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Balance Your Hormones The Natural Way

There are the 3 main sex hormones oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone that are in flux during menopause however scientists have identified over 50 hormones in the human body. Hormones are involved in every aspect of your health as they carry instruction to the cells in your body. You need hormones for your body to function optimally however during the stages of perimenopause our levels of the sex hormones are fluctuating and declining. These imbalances may impact other hormones in your body and increase your risk of short and long term health conditions.

Do you want to know how to balance your hormones the natural way?

HRT (hormone replacement treatment) can be an option for replacing your hormones oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone that are depleting in the stages of perimenopause but you can also manage all of your hormones naturally.

Research suggests that more than half of all perimenopausal women report an increase in anxiety. Not many of us realise this anxiety is linked to our hormones. Menopause guidelines are clear that antidepressants should not be used as first ­line treatment for low moods or anxiety associated with the perimenopause and menopause. This is because there is no evidence that they actually help psychological symptoms of the menopause. Despite this clear recommendation many women are inappropriately offered antidepressants when they first seek help from a healthcare professional about their menopausal symptoms.

You can definitely look after your own holistic health to help with some of the symptoms you may be having. A combination of lifestyle changes such as eating a balanced diet full of the nutrition your body requires in menopause, exercising regularly in the right way for your body, taking care of your emotional wellbeing and getting enough sleep are some of the ways you can help yourself.

Here's my easy guide to balanced, happy hormones in menopause:

1. Take care of your gut health

I've put this as number one as I feel this is the most important one to pay attention to because by keeping a healthy gut you keep a healthy immune system. When gut health isn’t optimal, hormones become imbalanced. The gut microbiome plays a crucial role in oestrogen regulation. Also 95% of serotonin is produced and stored in the gut and this is why people with an unhealthy microbiome also often experience feelings of depression and anxiety.

Did you know that over 70% of your immune system is located in your gut?

There are trillions of bacteria in your body most of which are found in your gut. They make up your gut microbiome and this can be a balance of 'friendly' good and 'bad' harmful bacteria. The optimum balance for overall health and immunity would be a dominance of the good bacteria.

You've probably taken antibiotics at some point in your life when you were ill and the aim of antibiotics is to destroy the bad bacteria in the gut. However they can't tell the difference between good and bad bacteria so they wipe your gut clean. How do you make sure your microbiome is built up of good bacteria and supporting your immunity? Eating food naturally rich in prebiotics or taking probiotic supplements containing Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli is a good place to start and introduce naturally fermented foods into your diet like kimchi and kombucha.

The role of oestrogen in our gut health is more important than we think because it has a role to play in reducing inflammation. If we have high inflammation in our intestines it can lead to a 'leaky gut' which is where pathogens pass through the gut wall into the blood stream. This stresses the body and makes cortisol rise. These inflammatory changes can increase the frequency and severity of hot flushes due to your body’s natural defence mechanisms are to try to cool you down.

2. Reduce your sugar intake

This point follows on from the last. The intake of sugar can affect the gut microbiome and therefore disrupt hormone levels.

When we consume sugar our blood sugar levels spike and dopamine is released in the brain and insulin is released from the pancreas to help move the sugar (glucose) to the cells of the body. If we aren't active, the insulin causes the fat to be stored in the body rather than used as energy.

Oestrogen and insulin are linked. Oestrogen has many beneficial effects on the body, including helping to optimise the action of insulin. Consequently low oestrogen levels may lead to insulin resistance, obesity, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. Therefore when our oestrogen levels are in decline it is beneficial that we consume less or no refined sugar in our diets.

3. Look after your emotional wellbeing

Again this is linked to the last two points! When we are stressed our bodies produce the hormone cortisol in response. This is natures reaction derived from our primal days of hunter-gatherer and survival instincts. In the modern world we have constant levels of stress in our daily lives which the body isn't able to differentiate from a real threat to a car horn beeping on your drive to work or someone shouting at you, so your body still produces cortisol in response. If we continue to have continuous stress this means we have high levels of cortisol in our body all the time.

High cortisol can affect the gut health. Gut health can affect oestrogen regulation. You can see the link!

Practising ways to nurture your emotional wellbeing regularly is a great way for your body to de-stress and lower your cortisol. You could try meditation, journaling, talk therapy or any forms of self-care that work for you.

4. Get regular exercise

Physical activity strongly influences hormonal health. A major benefit of exercise is the ability to reduce insulin levels.

Many types of physical activity have been found to help prevent insulin resistance, including high intensity interval training, strength training and cardio.

Being physically active may also help boost levels of testosterone.

For women, testosterone is the hormone that helps with bone density and muscle mass, cognitive function, mood, sexual function and energy.

Physical activity releases feel good hormones that make you feel better in yourself and give you more energy and helps you manage stress, anxiety or intrusive thoughts.

By adding the right exercise for you into your weekly routine it can help your physical and psychological wellbeing.

5. Quality sleep

To maintain optimal hormonal balance we should be aiming for at least 7 hours of quality sleep per night.

How are hormones related to sleep? Well when we sleep our body is rejuvenating itself; antioxidants repair free radical damage, our hormones get re-balanced and our nervous systems get refreshed. After 70 mins of sleep our growth hormones get released.

Stress in our lives can cause adrenaline to be released, raising cortisol. High cortisol impacts melatonin; the hormone melatonin plays a role in the sleep-wake cycle.

Make sure you look after your emotional health as well as your sleep health is vital. Get into a good routine of going to bed and waking at similar time of the day and night, try eating no later than 3 hour before bed, no blue light after 7pm, keep the bedroom comfortable and try meditation or a relaxation technique that works for you before bedtime.

You may have experienced restless legs at bedtime; the constant urge to move your legs is infuriating and stops you from sleeping! Magnesium is a natural mineral that our bodies need to function properly. It influences mood regulation, supports hormone levels and is involved in biochemical reactions throughout your body, so a magnesium deficiency can cause problems with muscle contractions and cramps.Taking 300mg of magnesium every night can help.

Want to know more?

I will be running empowered menopause and journaling workshops regularly covering the four main foundations; emotional health, physical wellbeing, gut and sleep health. Please take a look at the links below and I hope you can join me.



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