Hormonal health is at the foundation of the work I do with my female clients. Whether they are looking to optimise fertility or not, the bottom line when it comes to women’s health, our fertility is not just about making babies, but a marker of our overall health. I often see clients in my practise who have come to accept symptoms such as painful menstruation, PMS and mood swings in their daily life. Although these symptoms may be common, they are by no means normal, and there is plenty that can be done to address them. That’s why today I want to share with you my top tips for hormonal balance.
But first of all – What are hormones?
Hormones are our body’s chemical messengers. They are secreted by various glands (such as the pituitary, thyroid and ovaries) and they travel around our bodies giving our organs and tissues instructions. Sometimes these messages get interfered with (be it due to medications, diet, lifestyle, stress, or simply ageing) leading our glands to produce too much or too little of a hormone. This can then lead to symptoms of hormonal imbalance such as:
- Irregular cycles (short or long) or missed periods
- Heavy bleeding and/ or painful cycles
- Spotting mid-cycle of just before menstruation
- Premenstrual symptoms (breast tenderness, cramping, mood swings, food cravings, acne)
- Lack of libido
- Fertility issues
- Difficulty sleeping
- Night sweats
- Bloating and/ or water retention
- Weight gain
- Bulging veins on the back of hands
- Low energy
- Fertility issues
- Joint pain
- Constipation or loose stools
- Low mood
- Brittle hair and nails
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, there is a good chance that there may be a hormonal imbalance at play. Nowadays we are blessed to have several diagnostic tests which can be done privately to really get to the root of the issue, but often by just making a few adjustments in diet and lifestyle, my clients will start to see some positive improvements. Below are my favourite tips for optimising hormonal function.
Love your liver
One of our liver’s many functions is to transform and eliminate excess hormones circulating in your body. Our liver needs protein and glucose to function optimally, so ensure you are eating plenty of good quality protein (eggs, fish, seafood, bone broth/ gelatin and organic dairy) as well as easy to digest carbohydrates (ripe fruits, root vegetables such as beetroots, squashes, potatoes, well cooked vegetables). Avoid substances which stress the liver such as excessive alcohol, cigarettes, drugs and chemicals in personal health products.
Regular bowel movements are also very important for the removal of excess circulating hormones, so ensuring our digestion is working optimally by having daily bowel movements is crucial for hormonal health. Including a raw carrot in your daily diet is a great way to encourage the removal of excess estrogens from the body and optimise gut health. If you are struggling to have a daily bowel movement, I would also encourage you to ‘train your bowels’ by sitting on the toilet at the same time every day (even if unsuccessful at first). Ever notice how the men in our lives seem to sit and ponder life on the loo every morning whilst we run around like headless chickens in the morning? There is definitely something to be said for training the bowels; our body loves predictability and regularity so grab a book or a magazine and give it a try!
Do not be afraid of fats
Our sex hormones (including oestrogen, progesterone, testosterone) are made from cholesterol so ensuring your diet contains plenty of healthy fats is very important for hormonal health. Good sources of fats include organic animal products, eggs, full fat dairy (if tolerated), oil olives and olive oil. Cook with butter, ghee or coconut oil and avoid refined fats such as margarine and vegetable oils (e.g. soybean and sunflower oil).
Become a sleep superhero
Inadequate sleep or sleep deprivation has an impact on our hormones due to the release of cortisol. Work on practising good sleep hygiene, getting to bed between 10-11pm and getting 8 hours of sleep every night, even on weekends. You can read more about why sleep is so crucial in my blog post here.
Yes, I know, I sound like a broken record about stress. Again, the release of the stress hormone cortisol can negatively impact our sex hormones, as well as affecting other areas of our health such as digestion, immunity and our nervous system. Remember that fasting, undereating and strenuous exercise are also a form of stress, so have a look at these if you are struggling with hormonal issues. Implement stress management techniques into your daily life such as yoga, meditation, walking or simply breathing techniques. More on stress and hormonal health here.
These are my top tips for hormonal health. Try them out and let me know how you get on! If you are struggling with any of the symptoms above and need some further support to get to the root cause of your health issues, click here to book a free call and let’s chat about how some bespoke diet and lifestyle changes can help you flourish.