Ever find yourself lashing out at your man and blaming everything on your hormones? Well, in some cases, you're not far from right! Your hormones are a pretty huge part of your health and wellbeing and if your hormones aren't happy, neither are you.
Naturopath and founder of Bella Wellbeing, Nikki Hill explains why hormonal harmony is so important for us.
"Hormones are chemical messengers that influence the health of every cell in your body so optimal hormonal balance is essential for your body to work well. If hormones are out of balance, you will feel the negative effects emotionally and/or physically. It is so important to balance your hormones naturally rather than simply taking the hormonal contraceptive pill as this only masks the symptoms and doesn’t address the root cause," she says.
From estrogen and progesterone to androgens, there are so many different hormones that can affect your body. Women usually find that they are either high or low in one of these, which have the power to cause a whole host of problems with your health (some of which can be serious). The most common symptoms include...
- Low moods
- Food cravings
- Period problems
- Fertility issues
- Sluggish sex drive
- Stubborn weight gain
Things that can affect your hormones can be anything from lifestyle choices, to diet, exercise, stress, age, environmental toxins and ovulation. So although some things are totally out of your control for the most part, you can do something about it.
1. Eat good fats (i.e. saturated fats)
We know what you're thinking, but we're not talking any old fats we're talking GOOD fats. Traditional fats, such as coconut oil, avocados, organic butter, ghee, grass-fed meat and full-fat organic dairy are the foods we need to be adding to our shopping baskets.
And contrary to popular belief, saturated fats are actually good for our cholesterol. Nikki says "We need to eat a certain amount of saturated fats to produce cholesterol which is essential for the production of hormones, so if you don’t eat enough cholesterol, your body can’t make hormones."
So get off the zero calorie diet and start indulging girls! Note: Avoid trans fats and processed foods AT ALL COSTS.
2. Chill out
A recent study from Bupa found that 44% of Britons suffer from long term stress. Forty. Four. Percent. And although a shock of stress can be a good thing at times, when it lasts too long, it is anything but.
Nikki explains. "The body is designed to cope with stress by producing its own stress-fighting hormones. However, chronic stress disrupts this natural process, leading to compromised production of female hormones and multitude of symptoms including irritability, mood swings, headaches, sleeplessness, and weight gain."
But don't worry - you CAN do things to reduce your stress levels. Like introducing some zen into your life! Anything like yoga, massage, painting or just kicking back and putting the kettle on can do heaps for your health. Nikki also recommends Adaptogenic herbs (i.e. stress busting herbs) such as ginseng and natural supplements such as, Kalms, which have also proved to help reduce stress.
And if that's not enough to get you OOHM-ing, Marisa adds the major effect on your skin. "Stress makes the levels of the hormone cortisol SOAR, cutting blood flow to your skin which is why we get breakouts and our skin looks bad when we are stressed."
So that's why we're always breaking out?! Stress and hormones are connected and chances are, when you're stressed, you're probably not eating the right foods either. Tackle this by taking a natural skincare supplement such as Skin Accumax which helps give your skin all the vitamins it needs and bring your skin back to its glowing state.
3. Be kind to your liver
Tending to your liver is more than just avoiding Friday night drinks. Try to minimise sugar, sweeteners, caffeine, pesticides, smog and impure water - these all play havoc on your liver. And your hormones? They'll be pissed.
"The liver helps break down oestrogen into a form that can be easily passed through the body. If the liver isn't working efficiently, oestrogen can be reabsorbed back into the bloodstream and cause hormonal imbalance. One of the best ways to improve liver function is to eat properly, get plenty of rest and not overburden the liver with junk foods, diet drinks, alcohol, or overeating," says Nikki.
Nikki also recommends munching on lots of liver cleansing foods such as artichokes, beets, cruciferous vegetables (well cooked and eaten with saturated fat), carrots, organic proteins and eggs. You can also take up liver cleansing supplements such as Milk Thistle to help improve your liver function. T'is simple!
4. Eat citrus fruits
Citrus fruits are naturally high in flavonoids which make them a fantastic choice in maintaining a healthy estrogen balance. They're also extremely cleansing for the bod' helping our liver to flush out excess hormones.
Marisa says, "Citrus fruits contain d-limones that balance hormones and mop-up excess oestrogen." Which is exactly what we want - balanced hormones and nada waste.
To ensure you're doing everything you can to achieve harmony, try a natural supplement such as Pukka's Womankind. It's unique mix of broccoli seed sprouts, green tea extract, red clover and maca are designed to help enhance your health, balance your hormones and restore vitality! It's also great for menopausal women as it helps increase libido too. Oh yes.
5. Limit your exposure to toxins
It's not something we think about everyday, but the reality is that there's a lot of harmful toxins in almost everything we buy nowadays.
"Toxins found in pesticides, plastics, and household chemicals can contain hormone-disrupting chemicals that mimic oestrogen in the body," says Nikki.
Nikki says it best to avoid plastic storage when storing left over foods and liquids. Give glass storage a try - it's a much wiser alternative and doesn't hold the risk of toxins like plastic does.
It's also smart to keep in mind that buying organically produced meat is well worth the extra cash. This avoids consuming too many synthetic hormones and pesticides, which can disrupt your balance in a MAJOR way.
6. Sleep well
It's not something you haven't heard before. But for some reason we're still not prioritising sleep highly in our 'To Do Lists' which can be a big, BIG mistake for our beauty and health.
Nikki says, "Skimping on sleep, even for one night, can have a tremendous impact on hormones. Sleep is crucial for hormonal health as this is the time our body is removing toxins, recharging our batteries, relaxing the mind and creating hormones."
No more late night Google searches for you. Time to shut down your iPad, mobile phone and laptop this evening. Nikki recommends doing it at least 1-2 hours before bed as it helps control your level of melatonin which helps get you to sleep.
If you have trouble snoozing get yourself sleepy by grabbing a book, listening to music or unwinding in a hot bath with lavender oils and Epsom salts (sounds lush, right?) You'll be sleeping like a baby before you know it.
7. Reduce caffeine and alcohol
Apart from starving your liver when consuming alcohol and caffeine, Marisa points out the negative effects it has on our hormones.
She says, as a rule of thumb "you must have 3 days of no alcohol at all to allow your liver to repair and rejuvenate which in turn balances your hormones." Otherwise, your hormones will be screwed up!
Make sure to also limit yourself to no more than 2 coffees a day and 3 units of alcohol 3-4 times a week. So how about that night in tonight? Your body will thank you for it.
8. Reassess your workout
Gym junkies, take note! Getting your blood pumping is great for your heart health but it has its limits. Just bare in mind not to over do it. Otherwise you could be causing damage to your body and your health.
Nikki says, "If you have hormone imbalance (especially adrenal fatigue) intense and prolonged cardio exercise such as long-distance running or spending hours at the gym, can actually make the problem worse.
"It's much better for you to part take in relaxing forms of exercise such as yoga, pilates, walking, swimming or perhaps just going to bed and getting more sleep!" In other words - take it easy and make sure you get plenty of rest.
9. Indulge in a fibre-rich diet
To balance the bad guys out and avoid hormonal imbalance, Marisa recommends indulging in a fibre rich diet.
Women who don't consume enough fibre usually suffer from something called 'estrogen dominance' which can also result in a ton of unsightly problems. A fatty mid-section, tender breasts, irregular periods and headaches are just a few to start with, but there are things you can eat to counterbalance the problem.
"Fibre in the form of fruit and vegetables or milled flaxseeds or linseeds, bind to and move excess hormones out of the body," says Marisa. Do this and the fibre will help you get rid of the rest!
Foods to munch on include, bananas, apples, berries and oatmeal. But don't forget flax, their anti-estrogenic properties help balance your hormones more than other food! Sprinkle it on top of salads or add it to your evening's stir-fry. It's as easy as that ladies.
So... will you be taking up these healthy steps to hormonal harmony? Tweet us @sofeminineUK!
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