My journey into natural health began because I struggled with PCOS and was told at an early age that I would probably need help conceiving. I distinctly remember hearing that at 15 years old, and the only thing I knew I wanted for my adulthood was to be a mom. I did have trouble getting and staying pregnant, for awhile.
At a point in my adulthood journey I started reading about how diet, exercise, environmental toxins, and even emotions can wreak havoc on our hormones. In the United States, infertility is actually becoming quite an epidemic and has a very high price tag when undergoing medical intervention. I don’t know about you, but for me medical intervention did not feel right, I felt there was a “why” and a “how” right before my eyes. I just had to find it out for myself. I am glad I did, because I have found success and health, and have watched many other couples do the same.
It is possible to create an optimal environment for conception, restore both male and female fertility, or just age gracefully by taking a few simple steps to cleanse and nourish your body.
Managing our Chemical Load
Many variables have to be in aligment for proper hormone balance. The first thing I suggest doing is taking a look at your environment and assessing your toxic load. This is part of life that we do not have complete control over, however we can minimize the exposure in our homes.
Petrochemicals in our environment are often a huge culprit in hormone imbalance. They mimic estrogen, even in men, who do not naturally produce estrogen. Estrogen dominance can create problems in females releasing eggs, or if eggs do release and fertilize, may have difficulty attaching to the uterine lining. Men can suffer from impotence, mood swings, and many other ailments.
So, assessing and cleaning out our homes and replacing with products that contain the least amount of chemicals possible is desirable. Toothpastes, shampoos, lotions, make-up, cleaning products, etc. all can be major hormone disruptors. Our skin is our largest organ, and will absorb anything and everything that we put on. Learning to read labels and being wary of words like “fragrance”, which actually means chemical cocktail!
Food as Medicine
Our diets are also cause for concern. In previous blogs, I have shared the most successful dietary protocol for my body. It is really important to realize that factory farmed meats, artificial flavors and colors, as well as foods that contain phytoestrogens (soy) can be damaging for our delicate hormonal balance. Sticking to a whole food diet, eating humanely farmed meats, removing grains and sugar typically do a world of good.
It is also nearly impossible to meet all of our nutritional requirements from diet alone. Even the “perfect” diet can spark some questions. What was the length of time the food traveled to get to your plate? How was it grown or processed? What do you clean your fruits and veggies with?
High quality, whole food nutritional supplements can help us meet our nutritional requirements. Whole food supplements of the highest quality are necessary so that our bodies can actually absorb and assimilate the nutrients from the supplement. Common supplements that you pick up at big box stores are from synthetic sources, so our body immediately works to eliminate them or can have a toxic response trying to process the vitamin.
In natural health, it is found that women who suffer from hormonal imbalance tend to have problems with their bowel and liver functions. When our bowels are stagnant, or the liver is not performing optimally, the toxins our body would prefer to release are sent directly to the sex organs. Cleansing is a way to “flush the pipes”, so to speak.
Following a gentle cleansing protocol can reset the system to prepare for a pregnancy. Following these steps typically take about 3-4 months for hormones to begin to regulate, however each individual is different depending on toxicity and gut/colon health. For gut cleansing, I prefer 4 specific types of supplements.
An herbal cleansing supplement is the first thing I use and recommend. This gets the digestive system moving. Even if you are “regular” it does not mean that you are actually actively releasing the excess hormones. A multi-complex digestive enzyme is also key. Most people do not have adequate enzyme activity in the gut to actually break down and assimilate all of the food that is consumed.
The supplement will replenish the digestive enzymes and help the body stay at an adequate level. A fiber supplement is also helpful and will bind free estrogen in the system and allow it to pass. And a high-quality probiotic will feed the good bacteria and allow the microbiome and immune system to flourish.
Cleansing the gut allows the toxins to release from the body, and healing to occur. Following the dietary recommendations will speed up the healing process. I also like to use the collagen HA supplement I mentioned in a previous post, since it truly helps to close the seal on “leaky gut“, which so many of us with autoimmune conditions suffer from.
Love Your Liver
The liver controls many, many functions in our bodies. Saving and supporting your liver is also a key to hormonal health. The liver is the major filtering organ of the body. It is known that impaired liver enzymes are cause of recurrent miscarriages, and that most estrogen metabolism takes place in the liver. Once the colon has been cleansed, the liver can do a better job releasing and removing the toxins from our bodies.
A healthy body weight is important for a healthy liver, as is limiting chemical exposure. Dietary choices have been the key for my liver health. Removing sugars, grains and getting most of my carbs from vegetables has been the best way to support my liver. Making these changes have helped me release inflammation, belly fat, and pain that I carried in the upper, right portion of my abdomen.
Moderate exercise is also very helpful. Just a 15 minute walk per day can keep the flow and release going in the area of the liver. If we are stagnant, our organs become stagnant. There are also some very nice supplements and essential oils that will support healthy liver function.
Stress and Exercise
Another hormone killer is chronic stress. The stress hormone cortisol is often referred to as the “death hormone”. Why? High cortisol levels changes our blood sugar levels, slow digestion, changes cardiac function, lowers immunity, increases inflammation, decreases thyroid, among many other things.
We have this hormone to protect us in times of danger, but chronic stress leaves us living in this state much of the time. The autonomic nervous system controls our stress/relaxation response, and can be addressed and nourished in several ways.
Yoga and mindfulness exercises can work wonders in reducing chronic stress. Our breath is powerful in rewiring our stress response and something as simple as taking slow, rhythmic, deep breaths can massage our organs and reduce our cortisol levels.
Since this post is so wordy, I will save a few mindfulness exercises for a future post.
I am also aware that I have shared a lot of information in one post. I am always happy to elaborate or point you to more resources that may be best for you– so feel free to leave a comment or contact me directly if this info sparks any questions.