With hormones playing a major part in everything from your sex drive to your sleep cycle, they can really put a damper on your day-to-day life when they’re out of whack.
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Hormones imbalances, which are produced by your ovaries and adrenal glands, are to blame for a variety of disorders. If your life has been turned upside down by PMS or menopausal symptoms, a low libido or sleepless nights, here’s what you can do to help restore balance to your hormones and regain control of your mental and physical health.
Develop a PMS plan of attack.
If the impending arrival of your monthly period leaves you emotionally and physically drained, you’re likely suffering from an imbalance of the hormones estrogen and progesterone that are produced by your ovaries. In some situations, PMS is a sign that your body is producing too much estrogen or not enough progesterone. But in other cases, it’s actually an indicator that your stress levels are too high for your body to handle. “If your stress hormones are stuck on overdrive, then your adrenal glands will get tired of making them so they will swipe progesterone and convert it to cortisol, which is the main stress hormone,” explains Wendy Warner, MD, co-author of the book “Boosting Your Immunity for Dummies,”and founder and director of Medicine in Balance .
How to beat PMS symptoms:
Launch a multipronged plan of attack by focusing on your dietary habits and stress management techniques, and then add natural supplements if necessary. Avoid starchy and sugary foods and load up on veggies instead, advises Dr. Warner. Studies show that cruciferous vegetables in particular, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, and kale, help keep estrogen levels in check. As for stress management, use techniques that go beyond deep breathing to get you into a truly positive emotional state. “Deep breathing takes the edge off if you’re feeling anxious, but it doesn’t end up telling your adrenal glands to stop putting out stress hormones,” notes Dr. Warner. Research shows that meditation, for example, can lower cortisol levels. If a healthier diet and improved stress management aren’t doing the trick, add a chasteberry supplement to your regimen as it’s been shown to ease PMS symptoms, according to Dr. Warner.
Manage menopause with the right diet.
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For some women, menopause brings on a barrage of unpleasant symptoms, such as night sweats and hot flashes, which indicate both decreased levels of estrogen as well as increased levels of stress hormones. “We are told in medical school that hot flashes and night sweats are all about dropping estrogen levels, but it’s actually more about where your stress hormone levels are when your estrogen drops,” says Dr. Warner. For example, research shows that women with moderate to high anxiety experience hot flashes at a much higher rate than women with normal levels of anxiety.
How to beat menopausal symptoms: