One month you experience your menstrual flow and the next it is amiss. You assume it is normal but 2-3 months later there is no sign of the flow and you get concerned. A visit to the gynaecologist is accompanied by blood tests that are to determine the cause of the irregular periods. Soon after the results are out and you are diagnosed with hormonal imbalance. What next after the diagnosis?
Hormones are chemicals produced by glands in the endocrine system. They send signals to various organs with different messages on what they are to execute. Hormones help regulate metabolism and appetite, heart rate, sleep cycles, reproductive cycles and sexual function, moods and stress levels, body temperature, and general growth and development.
Hormonal balance is deeply connected to the food we eat, exercises we indulge in, toxins we absorb, the weight we bear, and the stress levels we put up with. When there is too much or too little of a hormone that is defined as hormonal imbalance, this can wreak havoc on our wellbeing. Hormonal imbalance affects both men and women alike however, women are most at risk.
Irregular menstrual flow is one sign of hormonal imbalance. Other signs to look out for include:
- Poor digestion (such as bloating)
- Acne and unhealthy skin
- Interrupted sleep patterns
- Thinning of hair or excessive hair growth
- Unexplained weight gain
- Depression and anxiety
- Mood swings
- Diminished joint health
- Reduced brain function
- Dwindling energy levels
- Reduced sex drive
- Heavy periods, infertility and endometriosis
In case any of these signs are experienced, a visit to the gynaecologist would help in proper diagnosis and treatment. Identifying the symptoms is but a tip of the iceberg in getting to tackle with hormonal imbalance. The matter lies in identifying the causative factors.
A leaky gut, being either underweight, overweight or obese, PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome), extreme exercise, stress, inadequate nutrition, hormonal replacement therapy or birth control pills, pregnancy, postpartum, and a dysfunctional thyroid are the common culprits of imbalanced hormonal levels. Additionally, exposure to certain chemicals such as BPA, dioxin, lead, mercury, arsenic, and per fluorinated chemicals can result in hormonal imbalance as these chemicals alter the optimal functioning of hormones.
Proper medication and a good diet are vital in managing hormonal levels. A balanced diet that is high in fiber and flavonoids contains green leafy and cruciferous vegetables, rich in omega 3 oils, and includes adaptogenic herbs is paramount. In conjunction with the diet, getting adequate sleep, good stress management techniques, being active and seed cycling can help manage and prevent some of the causes of hormonal imbalance.
Besides managing diet and medication, consuming fewer animal products and organic products, minimizing the consumption of canned foods, avoiding plastic food containers, and use of non-stick pans as well as getting rid of old paint carefully are practices that should be adopted. Adopting such practices will help minimize hormonal interference by chemicals. When these practices are actualized, cases of heavy periods, infertility, endometriosis, and hirsutism can be prevented.
An informed mind is best equipped to handle this condition. Women diagnosed with hormonal imbalance can be emotionally drained with thoughts of probable infertility and even lower one’s self-esteem. However, working with your gynaecologist and having a total lifestyle change are encouraged to help in hormonal balancing. Additionally, if on birth control pills or hormonal family planning methods that are interfering with your menstrual cycle and weight, take up the matter with your gynaecologist for an alternative birth control method.
Hormonal imbalance is preventable as well as treatable. Psychosocial support (such as PCOS foundation), information, and healthy, organic foods are readily available. Regardless of how alone you may feel, you are not truly alone because we have your back on dietary matters. Consider including our range of fibre-rich flours, enriched with adaptogenic herbs, and herbal infusions to help level the hormones.