Hormonal imbalance is a common condition that many women experience. It can creep on you and before you know it, you’re suffering with PMS, digestive issues, insomnia, weight gain and so much more. Luckily, your lifestyle choices have a big role to play in hormonal health. And there’s a lot you can do to protect and balance your hormonal health. These five principles are a great place to start.

Hormone therapy and artificial hormones should be a last resort

This first principle may be a hard pill to swallow, but when you put artificial hormones into your body, via hormonal birth control, IUDs, and progesterone creams, you throw your body’s natural hormone production off balance. In fact, a recent study found an association between hormonal contraception and breast cancer.

Take care of gut health

Making sure your gut is populated with healthy, diverse bacteria can really help hormonal balance. That’s because a healthy gut actually modulates and excretes hormones like estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. So, be sure to include probiotics into your diet. And also avoid antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers to ensure that you get exposure to good bacteria.

Include more cruciferous veggies into your diet

Estrogen dominance is thought to be the leading factor behind many hormonal issues facing women. This is a condition in which there is too much estrogen in the body, and this can disrupt the menstrual cycle in so many ways. However, eating cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower help to flush the body of excess estrogen, restoring balance.

Make sugar the exception, not the norm

When it comes to sugar, let’s just say it’s not your hormones BFF. Too much sugar increases inflammation in the body, and can negatively affect the levels of estrogen and testosterone in the body. So, make sugar a special treat rather than an everyday affair.

Try using adaptogens

Adaptogens are a quite a trend right now, but when used judiciously, they can support the body in just the right ways. Maca root, rhodiola and ashwagandha may be particularly helpful adaptogens when it comes to balancing hormones.

Lower stress naturally

Just as sugar can wreak havoc on hormonal balance, so does stress. When there’s too much of the stress hormone, cortisol, it can interrupt your body’s production of other important hormones. So, try to reduce stress by increasing mindfulness, self-care practices and even exercise.

Exercise and meditation are both great for mind and body. But despite meditation’s many benefits, it’s difficult for many of us to actually sit still and meditate. Does that mean you’ll never reap the benefits of this age-old practice? Not necessarily. Now, you can combine exercise and meditation together. It’s something called active meditation, and here’s how it works.

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