Whenever we hear the term hormonal imbalance, we think of menopause or PCOS for women and erectile dysfunction and hair loss in men. But the truth is, from the moment we’re born, our hormones influence various biological processes, like hunger, sleep patterns, how we respond to stress, libido, joy or nervousness, and everything in between.
This article will cover all the scientifically proven methods to manage hormonal levels. But first, we need to learn what hormonal imbalance is.
What is Hormonal Imbalance?
Hormones play a crucial role in maintaining health. Thus, even a slight imbalance can have detrimental effects. When there is an excess of one hormone or a deficiency of another, this is known as a hormone imbalance.
The imbalances can be expressed in a wide variety of ways. Those will vary according to the specific hormones or glands that are malfunctioning. Any of the following signs and symptoms may be caused by one of several common changes that occur in hormonal levels, as per research.
- Weight gain/loss.
- Hair loss in both genders.
- Puffiness or rounded face appearance.
- Adult acne, especially in women.
- Muscle fatigue, tenderness, severe pain, or weakness.
- Increased or decreased heart rate.
- Blue discoloration or cold hands/feet.
- Sweating or hot flashes.
- Frequent urination.
- Increased sensitivity to hot or cold environments.
- Increased thirst and hunger.
- Low sexual drive
- Blurred vision.
- Dry skin.
- Purple/pink stretch marks on the body.
In women, some symptoms to watch out for indicate a hormonal imbalance. These include painful or irregular periods, acne, hair loss, skin discoloration, vaginal dryness, sex-related pain, and headaches.
What can be the cause?
There are several potential causes of hormone imbalance. It depends on whether hormones or glands in the body are impacted. Medications, cancer therapies, food disorders, stress, accident, or trauma can cause hormonal levels to fluctuate. Conditions like these,
- All forms of diabetes: Type 2 diabetes, Type 1 diabetes, and pregnancy-related diabetes.
- Thyroid disorders include hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), amenorrhea, and anovulation contribute to menstrual irregularity.
Infertility in females.
- Low testosterone levels are a leading cause of male infertility (hypogonadism).
and other diseases can cause changes in hormonal levels but are not limited to these.
Diagnosis of Hormone Imbalance.
The first step for detecting changes in hormonal levels is to schedule a checkup with a doctor. The doctor will examine what exactly is wrong. Because there is no single way to identify which hormones are out of balance, your doctor may need to do many tests to discover the origin of your symptoms and the most effective treatment for your specific imbalance.
Examples of such assessments include:
- Blood testing. can measure hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, thyroxine, TSH, insulin, and cortisol.
- Pelvic exam. For both men and women can be done to detect any abnormalities and changes.
- Ultrasound and imaging testing. Doctors often prescribe imaging tests like an ultrasound, X-ray, or MRI to take images of the thyroid, pituitary gland, thymus, and uterus to look for cysts or tumors that could be responsible for the body’s excessive hormone production.
- Urine testing. They are used to assess hormone levels related to the menstrual cycle, such as follicle-stimulating hormone, etc.
- Biopsy in certain cases for checking the presence of tumors or cysts.
Some companies offering at-home testing kits may provide devices enabling individuals to take tests home. Examples include urine and blood testing. One should confirm that the company has a good reputation and utilizes accredited laboratories to examine testing materials.
You might wonder why your doctor can’t just run a simple test to see if you have balanced hormonal levels. Because hormone levels fluctuate daily and even hourly, hormone testing differs significantly from testing for cholesterol or iron in the blood. They changed depending on your menstrua,l cycle when you had your last meal, your other hormones, and stress. In light of this, it is clear that a single “hormone check” cannot reveal whether or not your hormones are in harmony.
Combating Deficiencies in Hormonal Levels.
Although age-related decline in hormone levels is unavoidable, there are approaches for keeping them under check. Here are some suggestions to help you achieve hormonal balance:
1. Make time to Exercise.
Exercise has been found to boost and maintain many hormones in the body. Try for a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week. Even moderate exercise, such as walking, can increase these hormone levels and, in turn, strength and quality of life for those who cannot engage in more strenuous physical activity.
Muscle-maintaining hormones, such as testosterone, IGF-1, DHEA, and human growth hormone, tend to drop with age. However, regular exercise may help counteract this tendency. (1)(2)(3). High-intensity interval training, weight lifting, and cardiovascular exercise have all been linked to reduced risk of insulin resistance. This has also been discussed in a podcast by Dr. Huberman with Dr. Kyle Gillete, MD, certified in family medicine, that resistance training is particularly helpful for hormonal imbalance training.
