If you are a woman, it’s highly likely that you’ve experienced the unpleasantries associated with an abnormal menstrual cycle. As hormones ebb and flow throughout the month, symptoms such as PMS, heavy bleeding, menstrual-related headaches, or breast tenderness can be all-too-familiar and disruptive to your life. Although these symptoms may be common, that doesn’t mean they are normal.
Female sex hormones are synthesized in the ovaries from their precursor, cholesterol, which is also used by the adrenal glands to produce a vital stress hormone known as cortisol. If there isn’t enough cholesterol to go around, adrenal hormones and sex hormones have to fight for the cholesterol. Additionally, If high levels of stress are present, sex hormones can become compromised, leading to dysfunctions down the road.
So, when hormone disruptions occur, the most important thing to do is try and figure out what the underlying cause might be. Besides an insufficient amount of hormone precursor material (i.e., cholesterol), sex hormone dysfunctions can also stem from blood sugar issues, poor liver detoxification, exposure to exogenous hormones, insufficient fatty acids, environmental toxins, and other unknown causes.
One of the best places to begin is by evaluating all skin and body care products. A vast majority of over-the-counter brands contain hormone-disrupting chemicals that are often toxic and even carcinogenic. Although the label will not openly list any added hormones, don’t assume they aren’t present. One of the best ways to check your ingredients for their level of toxicity is by using the Skin Deep app found at www.EWG.org. Just enter the names of the first five ingredients on your skin and body care products to measure toxicity. The goal is to use only products that have a rating from 0 to 3. We advise our clients to try out Beautycounter, great products and they rank well on EWG.
After you’ve eliminated any possible chemicals, toxins, or other exogenous hormone exposures, be sure to get plenty of fats and fatty acids in your diet. These can include flaxseed oil, wheat germ oil, and one of our favorites, grass-fed butter. And while you’re at it, do your best to maintain stable blood sugar levels, which can make a dramatic improvement in your overall hormone health.
And finally, be sure to provide gentle support for the liver. As the body’s primary hormone detoxification organ, the liver plays a vital role in removing excess hormones and then maintaining the right amount f hormones for use in the body. The best foods to boost liver detoxification are cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and kale. Other foods that improve detoxification include Spanish black radish, garlic, and onions. And for even more support, certain herbs can also help. Two of our favorites include schisandra and milk thistle. After adding a few of these liver power-foods and herbs, your body and your hormones will be much happier!