8 Ways to Balance Your Hormones (and boost your fertility in a natural way)
1. Omega 3 and Omega 6
Balance your intake of Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fats… a mother’s diet has changed drastically in the last 100 years. Since the Industrial Revolution and the advent of modern farming, our consumption of vegetable oils has gone through the roof. And with that upturn, fertility has decreased. So why?
Inflammation from dietary sources has been linked to increased rates of heart disease, diabetes, leaky gut syndrome, obesity, stress and depression. When stress from cortisol increases and bodily processes suffer from aggravating levels of acidity in the stomach, the body can’t maintain a fertile state.
The hormones in the gut and the rest of the body have gone haywire. How can we boost fertility back up? Eat more omega-3s and cut down on omega-6. Diets high in omega-6 fats are inflammatory, whereas diets balanced with omega-3 fats are not. Research has shown that our typical ratios of omega-6 to omega-3 can be as high as 25:1, 15:1 and 10:1. Dangerous.
The healthy ratio our ‘hunter-gatherer’ ancestors maintained was 1:1. And our predecessors had none of the inflammatory health issues we do today.
So to boost fertility, avoid these omega-6 foods:
- Corn oil
- Canola oil
- Soybean oil
- Peanut oil
- Cottonseed oil
- Sunflower oil
- Fried foods (cooked in these oils)
- Baked dairy goods
Instead, add these omega-3 rich foods:
- Wild, saltwater fish
- Chia seeds
- Grass-fed animal products
- Fish oil supplements (mercury-free)
2. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is not just a vitamin, but in fact a hormone, responsible for keeping inflammation levels low and synthesizing with sunlight to prevent depression, vitamin D is something many us don’t get enough of.
The Center for Disease Control has reported that at least 30% of the US population is vitamin D deficient. And if you’re having difficulty with conception, low levels of this key hormone may be to blame. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition recently reported that vitamin D3 is essential for fertility health because it affects the adaptive immune system, the innate immune system, insulin secretion by the pancreatic β cell, multifactorial heart functioning and blood pressure regulation, and brain and fetal development. (whew).
Sunshine: giving your body a healthy helping of full spectrum sunlight can help stabilize hormones. Get out and take a walk around the block a couple of times a week. This will help get you the exercise you need, as well as the sunshine your body craves.
If the insulin system is dysfunctional, the body’s inflammatory response is heightened and sits on a state of high alert. This prevents fertility conditions from occurring. The CDC cites the low levels of daily sunlight most Americans receive as the cause for this. You can remedy vitamin D deficiency easily. Just enjoy 20 minutes a day of unblocked sunlight or consider a vitamin D3 supplement
Exercise is a crucial component in boosting fertility. Motherhood blog Pregnant Chicken makes light of this need in a clever way:
First Pregnancy: You complete pregnancy-safe workouts at least three times per week. Second Pregnancy: Chasing around your toddler and walking the dog = exercise complete. Yes, you need to move around regularly to boost your chances of pregnancy.
A study by the University of North Carolina showed that women who were most active prior to fertility pharmacy treatments were 3x more likely to conceive as those who were not active.
What exercise is best? Well, any exercise is good – even if it is just doing the housework, or walking the dog.
Exercise is a body normalizer – it balances the functions of the organs and keeps the hormones humming along nicely. Exercise also reduces anxiety, encourages quality sleep, curbs insulin levels and alleviates depression.
4. Eat the right Fats
Don’t ignore all fats. Our bodies need a variety of healthy fats to keep hormones balanced. Without fats as the building blocks, hormone production stalls and the body begins to malfunction. When our diet is lacking fatty acids, the body fails to absorb certain key vitamins and minerals for hormone production as well.
Foods to avoid during pregnancy for women who are having trouble conceiving include those that are high in trans fats. Trans fats have been linked to the development of endometriosis which is one of the most common causes of infertility among women.
Stay away from fried foods, margarine and certain types of chips and crackers.
There are good fats that you’ll want to load up on and you can find them in foods like tuna and salmon. ‘A pregnancy diet should have you increasing your calorie intake by about 300 calories per day’. This means eating saturated fats and cholesterol to get those short, medium and long-chain fatty acids.
Enjoy plenty of fatty saltwater fish, coconut oil, avocados and grass-fed butter – all are amazing sources of essential fatty acids. Healthy fats also benefit you by keeping inflammation levels low, boosting the metabolism and increasing satiety.
An effective, proven relaxation habit that’s guaranteed to boost fertility. Because meditation breaks the daily cycle of stress, it curbs cortisol, the stress hormone directly tied to prohibiting fertility capabilities. When we meditate, soothing brainwaves are increased and our innermost selves have a chance to unwind.
The process of sitting with yourself, free of distraction and expectations, allows your true priorities to emerge. Childbirth.After meditation for a couple of weeks, you’ll be less anxious, more in touch with your body and better aligned for a pregnancy.
Acupuncture is incredibly effective at correcting hormone imbalances in the body. In these days many things will happen: Stress hormones responsible for infertility will decrease. Blood flow to the uterus will increase, a key marker of fertility.
The hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis will normalize, essential to fertility. Check my post on acupuncture.
Many people sleep less than 6 hours a night, and if you are one of these people, and you’re trying to get pregnant – please, just sleep on a bit more. You could be sleep deficient, which is not helping matters. Insufficient sleep wreaks havoc on your hormones. It is while we sleep that our bodies repair cells and regulate fertility hormones such as progesterone, estrogen, luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone.
One especially crucial fertility hormone is leptin which directly affects ovulation. Women need adequate sleep for proper leptin production. If leptin is disrupted, menstrual cycles are disrupted. Poor sleep also causes cortisol to spike the next day which results in anxiety, excess inflammation, and high levels of insulin, all decreasing optimal conditions for pregnancy.
Also limit your Caffeine intake. It’s been shown that stimulants, such as caffeine, cause the adrenal gland to over-produce hormones. Try to cut-down or cut-out your caffeine intake.
If you’re trying to conceive, shoot for at least 7-10 hours of sleep a night.
To be at your most fertile, treat your body like a temple. This means correcting hormone imbalances through the everyday choices surrounding diet, exercise, sleep and relaxation. You should aim to keep stressful cortisol levels low through meditation, acupuncture, and exercise. These activities will also prohibit inflammation in the body and keep you feeling great. Eat a diet rich in healthy fats to ensure quality nutrition, but also reduce inflammatory stress responses in the body. Part of this is to eat a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fats, avoiding processed carbs and trans fats especially.
If you’re looking forward to a pregnancy, simply make your health a priority practice – and wait for the good news!
To learn more about getting pregnant naturally, check out this proven pregnancy guide.