I mentioned before how some foods we eat can increase the amount of estrogen in our bodies. This is also true with testosterone and other hormones, meaning what we eat has a huge impact on our moods, health, and our body’s overall balance.
What exactly are hormones?
Hormones act as little messengers that are secreted directly into the bloodstream that carries them to organs and tissues to carry out their specific functions. There are many different types of hormones that act on different aspects of bodily functions and processes.
Basically, hormones control everything in our bodies and make us who we are. When these little messengers are out of whack, it causes everything from mood swings, depression, weight gain, acne, hair loss, and thyroid problems, to very serious diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
A lot of women who experience painful cycles, acne, or excessive mood swings are told by their doctors that the solution is to get on some form of birth control in order to “balance” their hormones. While this may fix the outward symptoms of their imbalance, and seem like an easy and quick fix, it is definitely not a long-term solution and should be carefully considered before jumping into.
Anytime a synthetic hormone is introduced into the body, even if it seems to help, the effects can be very dangerous. But did you know that birth control and other pharmaceuticals are not the only things that can disrupt your body’s natural hormones? Our largest organ – our skin – absorbs toxins from our environment, and from any cosmetics and body care products we put on it. A lot of conventional lotions and cosmetics contain hormone disruptors that greatly contribute to our body’s imbalance.
Choose your cosmetics wisely and do your research before applying something to your beautiful skin that is going to hurt you.
Stress is another huge factor that can cause hormonal swings. In fact, stress plays a major role in many of our diseases today. By getting adequate rest, practicing yoga or meditation, and drinking a daily herbal tea containing adaptogenic herbs, you may see a significant improvement in your overall health.
What are adaptogens?
Adaptogens are herbs that work to counteract the effects of stress in the body. Researchers have found that adaptogens have several effects on the body: neuroprotective elements, anti-fatigue properties, antidepressive effects, nervous system stimulant, and that they increase mental capacity and prevent stress. Although it sounds way too good to be true, the research on adaptogens suggests they might actually be as good as they sound.
Some adaptogenic herbs include; Ashwagandha, Tulsi (Holy Basil), Siberian Ginseng, and Eleuthero.
Herbs are also a great way to help your body achieve and maintain hormonal balance. My favorite hormone balancing herb is Maca Root, which comes in powder form and can be added to smoothies or coffee. With a mild nutty flavor, I sometimes also include it in my healthy, no-bake cookies. (you can find that recipe here) Maca root is also safe for toddlers and can help manage symptoms of ADHD! Don’t take Maca close to bedtime as some people find it to be very stimulating.
Bonus Tip I found Maca to be an invaluable tool in helping me overcome the immense hormonal fluctuations of postpartum. I honestly don’t know how I would have made it through without it!
Always remember that while taking herbal supplements is a great way to achieve better health, they do sometimes take up to six weeks of continual use to begin noticing a marked improvement. If you are suffering from any severe ailment that requires immediate medical attention, save the herbs for another time and contact your doctor for a quick fix.
Another thing to consider while taking herbal supplements is that while they are very nurturing and a great help to guide your body into a state of optimal health, they are not a miracle pill that will make up for a lack of self-care in other areas of your life. In order for herbs to work their true potential, you also must consider the food you are eating on a daily basis. Taking Maca with your morning coffee will not do a lot if that coffee is accompanied by three donuts and a large soda.
Staying active is another great way to encourage balance, and sweating enables your body to release excessive hormones and built-up toxins that would otherwise bog down your system. Exercising in the morning is the best time for this, but anytime you feel motivated to get that workout in is good enough for me.
Hormones play a huge role in our daily lives, and when they are out of balance they can throw off our entire routine and cause a lot of potentially serious problems. Keep them in check by being careful what you put on your skin and in your hair, watching that you do not eat an abundance of processed foods, getting adequate rest, managing your stress levels, and taking a quality adaptogenic and hormone balancing herbal supplement.
Tip for choosing herbal supplements
If you choose to take your herbs in the form of a tea, check to make sure that the dried herbs have a vibrant color and smell pungent. herbs that are dull and faint-smelling are not fresh and will not offer the health benefits of fresher herbs.
Fit Mom Frahm