By Meghan MacKinnon, ND
Naturopathic Doctor | Aurora & Markham
An imbalance in hormones can keep us from losing weight, shift body fat to accumulate around the waist-line and cause problems with moods, energy and of course, menstrual irregularities. Estrogen and progesterone fluctuate with a woman’s menstrual cycle- estrogen higher in the first half of the cycle and progesterone in the second. An imbalance between these two hormones can lead most commonly to estrogen dominance, estrogen deficiency (as seen in menopause),or progesterone deficiency. The tricky this is that these hormones are intimately connected and sometimes a progesterone deficiency can cause what looks like an estrogen excess, which is why it’s important to evaluate all of the symptoms you are experiencing to identify your overall hormone pattern. Lab tests can be used to further identify which hormones may need extra support, so that you can come up with the best hormone action plan to get you feeling like yourself again. Although blood work can be valuable for some conditions, sometimes extra information is required. Other options for testing include looking at your estrogen metabolism ratio to identify the balance of “bad vs. good” estrogen in your body or by measuring saliva hormone levels over one month (11 samples) or over one day to get a clear picture of what is happening on a functional level.
Other hormones that may be involved in weight gain and hormone balance are cortisol, (a stress hormone), DHEA (precursor to testosterone) , low thyroid hormone and high insulin which is associated with poor blood sugar control. Often when there is an imbalance in one hormone it can lead to other imbalances, so part of the detective work is figuring out which hormones are at the root of your concerns.
Restoring Hormone Balance
The first step to restoring your hormone balance is to identify your hormone pattern and to get a clear picture on where to initiate treatment. Here are some simple things you can do to restore hormone balance.
Xenoestrogens: These are estrogen or estrogen-like compounds which we get from our environment. These can be found in personal care products in the form of phthalates, in plastics as Bisphenyl A (BPA) or as PCBs which are also found in things like pesticides and used in many other industries. Reducing our exposure to these substances and never heating plastic can help with hormone balance and weight gain.
Lignans: These have been shown to promote a shift from the “bad” estrogen to the more beneficial estrogen and to increase estrogen binding which decreases free floating hormones. A good source of lignans can be obtained by having 2 tablespoons of ground flax seeds/ day.
Improve Digestive Health: If digestion isn’t optimal it can cause poor excretion of estrogens which can lead to a ‘hormone back-up’ causing a relative excess. Having a high fibre diet and ensuring that you have the proper balance of healthy bacteria in your digestive tract are essential to digestion as it relates to hormone health.
Brassica Vegetables: Veggies from the brassica family like broccoli, bok choy, kale, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts are all high in indole-3 carbinol which affects hormone metabolism by promoting detoxification through the liver. These all are also a great source of fibre.
Stress Management: When we are under stress, our body makes cortisol instead of making our sex hormones and can affect thyroid hormone production. This can shift the overall hormone balance so that we are low in many hormones and is often at the root of many hormonal concerns. Check out the video below by a naturopathic doctor who explains this phenomenon in more detail.
For more information on the Saliva Hormone Testing and Estrogen Metabolism Ratio testing visit Rocky Mountain Analytical or call one of my clinics to set up a free 15 minute consultation.