Hormonal imbalances are usually related to problems with your endocrine system. This system consists of 8 hormone-producing glands at various locations in your body. Hormones are chemical messengers that communicate with all of your tissues and organs in order to help them function.
You should always talk to your doctor if you suspect that you have a hormonal imbalance. In the meantime, though, there are plenty of simple lifestyle changes that will also help you regulate your endocrine system — and balance your hormones — all on your own.
Important hormonal imbalances
It’s important that you know exactly which hormone imbalance you’re trying to correct before you make any large-scale changes to your lifestyle. This will require a formal diagnosis by a medical professional.
Common hormonal imbalances include:
- Diabetes. This is the most common endocrine disorder in the U.S. You’re born with type 1 diabetes, but you can develop type 2 diabetes throughout your lifetime. Natural lifestyle changes are crucial for regulating type 2 diabetes and levels of the hormone insulin in your body.
- Hypothyroidism. This is when your thyroid produces too few hormones, which affects energy regulation throughout your entire body.
- Hyperthyroidism. This is when your thyroid produces too many hormones.
- Adrenal Insufficiency. This is when your adrenal gland isn’t producing enough hormones, especially cortisol, which is necessary for life.
- Hypogonadism. In males, this is a condition where levels of the sex hormone testosterone are too low. In females the ovaries produce too few sex hormones. This can cause problems with fertility.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome. This is the leading cause of infertility in women of reproductive age. Part of the condition involves problems with two hormones: insulin and testosterone.
Does my weight matter for proper hormonal balance?
If you’re overweight, this is likely a major contributing factor to some types of hormonal imbalance. For example, you’re at a much higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes if you’re overweight or obese. Losing as little as 5% of your body weight can significantly reduce your risk.
The symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome are also much worse if you’re overweight. This condition can make it difficult for women to have children. Losing weight will help increase the frequency of your ovulation and could be the change that allows you to become pregnant.
What are good exercise routines for proper hormonal balance?
In general, regular exercise is key to a healthy lifestyle. Exercising regularly will help you lose weight — or maintain a healthy weight — and can greatly improve hormone imbalances throughout your body.
For example, exercise is a great way to prevent type 2 diabetes. Around 30 minutes of physical activity five times a week is a reasonable target for good health.
Don’t worry if it’s been a little while since the last time you exercised. Be honest with yourself about your body’s abilities and find the exercises that are right for you.
Be sure not to overdo it. Instead, gradually increase the frequency and difficulty of your exercise routine. You may want to talk to a healthcare professional in order to figure out the best exercise routine for your body and hormonal condition.
What are good dietary recommendations for proper hormonal balance?
Your diet can impact pretty much every aspect of your health and bodily functions, so a healthy diet is key to feeling good and keeping your hormones balanced.
To prevent type 2 diabetes, reduce your intake of fats, sugars, and red meats. Eat small portions that incorporate all of the food groups and increase your intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Other hormonal conditions can benefit from natural dietary changes. For example, high-sodium diets can help treat adrenal insufficiency.
Alternatively, you may need to cut down on your iodine intake if you have certain thyroid disorders, including both hyper- and hypothyroidism. Foods like seaweed have high levels of iodine that can complicate these disorders.
What are good medicinal recommendations for proper hormonal balance?
In some cases, medications and other drugs that you take on a regular basis can cause problems with your hormonal balance.
For example, some athletes take anabolic steroids, which consist of artificial versions of the hormone testosterone. Long-term use of these steroids can change how much testosterone your body naturally produces. When you stop taking these steroids, your odds of developing hypogonadism increase because your body no longer makes enough testosterone. In order to keep your hormones properly balanced, it’s best to stop steroid use as soon as possible. Be sure to talk to your doctor when you stop using steroids, though, so they can monitor your body’s hormone levels.
Other common hormonal imbalances might be a direct consequence of medications that you need to treat other conditions. For example, certain medications can lead to hypothyroidism. In these cases, your doctor will need to decide if the medicine is doing more harm than good for your overall health.
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Gynecological Endocrinology: "Treatment strategies for women with polycystic ovary syndrome."
Hormone Health Network: "Low Testosterone (Hypogonadism)."
Medline Plus: "Diabetes," "Endocrine Disorders," "How to Prevent Diabetes."
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: "Adrenal Insufficiency and Addison's disease," "Hyperthyroidism (Overactive Thyroid)," "Hypothyroidism (Underactive Thyroid)."
PLoS One: "Former Abusers of Anabolic Androgenic Steroids Exhibit Decreased Testosterone Levels and Hypogonadal Symptoms Years after Cessation: A Case-Control Study."
University of California San Francisco Health: "Hypogonadism."