I used to be a burned-out doctor, unavailable mom, and distant wife that struggled with anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, food sensitivities, GI issues, skin rashes, and really bad PMS. As a trained physician, I knew my hormones were out of balance, but I was unsure of how to address the root cause of the issue. As the patient, I was told I was physically “normal,” and that my labs were “within range.” Not satisfied with that answer, I decided to search for a new approach to healing.
Hormones don’t just affect your physical health, they affect your mental and emotional health as well. The path to healing truly starts when you start asking, “Why?” Why do you feel lousy or out of balance? When you figure out what creates the imbalances – and treat the underlying issue – you find a true solution. Functional Medicine seeks to do just that – facilitating the diagnosis and treatment process and helping to identify and treat the underlying causes.
Reality is, most of us are living life completely out of balance. Unfortunately, after time, we come to accept the symptoms of imbalance as “normal.”
Because various hormones allow communication from one organ or region of the body to another, they enable appropriate responses to stress and keep the body in a homeostatic balance. For example, when your body responds to stress, a hormone in the brain (ACTH) triggers cortisol production in the adrenal gland. The cortisol then feeds back to the brain to slow down the production when the stress has subsided. It sounds like a simple process, however, our bodies produce many hormones and each hormone reacts with the others, which can create shifts that can be challenging to balance.
Hormones in our body can be compared to that of a symphony orchestra. When all players are hitting the right notes and playing cohesively, the result is beautiful harmony. However, if any one part is out of sync, the result is chaotic. Hormones work in the same way.
Treating Hormonal Imbalances
When evaluating and treating hormone imbalances, there is an order of priority which starts with the adrenal glands, followed by the thyroid gland, and finally sex hormones. By testing properly, we identify the root cause and seek to restore function to the whole system. Our bodies are complex – there are many strategies to help balance your hormones, and depending on the root cause of your issues, we may try some or all of them.
Incorporating the Right Diet – Usually, when a patient comes to us experiencing a hormonal imbalance, our first step involves incorporating the right diet. We always suggest removing foods that can cause imbalances in your hormones – things like sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and even dairy and gluten. If you eat sugar, you’ll produce more insulin, estrogen and testosterone. Dairy and gluten are often triggers for inflammation and hormonal imbalances. Environmental chemicals like pesticides in our food can act like a powerful hormone disruptor and trigger our hormones to go out of balance as well.
Our best piece of advice? Replace these hormone disruptors with whole foods – real, unprocessed, organic and even plant-based foods with organic or sustainably-raised animal products. Focusing on whole food nutrition minimizes your intake of xenoestrogens, hormones and antibiotics.
Supplement Wisely – You may also need to complement your diet with a vitamin or mineral supplement. Fish oil, vitamin D and B supplements, probiotics, antioxidants and phytonutrients, and the anti-inflammatory omega-6 fat can all help to balance out your hormones. Take these in addition to a good multi vitamin and mineral with sufficient calcium and magnesium.
Improve Sleep – Insufficient sleep can adversely affect PMS, menopause and other conditions. Getting into a nightly bedtime routine and consistently getting at least 8 hours of sleep is one of the best things you can do to balance hormone levels. It helps to turn off all electronics about an hour before you go to bed, and we love to enjoy a good cup of herbal tea to help us relax and get into the mindset of sleep.
Reduce Stress – Stress is not only bad for you emotionally, it can also wreak havoc on your body physically. Chronic stress can cause inflammation, illness and trigger hormonal imbalances. The key to managing stress comes in finding something that works for you to relieve some of that stress. We often suggest incorporating some form of meditation or exercise into your daily routine – like yoga, hiking, deep breathing exercises, and our favorite, MovNat.
15 Weeks to Wellness Program
It’s time to start investing in a better YOU. Consider joining our 15 Weeks Back to Wellness program and start the journey to becoming the person you dream of being!
Some things you can look forward to in this program include:
A 90-minute virtual or in-person conversation to discover the root cause of your issue.
A healing plan specifically catered to your worries and needs.
A physician and friend who listens to your problems and provides solutions based on your concerns.
Stop waiting! Start investing in your future wellness today – book your virtual or in-person appointment by calling (270) 398-8898 or clicking this link.