Dr. Kyle also suggests a sustainable regimen for vigorous exercise about 3-4 times a week but not more than one hour as it has been found not beneficial, with smaller durations of less vigorous exercises can add up.
2. Diet for Better Hormonal Health.
It is an individualized approach.
- Proteins. Proteins supply essential amino acids required for synthesizing peptide hormones that the body cannot manufacture independently. These hormones are essential for regulating many bodily functions, such as development, energy metabolism, hunger, stress response, and more. Experts advise consuming at least 20–30 g of protein every meal. You may consume high-protein foods at each meal, such as eggs, chicken breast, lentils, and fish.
- Eat Healthy Fats. Hormone production relies heavily on consuming “good fats” that are rich in natural Omega-3s. These essential fats are crucial for hormone synthesis and reduce inflammation, speed up the metabolism, and aid in weight reduction. Adding up these to your food stack will be very much helpful. In 2016, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported evidence that omega-3s may affect ovulation and female fertility.
- Good Fiber in Diet. Consuming adequate amounts of fiber every day is essential for maintaining good health. According to studies, it boosts insulin sensitivity and encourages the synthesis of hormones that make you feel full. The standard recommendation is to ingest at least 25 g of fiber daily. What are the best fiber sources to meet daily requirements? Read it here!
3. Sleep is Important.
There’s a reason why doctors advise a minimum of seven to eight hours of sleep every night: it helps keep your hormones in check.
Sleep deprivation or circadian rhythm disruption can cause a hormone imbalance. Several hormonal imbalances, including insulin, cortisol, leptin, ghrelin, and human growth hormone (HGH), have been related to sleeplessness.
In another study, including 2,250 participants, individuals allocated to a short sleep group had disturbed hormone levels more than those who slept the recommended amount. That is why a good night’s sleep is essential to properly operating the body’s systems, as has been said many times before.
4. Maintain Weight.
When you put on extra pounds, your hormones can go all out of whack, and that can cause problems with your insulin sensitivity and your reproductive health. Obesity causes insulin resistance, and losing weight is associated with improvements in insulin resistance and a decreased risk of diabetes and heart disease in many types of research. (1)(2)(3)(4).
5. Take care of Gut Health.
Hormones can be positively affected by maintaining a balanced gut flora, which can help control hunger and decrease insulin resistance. Studies indicate that obesity may alter the makeup of the gut microbiota to enhance insulin resistance and inflammation. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole foods can help you maintain intestinal health. Learn more about the gut microbiome in this article.
6. Reduce Stress levels.
Nighttime stress is particularly damaging since it can interrupt sleep, elevating cortisol levels. According to a recent study from Stanford University, a nighttime cortisol rise causes the body to generate fat cells.
Elevated cortisol levels from continuous stress make people hungry, leading them to consume more high-sugar and high-fat meals. And it, in turn, might cause them to eat too much and gain weight. That is why it is essential to reduce stress levels. By practicing stress-reduction methods like meditation, yoga, and listening to calming music, you may reduce your cortisol levels, as shown by studies. (1) (2) (3).
Nearly half of all Americans have tried complementary and alternative medicine, and research indicates that it is useful for “lowering stress and the bothersomeness of some menopausal symptoms” and other hormone-related irritations. They can be performed within 15-20 minutes daily to reap their benefits.
Hormone production may be stimulated by taking certain supplements like primrose oil, Vitamin D, probiotics, and even bone broth. Vitamin D is best absorbed when taken with a high-fat meal, so do so whenever possible. A third option is to combine your vitamin D and fish oil supplements.
- Magnesium. Magnesium is a key component for maintaining hormonal balance. It helps to regulate our biological clocks, which stabilizes hormone release throughout the day and night, according to a 2015 research from the University of Edinburgh. Dietary sources of magnesium are the best approach to ensure enough magnesium intake. Approximately 320 mg of magnesium per day constitutes the RDA.
- Vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential for maintaining normal physiological functioning, especially those associated with hormonal imbalance, as it is also a hormone. It has also been proven that vitamin D increases testosterone levels. Most people, especially women, need 600–800 IU of vitamin D3 daily to maintain health. If you have a deficiency or take Vitamin D supplements to maintain health and hormonal balance, the daily recommendation is 1,000IUs.
- Vitamin B. B complex vitamins include B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folate), and B12 (cobalamin). For decades, vitamin B9 (folic acid) has been advised as an essential supplement for pregnancy and hormonal balance. It is also important for regulating mood and progesterone levels for proper body functioning.
