, physical and emotional factors affect our overall health as women, but there’s another factor you’ve probably heard of but may not pay enough attention to: balanced hormones.
Hormones are chemical messengers produced in glands and are secreted in the blood to cell receptors throughout the body. You can think of the endocrine system as the body’s physiological ‘internet’, a network of signals that communicate with all other systems, affecting immunity, metabolism, reproduction and much more.
Balanced hormones: health Estrogen and progesterone
The female endocrine system is complex and fragile. A little reminder in case you’ve forgotten everything from health physiology 101: the two main female sex hormones are estrogen and progesterone. When they are balanced, most of us feel really good.
We need more progesterone than estrogen. The problem is that this can be difficult to achieve because the environment we live in is saturated with xenoestrogens, chemicals that mimic estrogen in the body. (Xeno means ‘foreign’ because they come from outside the body.) Several xenoestrogen sites are found here:
- Mercury in fish is considered a metalloestrogen, AKA a metal that can act like an estrogen.
- Bisphenol-A or BPA, found in many plastics, has been shown to activate estrogen receptors.
- Parabens and phthalates, Found in many skin care and cosmetic products, are considered exogenous sources of estrogen that can interfere with normal hormone signalling.
5 smart tips for balanced hormones
It’s a challenge to be balanced hormonal health these days, but smart women don’t give up hope. Instead, they proactively take care of themselves because they know that hormones control everything in the body.
How to do it. Start with these five simple changes to your daily routine.
- Carefully work on balancing blood sugar levels.
Balanced blood sugar is the foundation of hormonal balance. When we consume too much sugar or refined carbohydrates, excess insulin is created, which in turn increases the production of an enzyme called aromatase. And guess what: Aromatase is the main enzyme responsible for the formation of oestrogen.
- Keep your gut in good shape. The gut is an important site for estrogen detoxification. What this means. The liver sends excess estrogen to the large intestine for removal from the body, but if you’re constipated, this can slow its exit. No good. Also, if bad bacteria rule your gut, these buggers can produce an enzyme called beta-glucoronidase. The enzyme un-pairs estrogen from its binding in the gut and allows it to wander free again. Again, not good.
- Get rid of personal care products that contain parabens and phthalates.
Instead, use products from brands that are committed to pure, safe ingredients. Remember that skin is porous and that using safer products reduces exposure to estrogenic chemicals.
- Never microwave food in plastic.
Put it on a glass or ceramic plate before you heat it, right? Plastic, especially when heated, can leach into food and have estrogenic activity.
- Avoid cultured meat.
Go plant-based or buy health grass-fed beef to avoid hormone residues fed to large-scale farmed animals.