Have you ever felt controlled by your hormones? To help you to visualize just how powerful our hormones are take a guess at the volume of hormones in our body. 1 cup? ½ cup? ¼ cup? No, there are just 2 tablespoons of hormones in our entire body! Two tablespoons that can cause havoc to our physical, mental and emotional health!
- Make us tired, moody, teary and angry
- Cause sugar cravings, headaches, bloating and fluid retention
- Make us gain weight, become depressed, anxious and insomniacs
On the other hand our hormones are what make us women. They give us our curves, our energy & our motivation, ramp up our sex drive, allow us to become mothers and are responsible for our nurturing nature.
The key to living in harmony with our hormones is BALANCE and unfortunately the medical answer to balancing our hormones is synthetic hormones in the form of the oral contraceptive pills such as Yasmin and Diane, IUDs such as the Mirena and contraceptive implants such as Implanon. These hormone treatments are some of the most commonly prescribed drugs and often we don’t even think about what they are doing to our body. These treatments are designed to interfere with healthy bodily functions and fertility and can cause over 150 chemical changes in the body, many of which are not fully understood. They are associated with weight gain, depression, headaches & migraines, thrush, urinary tract infections, loss of libido and increased risk of breast and cervical cancer. Many women don’t realize that the pill disrupts metabolism of nutrients, leading to nutritional deficiencies. At best they offer a band aid approach for hormonal conditions, with symptoms often returning when treatment is stopped.
As a naturopath I am seeing more and more women presenting to my clinic with hormonal issues. Women with P.M.S, heavy, painful or irregular periods, fibroids, endometriosis, PCOS, infertility who are looking for a way to balance their hormones naturally. Many of these conditions are associated with ‘oestrogen dominance’ where there is too much oestrogen and/or not enough progesterone. The effects of high oestrogen can become clear for many women premenstrually – fatigue, irritability, cravings, bloating breast tenderness, general aches and pains can all be signs your oestrogen levels are too high. More seriously high oestrogen levels are an established factor in breast cancer.You can see how important it is to keep your oestrogen levels in check, here is how:
Sabotage the Sugar
Sugar is the enemy to high oestrogen levels. You can think of sugar as oestrogens favourite fuel!
- Easy sugar! Cut back on sugary and starchy foods such as breakfast cereals, breads, cakes, biscuits, pasta, potatoes, soft drinks and sweet snacks.
- Get the balance right! Include plenty of protein and good fats at every meal to balance your blood sugar levels and reduce sugar cravings ie fish, eggs, chicken, meats, nuts, seeds, legumes, avocado, olive and coconut oil.
- Make the switch! Swap refined grains for whole grains such as quinoa, buckwheat and brown rice.
Clean up your environment
Chemicals in our environment called xeno-oestrogens act as hormones when absorbed into our bodies.
- Can it! Tinned foods are generally lined with plastics, so reducing your intake of canned foods will reduce your exposure to these chemicals.
- Heat and plastic don’t mix! Never heat food in plastic containers or put hot food in plastic to store. The heat releases the chemicals from the plastic straight into your food. In Australia there has been a ‘B.P.A. free’ craze! B.P.A. is only one chemical found in plastic in a few years’ time there will probably be another dangerous chemical removed from many plastic products! Think about this rule when you are heating your babies’ bottle or reheating your child’s food too!
- Unwrap it! The softer the plastic the more of these chemicals they contain. What is the softest plastic you know of? You guessed it, cling wrap! Use a stainless steel lunch container instead or aluminium foil to wrap your lunch.
- Bottled water is designed for one use. Yes its bad news for our environment but when you use your plastic water bottle again and again it disintegrates and leaches the plastic chemicals into the water you drink. There is a solution. Invest in a good quality stainless steel water bottle and carry it wherever you go.
- If it’s important for you it is vital for your children! Think about all the plastics your baby and children are exposed to, bottles, dummies, toys that go straight in their mouths! If your baby uses a dummy, look at rubber ones, if your baby is bottle fed, choose a glass bottle, look for alternatives to plastic toys, cloth, rubber, wood, bamboo etc. Not only will you be looking after your child’s health, you will be caring for their future environment.
Look after your liver
Hormone balance depends on a healthy liver.
- Go clean! Limiting alcohol, caffeine and processed foods, which all put extra stress on our liver.
- Veggie up your plate! Eat more cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli & brussel sprouts, which improve the metabolism of oestrogen in the liver.
- Add some Zing! Start the day with fresh lemon juice in water.
As you can see there are many things we can do in our daily lives that can positively affect the delicate balance of our hormones! Focus on making one change a week towards living in harmony with your hormones.