These days it seems that everyone knows someone who suffers from imbalanced hormones. Conditions such as PMS, irregular or no periods, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis and infertility are so common these days, as is bloating, fluid retention, weight gain and period pain. You can balance your hormones naturally through lifestyle changes and specific foods, nutrients and herbs. You can’t balance your hormones overnight but even small changes implemented over a long period of time will see your symptoms improve.
I have mixed views on your morning coffee. For some people, I think one good cup of organic coffee a couple of times a week is perfectly reasonable, whereas others need to avoid it completely. If you suffer from PMS, period pain or any hormonal imbalances then it is best to avoid coffee. In a nutshell, here’s why:
Instead of your morning coffee try a dandelion, chai or a good old green tea. Even decaffeinated coffee can disrupt your hormones as apart from the caffeine, there are other alkaloids that can cause issues. If you do want to drink decaf, go for an organic brand that decaffeinates using water and not chemical solvents. Toby’s Estate does a great decaf blend. If you must have coffee, have one good cup a week. Sip it slowly and enjoy every second!
Eliminate sugar from your diet as much as possible
Sugar encourages weight (fat) gain, and fat cells manufacture oestrogen, creating an oestrogen overload in your body. A high sugar diet also contributes towards inflammation in the body (which can cause those highly undesirable symptoms of PMS and worsen sugar cravings), dampens the immune system (some research shows endometriosis is linked to immune dysfunction) and leeches important nutrients from your body (such as B vitamins – crucial for happy hormones, happy mood, happy weight balance, happy digestion, among other things!)
These are foods that contain natural oestrogen-like substances and can have a significant hormone-balancing effect on a woman’s body. Try have 1-3 servings of phytoestrogens each day. These include miso, tempeh (check that miso/tempeh is organic, non-GMO and isolate free) kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas, licorice (not the confectionary – try the tea or chew the root), flaxseed oil or flaxmeal, sesame and sunflower seeds, alfalfa, celery, citrus fruits, hops, oats, runner beans, mung beans, beansprouts, rye bread (try a sourdough rye), hazelnuts, peanuts, sage, fennel and parsley. Phytoestrogens reduce the toxic oestrogens in your body and stimulate your liver to produce sex-hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), which controls how much oestrogen and testosterone circulates in your blood.
Look after your gut
Many symptoms of female hormonal imbalances, such as anxiety, depression, fatigue, achy joints, fluid retention, weight gain, bloating, sugar cravings and irritability, can be attributed to digestive issues. Hormones are made by the body using amino acids (or proteins) taken from the food we eat. The gut is one of our major endocrine glands, producing many hormones that affect our sleep, mood, appetite, digestion, energy and reproductive health. If you supply your body with sugary, refined, processed and calorie-dense, nutrient-deficient foods then your low mood, fatigue, anxiety and insomnia makes perfect sense. You need to be eating foods that your body appreciates, foods that are clean, organic where possible and nutrient-dense, so that you help your digestive system and improve your body’s ability to cleanse itself of toxins. If you feel lethargic, sluggish and bloated constantly, then it’s possible you’re allergic or intolerant to certain foods. Lets work out which foods, avoid them and watch your health improve! Nutrients and herbs that help digestion and help heal and seal your gut include glutamine, zinc, slippery elm, B6, aloe vera, marshmallow root, goldenseal and manuka. If you suffer from candida or thrush then take a course of anti-microbial herbs to help cleanse your gut and replenish the good bacteria with varying strains of probiotics.
Eat lots of Cruciferous vegetables
A high consumption of Cruciferous vegetables (from the Brassica family) is associated with a decreased risk of cancer. This is in part due to the presence of a phytochemical called glucosinolates which has potent anti-carcinogenic activities. Brassica vegetables are also really high in fibre and improve liver detoxification. These vegetables are best eaten slightly steamed or stir-fried as if eaten raw they can inhibit thyroid function due to the glucosinolates acting as goitrogens (or anti-nutrients). Do not boil them though you will lose all or most of the beneficial nutrients. Here is an extended list of the Cruciferous vegetables:
Eat lots of fibre
The fibre naturally contained in whole grains (e.g. brown rice, quinoa, spelt, amaranth, oats, buckwheat), fruits and vegetables helps to prevent your body re-absorbing recycled oestrogenic chemicals (such as plastics and pesticides) and encourages the swift elimination of toxins and old hormones out of your bowels.
Avoid hormone disrupters
Environmental factors also play a large role in hormonal balance. There are hundreds of thousands of synthetic chemicals that are either put directly into food, used as pesticides, added into packaging or food processing or just accumulated through the food chain. Some we even take as medicine. Many of these act like hormones and can disrupt a fragile endocrine system. They often mimic the role of oestrogen and can stimulate oestrogen-sensitive tissue. They are classified as xenoestrogens (meaning oestrogenic compounds from outside rather than inside our bodies). Essentially, they confuse the hormonal messages sent around our bodies and can change our sexual and reproductive health and development.
