How To Navigate Hormonal Imbalances
How To Navigate Hormonal Imbalances

How To Navigate Hormonal Imbalances

Whether you’re trying to get pregnant or navigating the rollercoaster ride of perimenopause, we all go through hormonal ups and downs throughout our lives. To help you navigate the inevitable changes and keep everything in check, Lucy Miller has shared some essential strategies…
By Lucy Miller

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What Hormones Are…

Hormones are your body’s chemical messengers that allow communication between different parts of the body. Dr Terry Loong, integrative aesthetic & hormone doctor for The Organic Pharmacy explains that hormone levels naturally fluctuate through life stages. The goal is to keep these fluctuations within a healthy range as even the tiniest of changes can have a significant impact on the whole body.

What Causes Imbalances & What To Look Out For…

Dr. Terry points out that hormone imbalances can occur at any point in one's life, often due to inflammation caused by environmental pollutants, digestive problems or the stresses of modern living. Additionally, she notes that inadequate nutrition, blood sugar dysregulation from binge-eating or extreme dieting, ongoing stress, and insufficient sleep are also contributing factors. There’s also a broad range of symptoms such as weight gain, mood swings, fatigue, skin issues, acne, anxiety, irritability, aches and pains, increased sugar cravings and menstrual changes, that may indicate an imbalance.


What causes imbalances at this stage?

Trying to get pregnant should be an exciting time, but it can often be clouded by worry and anxiety. Excessive stress can impact ovulation, so it’s important to find ways to calm the nervous system if you are trying to conceive.

One of the most common signs of hormone imbalance in the reproductive years is PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome). Hannah Alderson, a registered nutritionist and hormone specialist, explains that it is a condition characterised by the over-production of male hormones, irregular menstrual cycles and cysts on the ovaries. This can result in issues with ovulation and fertility.

Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes can both be hormone disruptors. Excess body fat, especially around the belly can lead to higher levels of certain hormones such as oestrogen and insulin. This can mess with your menstrual cycle, making ovulation unpredictable. Type 2 Diabetes makes the body resistant to insulin and this can cause high blood sugar levels resulting in hormonal imbalance and leading to issues with ovulation and can complicate the journey to conception.

Environmental toxins can also influence reproductive health. This can be anything from cleaning products, to fragrances, beauty products and skincare. It can also be from herbicides and pesticides used in farming that might be on your fruit and veg.

Lifestyle changes & interventions that can help:

Hannah recommends focussing on diet, in particular blood sugar regulation, high antioxidant rich foods and maximising anti-inflammatory foods and minimising ultra-processed food. So, consume plenty of lean protein such as chicken, salmon and eggs and for antioxidants and fibre, enjoy a wide variety of vegetables, wholegrains and some fruit.

Maintaining a healthy weight, good gut health, exercise and reducing exposure to toxins in plastics and products is key. To help to avoid these hormone disrupting chemicals, try to buy organic produce and wash your fruit and veg well. Choose products that don’t contain fragrances and avoid storing or cooking foods in plastic. Also choose brands of cleaning products what don’t use harmful chemicals, such as Kit & Kin or Purdy & Fig.

Hannah says to think about supporting the vaginal microbiome through a balanced diet and plenty of water and exercise. You could also add a specific probiotic, such as Optibac Intimate Flora for Women.

It’s a time to really look after yourself and de-stressing is key. Start with getting good sleep and find time to take up something that will help to calm the nervous system such as meditation, breathwork or yoga.

Ross Barr, an expert in fertility and women’s health and a registered acupuncturist, says that acupuncture has become increasingly popular for supporting fertility. This ancient practice works on many levels and is brilliant for promoting blood flow and invigorating the organs to help support hormone balance. It can also alter our internal state, thereby reducing the production of stress hormones that could otherwise interfere with fertility.

It's wise to look into supplements that can address potential nutrient deficiencies, such as Nutri-Advanced Multi Essentials for Pregnancy. Omega 3 supplements are also beneficial as they supply fatty acids for hormone production as well as the cognitive development of the foetus. Bare Biology Mums & Bumps is a good option for this.


What causes imbalances at this stage?

Perimenopause is the time leading up to menopause and hormones hugely fluctuate during this time. It is when there is a decreased egg reserve and there is declining ovarian function. This can often cause the onset of menopause symptoms such as changes to your cycle, hot flashes, sleep disturbance, mood swings, heart palpitations, feeling ‘flat’, fatigue, migraines, aching joints, weight gain and so the list goes on! Menopause then follows when the eggs are no longer released and the production of hormones in the ovaries significantly slows.

Lifestyle changes & interventions that can help:

During perimenopause, hormonal changes can influence our metabolism and fat distribution. It's essential to adapt our nutrition accordingly. Emma Bardwell, a leading menopause nutritionist, stresses the importance of including key nutrients to support hormone health. Her advice is to eat more plants, especially cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and kale, to detoxify hormones and lower post-menopausal disease risks. Ensuring adequate caloric intake is crucial, as insufficient energy can impair hormone production. B vitamins, which are depleted by stress, should be maintained with a Women's Multi or B Complex supplement. Healthy fats are also vital, so include oily fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, or consider a fish oil or algae oil supplement.

Emma emphasises the importance of 'rest and recovery,', noting that sleep regulates appetite hormones and curbs cravings. Resistance training is key for managing blood sugar and building muscle. She suggests engaging in enjoyable activities like walking, swimming, tennis, or Zumba to reduce stress and balance hormones.

You might want to consider some tests. Your GP can test your ferritin (iron), blood sugar, vitamin D, folate, B12 and thyroid function. All of these are at risk of being low or imbalanced at this time of life. If your symptoms are starting to impact your life, Emma advises that you talk to your GP about hormone therapy.

There are menopause specific supplements that can have a positive impact on symptoms, depending on the individual. MPowder leads the way with Peri-Boost and Meno-Boost, two daily powders that are uniquely formulated to support your body through perimenopause and menopause.  And The Organic Pharmacy has a ‘Menopause Tincture’ – a herbal concoction to help boost energy, balance hormones and support adrenals and immunity. Both can be taken with or without HRT.

For skincare, the options are endless, but be aware that skin can become a lot more sensitive during this period and may react to more active ingredients. There is a lovely new range of skincare products called ‘Made of More’, designed to help tackle the rollercoaster ride of dermatological symptoms associated with fluctuating hormones. The Rescue Balm for Hormonal Skin helps to soothe and repair any over sensitive skin.

My advice would be to think of the whole picture. It’s never just about one particular food, supplement or skincare solution. It is a multifaceted approach that requires taking control and making adjustments to help support the hormonal shift that each life stage brings.

For more nutrition & wellness tips, follow @LucyMillerNutrition

DISCLAIMER: Features published by SheerLuxe are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programme.

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