Natural ways to feel better inside and out
As a naturopath, I meet with patients who want to feel good and look good too. And the great news is, what’s happening on the outside is a direct reflection of what is occurring on a cellular and hormonal level on the inside. My patients are interested in living the healthiest lives they possibly can, and want to do it as naturally as possible. They want overall vitality, to sleep well and fend off illness – and they want to actually experience hormonal harmony.
Hormone health is so intimately connected to your innermost and outermost beauty. Many women don’t know that out-of-balance hormones can manifest in poor sleep, stubborn weight gain, and zapped energy. It can also lead to dry skin and hair, bags under your eyes, and a puffy face. So getting a woman’s hormones in balance can have a big impact on her overall health – but it also has a positive change on how attractive she feels.
For the purposes of developing your own personal beauty regimen then, let’s talk about two hormones at the center of it all: estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen is friend and foe, too little and we have dry, sagging skin, and our moods go south; too much and we can be bloated and irritable. Progesterone is our steadfast friend. When your progesterone levels are balanced with your estrogen, you sail through hormonal cycles, you’ve got energy, and you aren’t bogged down with PMS, bloating, fatigue, and draining, heavy periods. So how can you optimize your estrogen and progesterone levels? There are some foods you want to add in – and some you definitely want to take out.
What to avoid
Anything that interferes with healthy ovulation and liver detoxification of estrogen can cause hormonal havoc. So watch out for:
- Heavy, greasy fatty foods
- Fast foods that are full of chemicals, calories, and sugar, but short on nutrition
- Non-organic foods that may have higher levels of xenoestrogens (aka estrogen-mimicking chemicals that could interfere with healthy liver detox of estrogen)
We all know that this stuff is bad – but for the sake of your own beauty and hormone health, let me tell you exactly why these foods take more away from you than what they give.
The last category in particular – foods containing xenoestrogens – can yield higher levels of estrogen compared to progesterone, resulting in a body state called “estrogen dominance.” Xenoestrogens are found in BPA-containing plastic, as well as in beef that may contain estrogen residues. Yikes.
There are also a few non-food items you should consider hitting the “delete” button on, such as makeup, skincare, and sexual wellness products containing methylparabens. So read the label next time you buy beauty products, which may be sabotaging your beauty after all.
What to incorporate
Now that you’ve cleaned up your diet and beauty products, let’s talk about the nourishing stuff your body loves. Here are foods and supplements designed to support balanced hormone levels of estrogen and progesterone:
- An organic diet consisting of lean protein sources (fish, eggs, skinless poultry)
- Organic veggies (lots!)
- Leafy greens
- Whole grains
These foods all support healthy ovulation. I also highly recommend:
- The supplement chaste berry to support healthy ovulation
- Adrenal-supportive herbs like ginseng to mitigate stress (which can have an adverse effect on ovulation)
After putting yourself on this “beauty regimen,” you’ll begin to notice more energy, healthy weight maintenance, as well as even blood sugar levels, menstrual cycles, and PMS symptoms that – blessedly – begin to diminish. Here’s to optimized hormone levels, and feeling beautiful from the inside out!
Naturopathic physician and licensed acupuncturist practicing in Hawaii since 1993, Dr. Laurie Steelsmith is author of Great Sex, Naturally and Natural Choices for Women's Health.