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What Being “Hormonal” Really Means

What Being “Hormonal” Really Means

“You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.” - Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi 
1869-1948

 

 

 

While I was out to dinner a friend ordered a beet dish and I mentioned that beets are one of the best hormone balancing foods. She asked, ‘What does that mean exactly?’ Such a great question. What does a hormone balancing food do? What does it mean to be hormonally balanced?

It’s become such a buzzword lately, but do we know what it means?

To say your hormones may be unbalanced can mean a whole slew of things. Your estrogen, testosterone, DHEA, Vit D (yes vitamin d is actually a hormone) or cortisol can be too high or too low. Your thyroid can be too fast or too slow (with a combination of a bunch other thyroid markers that can be too high or low). Your progesterone 9 times out of 10 is too low. You get the jist.

beets

To answer her question about beets, a hormone balancing food in this case is one that helps the liver clean the body of old-bad-used estrogen and send that old estrogen through the bowels so that the body gets the signal to produce more good estrogen.

With stagnant estrogen in the system (or too many phytoestrogens in the body from things like BPA) the body thinks it has enough and won’t produce more, but it’s fake estrogen that can’t actually be used. Anything that supports the liver and bowels is going to support estrogen levels.

This is just one example of one food and one hormone. There are many more foods (or lack of certain foods) that can help us clean up the body and balance our hormones. 


How would you know if you had a hormonal imbalance?

 

Do you have any of these symptoms?

Estrogen imbalance can result in moodiness, weight gain, cyclical headaches, weepiness at seemingly ridiculous things, abnormal pap smears, low libido, or infertility.

Progesterone imbalance results in PMS, painful periods, anxiety, restless legs and the inability to calm yourself down.

Testosterone in excess can result in hair on the face or chest, acne, greasy skin or hair, unstable blood sugar, being excessively aggressive, or mid-cycle pain.

Vitamin D deficiency can result in depression. You may feel many of the other hormone symptoms because we need vitamin D to make all of the other hormones.

Thyroid imbalance (in this case being too slow or hypothyroid) typically shows itself with thin hair and nails, cold hands and feet, a thinning outer third of your eyebrow, inability to lose weight, dry skin, slow speech, and infertility.

Cortisol imbalance (sometimes known as adrenal fatigue) will result in extreme fatigue after a workout, finding it almost impossible to get out of bed in the morning and hard to fall asleep at night, tired but wired feeling, sugar cravings, abdominal fat and eczema, to name a few. Cortisol imbalance is so common with the amount of stress we put on our bodies, yet most docs don’t measure it and instead measure the other hormones. It then starts to affect the rest of the endocrine system. So if you have a thyroid issue, for example, it could really be stemming from your cortisol imbalance.

I can and do use symptoms as a starting point with clients, but you can’t really know for sure unless you test yourself.

Where people can go wrong is to just assume and take a supplement willy-nilly, sometimes making the problem worse. A client recently came to me taking supplements to lower her cortisol, when after testing we saw that her cortisol was too low and she had been making the problem worse. 

This is why a one-diet-fits-all doesn’t work. Every one of us is so incredibly different, has been through different kinds of lifestyles and stressors, has different ranges of ability to process stress, and has had different forms of nutrition as a child.

To learn where your body stands, I believe, is one of the most empowering things you can do for yourself. 

 

My Personal Hormone Tests

 

I did a hormone test May 2013, and was not happily surprised. I had been a health coach for 4 years, I live and breathe this information. I eat a very clean diet, was 27 at the time, shouldn’t that be enough? But sadly, it wasn’t. I needed to do more. I needed to get a clear picture of where my numbers were at to really optimize my body.

My TSH was extremely high, meaning if I never changed anything I would most likely eventually become hypothyroid. My vitamin D was shockingly low, my estrogen & testosterone too high and my progesterone way too low.

So I put myself on a program to balance out each as necessary. As you can see, 7 months later, December 2013, my hormone levels had drastically improved.