Follow these tips to protect, maintain and improve your health:
Know which herbs you can use
As much as nutritional medicine and food as medicine is the starting point for living with balanced hormones, there is so much that herbal medicine can do that nutrients can’t. Herbs have been used for centuries and with good reason. Some of my favourite herbs for balancing hormones and reducing female hormonal/reproductive issues include Shatavari, Peony, Licorice, Chaste Tree, Dong Quai, Black Cohosh, Blue Cohosh, Lady’s Mantle, False Unicorn Root and True Unicorn Root, Vervain, Sage, Schisandra and Wild Yam. These are best used when prescribed by a naturopath or herbalist as while they’re all generally regarded as incredibly safe, hormones are complicated little guys and it’s not really responsible to self-prescribe.
Cassie Mendoza-Jones is a naturopath, nutritionist and herbalist who believes in the healing power of nature. Cassie founded Elevate Vitality, a boutique naturopathic clinic in the heart of Bondi Beach, to help people reach their optimal state of health.
Connect with Cassie:
Hi Jessica, I believe in synchronicity so when I was guided to you .on FB I was intrigued and inspired. I turned 46 last week and my husband bought me your book. I wanted to thank you for sharing your wisdom in such a beautifully presented way. My copy is now filled with tabs and post it notes with actual notes throughout. I am dairy intolerant since having my gallbladder removed 15+ years ago, I don't eat meat, very minimal gluten and was told 12 months ago my gut was not digesting my food properly so I wasn't receiving sufficient nutrients and taking supplements would be a waste of time. My weight fluctuates tending to gain rather than lose but now I believe I have a tool to help me bring my body back into balance that I need for my health and longevity of life - so again thank you. The first few steps to creating a stronger path forward for my health has found its foundation in your beautiful book, The Healthy Life.
With kindest regards Samantha
I'm writing this email because I wanted to tell you how much I love your blog and how you really helped me in my health journey. Thank you for sharing all your advices and experiences.
When I started my studies, I was drinking lots of coffee and I was eaten the wrong foods, and feel bad about it, I wasn't at my best. So I had done some research on the net but at first I didn't found advices that are for me, and then I found your blog. It was exactly what I was looking for, good advices and healthy recipes. Now I'm following your advices on rest more, and snacks between meals and prep the meals and take time for myself to reconnect with my body and let go my anxiety, etc, and I have a more balanced life and have a new relationship with food thanks to you.
I bought your book and it's honestly the best book I have ever bought. I suffer from IBS and anxiety. I have paid so much money seeing naturopaths however after reading your book and all of your tips I'm noticing so much of a difference, so simple and easy to follow. And symptoms have dramatically decreased. Also you have helped me to relax. Currently drinking the protein health smoothie! Thankyou your amazing.
Hey Jessica! I haven’t yet brought ‘The Healthy Life’, but I do have the clean life and your slim down plan! I would like to thank you so much for the knowledge your share and the message you put across about health and wellness. I’m studying Nutritional Medicine in Melbourne and absolutely love the philosophy that you share with your JSHealth community. The work you’ve done to show people that leading a healthy lifestyle isn’t boring, tasteless, difficult or depriving is amazing and hope to share the message myself one day. You’ve inspired me to start my own blog , to share the message and have taught me so many things about my own health! You should be proud of your achievements! Thank you again
I searched for help and tips through the Internet and found Jessica Sepel. This is seriously not exaggerated, but she was the reason why I have dared myself to eat again, to have snacks in between, to nourish my body. I could slowly improve my negative thoughts about my body image and my stupid anxiety of gaining weight. Besides, The Cleanest Gut was awesome too! A huge thank you! Especially from my mum. Seriously, without you I wouldn’t be where I am now!
Congratulations on your new book! It looks absolutely gorgeous. I’ve been following you on Instagram for a few years and you’ve inspired me to slowly but surely eat healthier without giving myself a hard time when I don’t. It made me so happy (and weirdly proud) to see the Daily Mail article on The Healthy Life. I remember trying out your recipes before you even had your eBook out! I can’t wait to get my hands on the book. Keep up the great work.
Cooking in this way truly brought out the foodie in me and has instilled a huge passion for health and wellness! Life throws you hard and frustrating things sometimes but I truly believe that this is where we learn more about ourselves and what our passions in life are! Thank you for inspiring me on my journey to health and wellness!
I am a yoga teacher in Johannesburg and am thrilled to have bought your book today. I love making healthy, nutritious food for my family, friends and fellow yogis! Thank you for this book and your inspiration (had to share a pic of my book on my recipe stand in the kitchen).
I bought your beautiful book during the week and told my bestie to go out and buy it also! I love love love it. It is the book I would give to my younger self if I could (I am 41 years old). Everything is just so sensible and informative and is definitely a book all teenagers should have. This should be a text book for girls becoming teens. I will love going back and re-reading it many many times and can't wait to make more of the recipes. Thank you Jess - you are an incredibly inspiring woman and you should feel so proud
My fiancé bought your book and we have cooked some of your meals. Amazing! I love your outlook on a healthy lifestyle and your hints and tips with preparing tasty meals are fantastic. Thanks for reviving us to live a healthier lifestyle and get our bodies wedding ready.
I want to empower you to make good choices, every day. I want you to enhance your understanding of health and nutrition. I'm committed to making sure you live the best life. Because you deserve it. Are you ready to start feeling great?
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