- Vitamin E. Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant proven to smooth skin, encourage hair development, and for balanced hormonal levels. It is also anti-estrogenic, which means it reduces the adverse effects of estrogen and improves fertility. Many typical menopausal symptoms, such as night sweats, sleeplessness, palpitations, hot flashes, and vaginal dryness, can be alleviated by vitamin E dosage. It is probably safe for most individuals at levels below 1000 mg per day.
- Try Adaptogens. This might sound unfamiliar, but adaptogenic herbs like those in this category may aid the body in dealing with stress and maintaining healthy hormone levels. They’re great for your mood, adrenals, and thyroid and help keep your blood sugar and insulin levels steady. Siberian ginseng, ashwagandha, and Rhodiola have been shown to be very helpful in controlling stress in clinical studies carried out by Indian scientists in 2012 and a review of data conducted by the Swedish Herbal Institute in 2010.
8. Avoid Toxins.
Numerous toxins constantly surround our bodies. Some of these toxins misbehave with hormones by interfering with the production of hormones and causing damage to the natural hormonal balance. Xenoestrogens, a class of substances, can imitate or alter human hormone-related effects. Take precautions against hormone-disrupting chemicals by avoiding pesticides, plastics containing BPA (bisphenol A) and phthalates, and triclosan-containing cosmetics and household supplies.
9. Hormone replacement therapy.
To treat a hormonal imbalance, doctors must determine what’s causing it.
Hormone replacement therapy is the primary treatment for low hormonal levels. Hormone imbalances can be treated with either oral (pill) or injectable therapy. Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is becoming popular for helping people keep their hormone levels steady as they age.
Bioidentical hormones are natural (i.e., not manufactured in a lab) hormones with the same chemical structure as human hormones. Consequently, your body processes them similarly to how it processes its hormones. The capacity of your body to identify the hormones in your system is key to your ability to reap the benefits of the acts that each hormone is designed to do.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy: Both men and women can benefit from testosterone replacement treatment since it improves energy metabolism, improves body composition, and perhaps prevents other detrimental consequences of aging.
One study of life tables found that testosterone therapy increased hypogonadal men’s lifespan by 9 to 10% over five years, making them equivalent to men with normal testosterone levels. According to the same study, postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy increased survival by 2.6% over five years.
This treatment can be administered in the form of pills, skin patches, vaginal methods, or gel.
- Tablets are the most common form of HRT and are simple to consume.
- Patches. This kind of hormone replacement is applied to the skin and then replaced as directed by a physician. These patches reduce tablet-related adverse effects such as indigestion, nausea, and vomiting.
- Gel. Since this formulation is a gel, it is applied to the skin topically.
The TRT is not risk-free, but these risks may outweigh the advantages. . Discuss the risks and benefits with your physician if you are considering this treatment.
Supplemental DHEA has improved various health issues, including vaginal atrophy, erectile dysfunction, bone density, fatigue, and depression. It works similarly to melatonin and may be purchased without a doctor’s prescription. Women typically take 25 mg, while males take 50 mg. DHEA is also available in the form of topical cream or gel, as well as in tablet or pill form.
10. Natural Ingredients to Balance Hormonal Levels.
The recommended nutrients to consume for various types of hormone imbalance, according to research, are,
- For low testosterone. Eating zinc-rich meals can help keep testosterone levels in check. Also, vitamins D and C have found their benefits for hormonal imbalances in men. (1)
- For PCOS. Replace most of your carbohydrates with healthy fats like avocados, nuts, seeds, coconut yogurt, olives, olive oil, and oily seafood (salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and herring) as they have been found to assist in cell regeneration and hormone stabilization.
- High estrogen levels. Eat a lot of cruciferous veggies, including broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, cabbage, and kale. Sulfur and indole-3-carbinol, both found in these vegetables, that aid in liver detoxification and eliminate excess hormones from the body.
- Low estrogen levels. Consume food like beans, chickpeas, and flax seeds that are rich in phytoestrogens. They have been found beneficial in hot flashes management, osteoporosis, and the treatment of hormonal acne in post-menopausal women.
- For thyroid. For optimal thyroid function, eat enough seaweed, which is rich in the mineral iodine. Selenium, which is present in brazil nuts, is necessary for the body to convert thyroid hormones into an active form.
Hormonal imbalances are a normal component of the aging process. At the same time, some of the accompanying symptoms might be unpleasant and can affect a person’s physical and emotional health, and this can be a difficult adjustment for anybody, but it can be managed. However, if you are feeling any of these negative symptoms, several treatment alternatives can help you feel more “normal” again.