Step 1 – Nutrition
•Avoid non-organic meat and dairy. Meat and dairy raised with hormones and antibiotics can affect your hormone metabolism.
•Eat more good fats. Good fats from healthy oils (such as olive, walnut, grapeseed, avocado), nuts (such as walnut, almond, pecans, Brazil), and fish are necessary for the production of our hormones. Avoiding intake of these good fats can be detrimental to your health, especially when it comes to hormone balance.
•Buy organic for the “dirty dozen” on your produce list. Pesticides may interfere with normal metabolism and regulation of hormones.
•Avoid sodas (diet and regular). Artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, and excessive caffeine can also contribute to symptoms of hormone imbalance and work against optimal metabolism.
•Avoid caffeine. Caffeine increases hot flashes, decreases absorption of minerals such as calcium and magnesium which are important components of metabolism and bone health, and increases the production of stress hormones.
•Eat whole foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, legumes, lean cuts of meat, chicken, and fish. Avoid processed foods whenever possible. Eating poorly can contribute to weight gain that is often experienced along with age-related decrease in hormones.
Step 2 – Get Enough Sleep
Adequate sleep is essential for hormone balance. Allow at least 7-8 hours or enough sleep so that you feel rested in the morning. Insomnia caused by night sweats is a common symptom of menopause which can be a “catch-22” in that menopause is causing insomnia which is making the hormone imbalance even worse. If you suffer from chronic insomnia, read more about sleep.
Step 3 – Make time for Relaxation
Stress is one of the biggest disrupters of hormone balance. Stress triggers the body to release stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline which wreak havoc on the body. Activation of the stress hormones also disrupts the reproductive hormones, mimicking or exacerbating the symptoms of menopause or low testosterone. It is so important to have relaxation techniques that counteract the stress response, such as reading, listening to music, prayer, meditation, progressive relaxation, controlled breathing or relaxing forms of exercise such as yoga or Tai Chi.
Step 4 – Try Supplements, or Herbs
- Take 2,000-4,000 mg of good quality Omega-3 fish oil supplement.
Take a good quality multivitamin with calcium and minerals.
- Get your Vitamin D (25-OH Vitamin D) level checked. Take a Vitamin D3 supplement for a goal level of 50-70. If you do not get your level checked, a good dose to start with is Vitamin D3 2,000 IU daily.
- Herbs: Women can try an herbal combination of black cohash, dong quai, wild yam and other herbs such as Xymogen MenoFem. For men, an herbal combination such as Xymogen Testoplex can also help with symptoms of low testosterone.
Step 5 – Exercise
Exercise has been shown to be very effective to reduce hot flashes. Exercise can also help improve energy levels and mood. Exercise at least 30 minutes 5 days per week and include cardio, strength training, and flexibility. Consider working with a personal trainer. Make sure to avoid exercise right before bedtime since it can interfere with sleep.
Step 6 – Rule out other causes
If your symptoms are still not improved, get blood tests to rule-out other causes of your symptoms. I usually check a complete blood count (CBC), iron stores (Ferritin), Vitamin D level (25-OH Vitamin D), thyroid hormones (TSH, free T4, and free T3), and a complete metabolic panel (CMP).
Step 7 – ADAM or EVE checklist
Check your symptoms on a hormone balance (EVE for women and ADAM for men) questionnaire to see if it fits a pattern of hormone imbalance.
Step 8 – Get your hormones checked
The saliva test is currently the best test to evaluate reproductive and stress hormones. I usually check estradiol, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, and cortisol.
Step 9 – Consider B-HRT
If hormone levels are not normal, consider trying a bio-identical hormone (B-HRT) cream formulated individually for you by a compound pharmacist. It is very important to be monitored and followed by your doctor.
Step 10 – Monitor symptoms
Monitor any changes in your symptoms and make sure to have hormones rechecked periodically.