Given that I follow the autoimmune protocol, I would call my diet ‘clean’. By clean, I mean that I source the most nutrient dense, unprocessed, organic produce available to east London. I try not to over eat. I exercise reasonably regularly. So how is it that I have belly fat and bingo wings that no amount of crunches and triceps dips can cure? Why do I wake up tired but can’t get to sleep at night without a few glasses of red wine? (Sulphur-free of course.)
What the hell is going on?
True to form, I did some online research to try to figure it all out.
Lucky for me, I found the answer, and it’s all connected to our hormones.
Hormones are like messengers in the body, they influence behaviour, emotion, brain chemicals, the immune system and how you turn food into fuel. When your hormones are balanced you look and feel great. When they are imbalanced they can send you on a whole rollercoaster of symptoms.
Ever had disrupted sleep? Fatigue or burnout? Hair loss? Moodiness and anxiety? Cyclical headaches or irregular menstrual cycles? Low libido? Are you overweight or struggling to lose weight? Sugar cravings? Brain fog? Do you feel lethargic, weepy, grumpy or unappreciated?
These are some of the many symptoms that point to hormonal imbalance. Who knew?
Women are often told by their GP’s that there is nothing wrong when they experience these symptoms. Blood tests come back within the ‘normal’ range and we’re told that it’s a sign of ageing.
And yet, women in their late twenties can experience symptoms that relate to hormonal imbalance. Honestly, it’s a fallacy to believe that you only need to worry about your hormones at puberty, pregnancy or menopause.
Imbalanced hormones can cause havoc with women of all ages. In fact we are much more vulnerable to hormonal imbalance than men, possibly due to the stresses of juggling multiple roles. But did you know that your food choices, how you deal with stress, how much you exercise, your environment and ageing can all affect the delicate balance of your hormones?
In her fabulous book - The Hormone Cure, the wonderful Sara Gottfried suggests plenty of natural methods to realign the hormonal system.
Remember, small changes can make a significant difference. Why not try one or two today?
Diaphragmatic or abdominal breathing – used in yoga, meditation and tai chi, abdominal breathing is a long, conscious breathing technique that entails bringing air into your lower and upper lungs. Practicing this slow style of breathing has been shown to lower stress and cortisol and to raise melatonin – the hormone that helps to regulate your sleep cycle.
Adaptogens - balance out your hormones and help calm stress levels. Depending on your symptoms; if you have mood swings, you could include Ashwaganda – a great tool in supporting optimal thyroid function; Maca for boosting the immune system and your libido; or Holy basil/Tulsi, to clear brain fog and reduce bloating and gas.
Ditch alcohol and caffeine - what?! This suggestion can literally bring people out in a sweat! But caffeine raises cortisol levels, adding further stress to the adrenals and is linked to PMS symptoms. Meanwhile, alcohol increases belly fat, and is associated with premenstrual anxiety, mood problems and headaches.
Acupuncture – has been shown to improve PMS symptoms, and all without side effects; unless you have a needle phobia.
Reduce canned food and eat from glass, stainless steel and ceramic containers – Bisphenol-A (BPA) found in plastic and canned foods, disrupts your natural hormones and has been linked with cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Happy gut, happy you – research into gut health has found that your microbiome powers most of your body’s key functions, including your hormones and sleep. Studies suggest that there is a link between normal sleep patterns and gut bacteria. It postulates that the greater the diversity of good microbes in our gut, the better sleep quality and cognitive flexibility we can achieve.
Want more help? You can contact me for some 1:1 person-centred health coaching ❤️