We hear a lot about estrogen and not much about progesterone. But they are connected. When we say our estrogen is too high we need to understand that that is actually in relation to the amount of progesterone we have in our body. It is an important balancing act for hormone health.
As explained in the article Understanding Hormones, progesterone is best known for preparing the lining of the uterus for pregnancy. It is what triggers the endometrial lining to thicken in order to house a fertilized egg. When pregnant, progesterone levels are high to maintain the developing baby.
Not Just for Women
Progesterone is not just a female hormone – it plays an important role for males as well. Check out all the important roles progesterone plays in overall health:
- Supports breast health
- Supports cardiovascular health
- Supports the nervous system
- Helps maintain healthy brain function
- Helps regulate mood
- Plays a role in easing anxiety
- Plays a role in facilitating memory
- Plays a role in promoting healthy sleep and relaxation
Your Brain on Progesterone
One of progesterone’s very important jobs is in the brain. It has direct access to our brain and nerves through the bloodstream. Progesterone protects the brain from damage and helps to repair it after injury. This happens because it promotes growth and repair of the myelin sheaths, the protective layer of nerve fibers that facilitate communication between neurons.
Cortisol and High Progesterone
In my article, Stress and Hormone Health, we talked about effects of high levels of cortisol. Low progesterone can also be caused by long term stress or high cortisol. Other causes of low progesterone can be synthetic estrogens (xenoestrogens), hormonal birth control especially birth control pills and lack of ovulation.
Symptoms of Low Progesterone
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms you may have low progesterone and should consider seeing your doctor:
- Difficulty getting or staying pregnant
- Breakthrough bleeding during the second half of the menstrual cycle
- PMS or PMDD
- Menstrual migraines
- A heavier flow during menstruation
- Irregular cycles
- Bloating in the abdomen
- Swollen and/or painful breasts
Eating for Hormone Health
Our hormones work together in a wonderful balance. The foods we eat play a role in this balance. Since our hormones are made of amino acids from protein and fatty acids from fats, it stands to reason that the better quality foods we give our bodies to work with, the better quality hormones our body will create.
Start with whole foods. The real stuff – rather than processed foods full of ingredients we can’t pronounce. When you do buy packaged foods remember that the shorter the ingredient list the better.
Choose clean protein, ie. grass-fed, wild caught or pastured. Choose healthy fats such as cold pressed olive oil, coconut oil and avocados. Eat lots of vegetables and fruit, buy organic when you can. Also eat resistant starches such as sweet potatoes, beans and lentils, nuts and seeds, and oatmeal.
Taste Success for Hormone Balance
It has been our experience that many women going through the Taste Success program consistently improve their hormone health and balance. We do not claim to heal hormone imbalance. But we do know that eating healthy foods such as listed above and included in the Taste Success program will give your body the nutrients required for health, including hormone health. Taste Success is a great option if you are just wanting to feel better and get healthy or if you are under the care of a doctor and would like to support the treatment you are receiving with good nutrition.