Updated: Jun 22
A whopping 8 in 10 women will experience hormone imbalance issues at some point in their life. This can be seen as a symptom as common (but not normal!) as PMS, or as severe as endometriosis. It’s no wonder this number is so high, as we look at the list of issues that cause hormone imbalances:
The list is endless, but that means as ladies we are all the more aware and motivated to get into balance, and many of us prefer to do that in the most holistic way possible.
Balancing hormones is simply a new and needed health rhythm for the majority of women; one that we need to bring into our daily care and keeping.
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Female Hormone Life Cycle
Hormones go through a bit of a life cycle, if you will:
PRODUCTION: Hormones are made and released from the gland
TRANSPORTATION: Hormones travel through the bloodstream
UPTAKE: Hormones reach its target and deliver its message
METABOLIZATION: Once used, hormones are destroyed by the organ tissue that used them or sent to the liver
DETOXIFICATION: Deactivated hormones are removed by the kidneys through drainage pathways
A common hormone imbalance for women, estrogen dominance, is often caused by an overproduction, or under-detoxed estrogen load. That means that your body may be making too much, or it may be making normal amounts, but your detox pathways are dysfunctional and estrogen essentially can’t get out of circulation effectively. Yikes!
Estrogen dominance makes up the majority of women’s hormone imbalance issues. Some common symptoms and complaints include:
Fatigue and low energy
Heavy or irregular periods
Decreased libido/ sexual desire
Unexplained weight gain
Mood swings, irritability and anxiety
Hormonal headache and acne
I’ll pass on the above list of symptoms, thank-you-very-much, if it’s up to me. So, how do we get those hormones moving and out of the way? Enter, the beautiful system of drainage in our super smart bodies.
Estrogen Detoxification Process
Detoxification is how cells release toxins, but drainage pathways are how they are removed from the blood stream after the cell releases them. Drainage essentially evicts our excess estrogen (ie: do not pass go, do not collect $200). Many women have effective detoxification happening in their bodies, but the hang up is in less-than-optimal drainage.
You can get really technical with detox and drainage (all you hormone nerds can head HERE and HERE). Or, you can simply adopt some supportive daily habits that are good for your health and hormones no matter where you land on the imbalance spectrum. It can take up to 4 months to clear excess estrogen once women begin working on it, although most women experience noticeable relief as soon as 1 week after making changes. So let's get started today!
Estrogen Detox Habits
The 4 easiest estrogen detox habits with the biggest impact:
Eat 35 grams of fiber or more
Poop at least once per day
Eat a small amount of sauerkraut
1. Sweat Everyday with Exercise or Heat
Being someone who does not easily or often sweat is not a good thing! Sweating is a vital part of your detox system and should be encouraged every single day in some form. Get those sweat glands open each day with cardio workouts or heat. Workouts don’t have to be long or strenuous to get your body warm and the sweat moving.
Cardio is actually a powerful estrogen-regulating tool all by itself. Some recent research suggests that 5 hours of aerobic exercise per week dropped estrogen levels by almost 20% in premenopausal women. While that may not be a manageable amount of cardio for many of us, it does let us know that any time we do spend getting our heart rate up can benefit our hormone health.
Alternatively you can heat yourself up to sweating with a sauna or a hot bath (both contraindicated for pregnancy but safe for postpartum!) Kelly and I are huge fans of THIS infrared sauna blanket for it’s many health benefits and convenience, but an incredibly inexpensive and accessible way to sweat is utilizing a detox bath. Certain ingredients can be added to a hot bath that encourage and increase your sweat pathways. You can find starter recipes and full instructions in our free guide HERE.
2. Eat 35 grams of Fiber or More
We are familiar with the liver as the main detoxifier, it literally launders our blood for us (put mine on an extra rinse cycle, please). However, it’s not all up to the liver- once toxins are removed from the blood in the liver they are turned into bile and sent to the kidneys to get their final kick to the curb (urine and feces).
