By Riannon Page - Naturopath & Owner of Mungbean Health
Women’s hormones are extremely sensitive and if we are not achieving wellness, our hormones become very unhappy! Luckily, there are simple things we can do each and every day to support our beautiful hormones. These are the 4 top things all women should be doing to support their hormone health.
1. Balance your blood sugar levels
Our bodies love balance, so maintaining a tightly controlled insulin and blood sugar relationship is crucial for our health, especially our hormonal balance and fertility.
PCOS is a common hormonal condition, where women experience difficulties managing their blood sugar and insulin levels. It is believed 50-70% of women with PCOS have “insulin resistance”, which means the body does not respond properly to the hormone insulin. This can become very harmful to the body as it results in glucose staying in the blood instead of being moved into the cells. The pancreas also continues to pump out more and more insulin, resulting in higher levels of insulin or what is commonly referred to as “hyperinsulinemia”.
Hyperinsulinemia has a direct effect on the ovaries causing them to produce more “androgens” (aka “male” hormones including testosterone) which can result in symptoms such as acne, excess hair growth (above the lip, jawline, chest or back) and irregular periods (due to irregular ovulation).
This is why learning how to support a healthy blood sugar balance and improving your body’s ability to respond to insulin are so important in trying to minimise the hormonal imbalances associated with PCOS. Supporting a healthy blood sugar balance may help improve your chances of ovulating more regularly and in turn improve your chances of conceiving.
How to balance your blood sugars over the day for healthy hormones:
- Ensure you are having protein and fat with each meal/snack. Protein-rich foods include fish, chicken, grass-fed beef, nuts, and eggs. Snacks may consist of a handful of almonds and pumpkin seeds OR some plain unsweetened yoghurt mixed with frozen berries/fresh fruit and ground nuts/seeds OR sliced apple with almond nut butter.
- Ditch refined and processed foods including soft drinks, pastries, donuts, biscuits, anything with white flours, and/or white sugars. Opt for wholefoods including fruit, veggies, wholegrain bread etc.
- Get enough fibre in your diet! It also helps to blunt the release of glucose into the blood stream.
- There are some great minerals and supplements that work wonders with blood sugar and insulin levels including magnesium, chromium and inositol.
2. Nourish your nervous system
Our stress hormones can have a profound effect on our reproductive health and fertility. When we are stressed our Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal Axis (HPA axis) becomes activated triggering the classic “fight or flight” response. When the HPA axis is in overdrive, aka ‘sympathetic dominance’, the body will inhibit reproduction as a mechanism to protect itself. In other words, the body is working hard to protect itself in flight or fight, so it won’t take preference to growing and nourishing another human being.
How stress affects our reproductive hormones:
- Glucocorticoids (Cortisol) affect the hypothalamus by inhibiting the release of Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone (GnRH).
- Without GnRH, both the synthesis and release of luteinizing hormone (LH) and Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) become disrupted.
- This can result in anovulatory cycles (no ovulation) and lead to missing periods, menstrual irregularities or trouble conceiving.
Our top tips to help restore the adrenals and reduce the effects of stress:
- Yoga, meditation, breathing, and mindfulness activities are restorative to the HPA axis.
- See a counsellor or psychologist who can help you to learn the tools to manage stress.
- High quality sleep is crucial to adrenal health. So, ensure you are getting an average of 8 hours of sleep every night, ensuring you are getting to bed by 10pm. Cortisol reaches its lowest point at 11 pm, and melatonin begins to peak at 1 am. A 10pm bedtime allows deep sleep to set in, prevents a second wind, and promotes a healthy balance of melatonin and neurotransmitters.
- There are some beautiful herbs and vitamins that are wonderful for supporting the adrenal glands and balancing cortisol levels. Always speak with your naturopath so you get the right treatment for you.
3. Avoid Endocrine Disrupting Hormones
Endocrine disruptors, also known as endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), are synthetic chemicals and compounds found in certain foods, personal care products and environmental substances. Unfortunately, these nasty chemicals and compounds can interfere with the normal function of the body’s endocrine system and interfere with way the body’s hormones work. More and more research is uncovering that EDC’s are linked to both male and female reproductive disorders including endometriosis and infertility.
If you are looking to avoid EDC’s, there are some simple things you can do:
- Avoid heating food in plastic containers by opting for glass
- Avoid drinking bottled water by opting for a stainless-steel drink bottle
- Make the switch from toxic cleaning and cosmetic products to organic and chemical free alternatives
- Choose organic or spray-free fruit and vegetables
- Look for hormone free or organic meat
- Avoid processed foods whenever possible
4.Support your detoxification pathways
The organs that are responsible for detoxifying and removing waste from the body include the liver, kidneys, gut, lymphatic system, lungs, skin, and sweat glands. When it comes to our hormones, these detoxification pathways are very important.
Our liver and digestive system are particularly important in natural hormone regulation. The liver is responsible for breaking down our hormones so they can be excreted via our digestive system. Unfortunately, if our liver is compromised this leads to poor waste removal and our hormones are reabsorbed back into our blood supply. This means these non-metabolized hormones go on to have a secondary influence, which not only affects tissues but confuses our hormonal control centre.
Some signs and symptoms to look out for that may indicate you have detoxification issues include headaches or migraines, sluggish digestion, hormonal symptoms such as heavy, painful periods, breast tenderness, acne, sensitivity to smell or anxiety, irritability and depression.
Some of the easiest ways to support your detoxification pathways include:
- Eat organic fruits and vegetables whenever possible
- Avoid processed foods
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Reduce use of cosmetics and toxic household products
- Eat adequate amounts of fibre
- Sweat more through exercise and sauna usage
It is always best to work with a naturopath to get a personalised treatment plan that works best for you.
This blog was contributed by Riannon Page founder of Mungbean Health.
Riannon is a mother of two and has a deep goal of helping other women to experience the beauty of motherhood.
She started working in a healthfood store when she was 15 years old and saw the positive effects that natural health had on peoples lives. This is when she knew she wanted to be a Naturopath.
She started Mungbean Health on her own and has gained many beautiful and talented Naturopath along the way, some who you see in clinic and others supporting you via our dispensary. Mungbean is currently a team of 9 and ever growing.
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