 

hormones

 

My thyroid numbers are shifted off to the right because I needed to send in another blood prick (I tried to slide by with as little blood as possible which resulted in having to re-do it). So just slide those thyroid numbers over to the left to compare. The H or L to the right indicates too high or low.

After re-testing, the only hormone level still low was the ratio of progesterone to estrogen, meaning my progesterone could still be higher. I’m also still working on increasing Vit D as optimally it should be around 70-100.

This was a mere 7 months later. You CAN balance your hormones this quickly, I am living proof, if you take it seriously and want to feel your absolute best.

 

The shifts in my body after balancing my hormones: 

 Before I had first day period pain that would leave me cramped up in a ball on the couch, unable to do a thing. I now, 90% of the time, feel NO PAIN. (Our periods are not supposed to be painful.)

 Deep, rejuvenating sleep.

 Quicker, more efficient ability to calm myself down.

 Thicker hair (my friend noticed this one!).

 Less moodiness & anxiety - See my article on how gluten affects me!

 Less sugar cravings.

 More frequent bowels (we really need to be talking about our bowels more often).

 Clearer, more sustainable focus.

 

Seeing where you are, instead of just guessing, not only makes it very clear where you stand, but gives you that much motivation to stay on track. 

If you want to get your levels tested, I offer a full explanation of your labs and what to do to balance YOUR hormones and get your life back where you want it to be, where it was meant to be.

You can check out the details to do so at the bottom of this page. <- Click here!

 

Love & brussels sprouts,

  

  1. Hi Brenna,
    I’ve been told by my Dr. that I have hormone imbalance but no tests were done specifically to test, we just ruled out everything else. I’m really interested in doing the estrogen and progesterone testing, but I have heard that since the levels of those hormones fluctuate every day then it would not be very accurate. Is there a certain time of the month we should test them?
    Thanks.

    • Brenna says:

      Hi Delia,

      The tests that I recommend from canaryclub.org are tested on day 21 of the cycle, day 1 would be the first day of your period. :)

      Brenna

  2. Hi Brenna,
    Thanks so much for this interesting article.
    I have hashimotos so know my hormones must be a bit off but I’m medicated for that. However, I’m now 32 weeeks pregnant and have really struggled with this pregnancy with bleeds, terrible morning sickness and eventually bad anxiety and low mood. I just don’t feel myself atall and am sure it is ‘hormonal’. Is there anything I can do in pregnancy to help balance myself to lift my mood and control my anxiety?
    Many thanks!

    • Brenna Ortner says:

      Hi Emily,

      My advice, if you were a client of mine, for hashimotos is to take out gluten completely. For pregnancy I am very careful with recommending supplements and really only recommend whole food options just to be on the safe side. The BEST mood, anxiety balancing foods are clean fats & proteins. Avocados, chia seeds, pasture raised meat, wild salmon, olives, dark leafy greens, etc.

      Also a really great natural liver cleanser (for the morning sickness) is oil pulling with a raw organic coconut oil. http://wellnessmama.com/7866/oil-pulling-for-oral-health/

      Hope that helps!

  3. Hi Brenna?
    I had a hormone test last month and the results shows that my estrogen level is extremely high. For the past 3 years I have been having unprotected sex but I didn’t fall pregnant. Which food should I include in my diet and supplements to help normalise my estrogen level and fall pregnant.

    Yours truly
    Maria

    • Brenna Ortner says:

      Hi Maria,

      One thing to be aware of when estrogen levels are too high are ‘xenoestrogens’ or fake estrogen in things like toothpaste, deodorant, sunscreen, plastics, etc. Always look for BPA free, reduce canned foods, eat from glass instead of plastic and look for natural alternatives to beauty products (or simply better brands, like Annmarie Gianni skincare).

      http://bit.ly/1yJMZhj

      Also watch your alcohol intake. :) To name a few! Hope that helps.

      Brenna

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