How to Balance Your Hormones To Fight Autoimmune Response
In 2016, I was sick and tired of feeling bad, exhausted, and always bloated. My body had given up on me and I was weak, overweight, and fighting two autoimmune issues. Since then, I have been on a 4-year health journey to balance my hormones to fight autoimmune response. Hormone imbalance is the root cause of autoimmune conditions. Hormones in your endocrine system are constantly busy helping keep you healthy, they also regulate your sleep, appetite, and sex drive.
Symptoms of Hormone Imbalance
- Low energy
- Brain fog
- Weight fluctuations
When your hormones are in balance, you have lots of energy, getting a good night’s sleep comes naturally and your weight is in check. If one or more hormones are off-balance, this can leave your vulnerable to chronic stress causing the body to be attacked by autoimmune conditions. Did you know women are three times more likely to develop an autoimmune disorder than men?
Lifestyle Factors that We Can Control
- Unhealthy Food Choices
- Poor Gut Health
- Hormone Imbalance
If you would like to know more about lifestyle factors, check out the book, BEAT Autoimmune by Palmer Kippola.
As we live out our days, we may become bombarded with one or more of the lifestyle factors. The good news is we can control. When hormone imbalances compromise our autoimmunity and take over our lives, one can start to show symptoms. These symptoms are insulin resistance, high cortisol, estrogen dominance, hypothyroidism, low vitamin D, and low DHEA.
The standard American diet is full of sugar. When we eat lots of unhealthy food, our body produces insulin to tell your cells to pick up the sugar for fuel. When we bombard our system with too much sugar, your cells can only respond to so much and begins to store the extra sugar as fat. This makes your body insulin resistant and can give some awful symptoms such as fatigue, craving sweets, weight gain, and high blood pressure.
Some stress is good for your body, but too much starts to mess up your cortisol levels. During this pandemic, our bodies have taken on way too much stress and can begin a downward spiral into a catabolic state, break down your body faster than it can take care of it. Symptoms of high levels of cortisol are anxiety, trouble sleeping, salt and/or sugar cravings.
Chronic stress and artificial estrogen in the environment, commonly found in birth control can cause estrogen dominance. For women, some symptoms of this are migraines, decrease libido, and increased PMS symptoms. In men, symptoms are increased belly fat, loss of muscle mass, erectile dysfunction, and anxiety.
When your metabolism slows down, you may feel tired, sluggish, and cold. 90% of people with hypothyroidism have an autoimmune issued called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which means your immune system attacks your thyroid. When this happens, people tend to gain weight, joint pain, dry skin, hair loss, and brain fog sets in.
Low Vitamin D
Having a low level of vitamin D is linked to cardiovascular disease, cancer, and dementia. Low levels can come from lack of sun exposure, darker skin pigment, over the age of 65, or even having a gene mutation called VDRs. People who have low levels of vitamin D will feel weakness, fatigue, aches, and pains. To remedy this you can get extra sun exposure without sunscreen for 20 minutes a day, take a vitamin D supplement, optimal levels are 50-70 ng/mL.
Levels of DHEA hormone start to decline in your 20s but chronic stress will also be a huge factor for DHEA depletion. When you are stressed, your adrenals work overtime and make cortisol. Your adrenals are responsible for DHEA and cortisol, so when they are overproducing cortisol, your DHEA is depleted. Symptoms of low DHEA are thin skin, low libido, dry skin, and frequent infections.
Ways to Balance Your Hormones
If you suffer from any or all of the symptoms above your body is fighting autoimmune responses. There are ways to balance your hormones so you can fight these responses.
Remove SAD foods from your diet & add in green leafy vegetables
Sugar in the American diet is a big culprit of making our hormones imbalance. Eliminating sugar and processed carbs and sub for green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach, and cruciferous vegetables for increased fiber like broccoli and cauliflower, and sulfur-rich veggies like onion and garlic to flush your liver.
Reduce Alcohol And Caffeine
Alcohol promotes estrogen dominance. Caffeine spikes your insulin production while spiking cortisol levels which can elevate estrogen levels leading to increase risk of breast cancer in females.
Increase Healthy Fats
The media has told us “fat is bad”. In reality, healthy fats are needed for living a healthy life. Saturated fats, Omega-3s, and cholesterol are needed for health Good saturated fats are ghee, lard, and coconut oil. Replace your vegetable oils with these saturated fats. Omega-3 fats that are good for you are flaxseed, nuts, 10% grass-fed meats and wild salmon. Nutritional fats that are a great addition to your diet are avocados, extra virgin oil, nuts, and seeds.
Heal Your Gut
The biggest change I have seen in my overall health is incorporating a pre-biotic and pro-biotic into my daily routine. Fermented foods and increased fiber help balance your microbiome and balance hormones in the body. When this happens, harmony happens. Your body lowers cortisol levels, optimizes thyroid production, increases serotonin happy levels, and gives a boost to your vitamin D levels.
Did you know what you clean within your home, can affect your overall health? Read the labels of your cleaning supplies and throw away any that contain toxins. Little things you can do to improve your home space is swap plastic for glass, filter your drinking water, and eliminate chemicals.
Get Restorative Sleep
Getting 8 hours a sleep a night in a quiet, dark, cool room will help to replenish your sleep. You will feel well-rested, your body will have time to heal so you can take on the day. Getting enough sleep a night will help your body feel full, lower cortisol levels, and stabilize insulin levels.
Move your Body: Get Outside in Nature & Sunshine
Exercise helps balance your hormones. When we move our bodies, we are promoting circulation, increasing serotonin levels making us feel happier, reduce tension and stress in the body. Go for a walk outside, let your bare feet touch the grass to get a sense of grounding.
Reflect and Meditate Daily
Pausing each day for 20 minutes can help focus your mind, body, and soul. Deep breathing, meditation, or even yoga can help you stay grounded and create balance in your life. Time out for some self-care and self-love such as an Epson salt soak can also calm your body.
Think about a Cyclical Keto Diet
For my lifestyle, following a cyclical keto diet allowed my body to heal from the inside out. This consisted of eating healthy fats, grass-fed proteins, and veggies low in carbohydrates. I was able to lower inflammation and stress in my body for optimal healing to take place.
Practice Intermittent Fasting
Three days a week, I intermittent fast to give my gut time to process. Giving my Crohn’s disease time to heal. This has also had a positive effect on my diabetes, making me increase my insulin sensitivity, boosting my metabolism and energy levels. I eat my dinner before 6 each night and don’t eat until lunchtime the next day. When I want to break my fast, I have a cup of coffee with heavy whipping cream and cinnamon.
Optimized Vitamin D Levels
Lastly, I boost my happiness with good old sunshine. My body is light-skinned, so I only need 10-15 minutes of sunshine to help my vitamin D levels. In the winter, I supplement my diet with Vitamine D3 to keep my levels in check.
If you notice you are having a lot of issues with your body and hormones. You may want to journal to see what is going on. Then, see How to Balance Your Hormones to Fight Autoimmune Response to help you feel happier and healthier.