Soluble fiber actually binds itself to bile and helps transport all that hormone waste out of the body. The trick to getting more fiber? Eat a whole food diet and incorporate more plants and whole grains into every meal. Whole foods that are especially high in fiber:
Want even more motivation to help this system along? When your liver is overworked or undernourished the toxins can build up and overflow into the bloodstream to get processed again instead of properly drained, or accumulate in organs that were not meant to detox (causing so many other pesky problems for you). Ew, right?
You can take special care of your estrogen-detoxing liver by eating cruciferous vegetables like:
Along with helpful fiber, these foods also contain a compound called diindolymethane (DIM), a chemoprotective phytochemical which helps reduce high estrogen levels and supports estrogen detox in the liver. You can also boost liver support with herbal options like dandelion + nettle teas.
Here’s the big bonus: a diet plentiful in fiber supports the motility and mobilization of bowel movements too, our next daily detox habit.
3. Poop at least once per day
The colon is your primary detox pathway, the way that waste is meant to easily and regularly leave your body. We do not want to miss colon support in favor or emphasis for any other drainage pathway. When your body is not able to get waste out through regular bowel movements, your whole system is taxed as your bowels back up and put stress on the other drainage systems that they were not meant to carry and cover that "load".
For optimal estrogen detox you need to be pooping at least once a day. If you have a bowel movement more often than that, all the better! As mentioned above, adequate dietary fiber is a great way to support daily bowel movements; and so is:
Adequate water intake (3-4 liters per day)
Digestive enzymes with each meal
Magnesium citrate supplements
Daily exercise of some kind (even gentle walking and stretching)
A probiotic or dietary emphasis on fermented foods, more on that next!
4. Eat a Small Amount of Sauerkraut, or Any Probiotic Rich Foods!
Do you believe us yet that estrogen seriously want to just get the heck out of you? Your body is set up in so many ways to help it do its job and then move on through. Here is how the gut plays its part.
Estrogen is actually partly made and synthesized in the intestinal tract. When gut health is compromised (ie not enough good bacteria or bacterial diversity, or leaky/permeable intestine) the gut bacteria that metabolizes estrogen, estrobolome, is easily disrupted.
The gut microbiome is also responsible for helping to clear excess estrogen. Women with a history or active GI symptoms related to gut health are at higher risk for dysfunction in this area. Some things to watch out for:
Frequent diarrhea and/or constipation
Regular gas, bloating or abdominal discomfort
A high sugar diet, skin irritations or chronic fatigue
These can all point towards a root cause of gut issues. When the gut is functioning healthfully, though, with plenty of diverse bacteria, it produces optimal levels of beta glucuronidase which prevents reabsorption of estrogen, and instead sends excess estrogen out through bowel movements and urination. Yay!
Gut diversity is achieved 2 ways:
By removing offenders to the good bacteria
2. By providing the means to a thriving bacterial environment with pre and probiotics
Sauerkraut and other fermented veggies
Cultured dairy (kefir) and dairy alternatives
Kombucha, water kefir and kvass
Plenty of prebiotic fiber (the fertile soil that helps probiotics thrive) like onion, asparagus, avocado and psyllium husk
What's Next for Holistic Hormone Health?
By now you are starting to see how so many aspects of hormone health overlap, the body is just so cool and wise that way. Our hope is that this information increases your confidence in achieving balance with some pretty simple tools, and all from the comfort and convenience of your home.
As midwives who specialize in holistic women’s health, we get to walk alongside women every day who are learning to understand and work with their bodies on a deeper level. If you find that after reading this blog you want some more support and resources for hormone health, join us on our Free Month Long Hormone Reset.
Our Hormone Reset Program is an email-delivered and thoughtfully paced program to get you confident with the full spectrum of holistic hormone balancing: imbalance assessment and inventory, nutritional and supplement support, endocrine disruptors, herbal and detox tools and everything in between. Now is the time, ladies, to get better control of your hormone health, heal naturally and feel your best!
Although we are licensed midwives by profession, we are not YOUR midwives. All content and information on this website is for informational and educational purposes only, and does not constitute medical advice. Although we strive to provide accurate general information, the information presented here is not a substitute for any kind of professional advice. For more information, click here.