Our Holistic Hormone Fix
Here’s the truth: we lead busy lives, and we don’t always make the best choices when it comes to our mental and physical health.
We stay in toxic relationships for too long, we work too hard for too long often with very little reward. We eat too many foods containing too little nutritious benefits. We stare into computer screens, phone screens, and television screens for hours on end, often missing out on the world around us. We either sit idle in congested traffic, or race through the streets at a rapid rate, neither of which are great for our internal systems.
We lead busy, stressful lives and then we hit the gym, pushing our body to the max. Although physical activity is beneficial in most cases, it’s an additional stress which may be doing more harm than good if our other stress levels aren’t controlled. Emotional, environmental, and physical stress are wearing you down and you may not even be aware of it.
Successful stress management all boils down to our hormones and making sure they’re controlled and well-balanced. Hormones are our body’s chemical messengers which relay important messages such as digestion, mood, and metabolic responses (weight gain and loss) through our bloodstream to our tissues and organs. Even a slight imbalance can throw everything off.
Stress plays a huge role in our hormone levels by greatly raising our cortisol. Cortisol is our stress hormone, and when it’s elevated, our body has the tendency to store fat more easily.
So, what can we do to help prevent problems? There are a few holistic approaches I like to do each day to keep my hormones in balance in the midst of a busy life.
1. Take 10-15 minutes of silence for yourself to meditate. This means finding a quiet place with no distractions, no phones, no children, no radio, no spouse, no dogs or cats, just you.
Close your eyes and sit in silence. Meditate on your day. If you do this is at the start of your day, meditate on your intentions for the upcoming day – how do you want to live today, what will you contribute? If you do this is at the end of your day, focus on the positives of your day. What happened that gave you happiness? Was traffic good? Did your boss compliment your work? Did you have your best workout ever? Celebrate it in this quiet moment.
The benefits of 10-15 minutes of uninterrupted meditation each day has shown improvement in stress levels, anxiety, addiction, depression, and cognitive function. Research also shows that meditation can reduce blood pressure, pain response, stress hormone levels, and even improve cellular health. Not bad for just 15 minutes of your day!
2. Decrease the amount of Omega 6 polyunsaturated fat in your diet. These are man-made fats found in vegetable oil, peanut oil, canola oil, soybean oil, margarine, shortening, or other chemically altered fats. Rather, focus on including Omega 3 fats in your diet, to achieve a healthy balance between the two. This will help decrease inflammation in your body, which in turn, will help balance your hormones.
3. Give your body a cleanse. When our gut and liver are clogged from alcohol consumption, sugar consumption, and an overall toxic load (from foods we eat as well as environmental toxins) our body struggles to make feel-good hormones like serotonin. Serotonin is actually made in the gut, so keeping your gut clean and happy is very important.
Work on reducing your toxic load and give your body a break from the nasty chemicals with a seasonal cleanse, and add in a regular probiotic for healthy clean gut flora.
Additionally, you can add some holistic supplements to your daily regime for further health benefits. Some of my personal favorites include:
MACA: Grown in Central Peru in the highest point of the Andes, maca has been grown in vegetable crops for nearly 3000 years. North Americans have just recently started using the plant as a medicine and nutritional supplement.
Maca is used for aiding in anemia, chronic fatigue, energy, athletic performance, stamina, memory, female hormone imbalances, menopause symptoms, osteoporosis, depression and weakening bones. Maca is a great supplement to improve your sex drive and fertility. Women in particular notice less PMS, increased fertility, and improved skin while men notice increased libido and better sleep. Maca is also high in minerals and essential fatty acids, making it great for hormones.
Magnesium – Magnesium supports hundreds of reactions in the body and often contributes to better sleep, which is great for hormones! The recommended daily intake of magnesium is around 300 milligrams for women and 350 milligrams for men. To boost your magnesium, add a handful of almonds, hazelnuts, or cashews to any salad or oatmeal, increase your whole grain intake, including bran cereals,and add fish to your diet, especially halibut.
Magnesium is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body, including the break down of glucose into energy. If you continually find yourself lacking energy, instead of reaching for another cup of java, try upping your magnesium levels.
Fermented Cod Liver Oil – This oil provides many of the necessary building blocks for hormone production including Vitamins A, D, and K. It’s also a great source of Omega-3 and beneficial fats.
As a society, we’re so quick to reach for that cup of coffee to boost our energy and mood. Instead, try incorporating or increasing the use of these mood enhancers:
Include B vitamins – all the B vitamins are known to be great mood enhancers, and can also help control stress!
Include Vitamin D – low D levels are associated with depression, therefore a healthy level of D will help improve your mood.
Decrease your caffeine intake – too much caffeine will not only raise your cortisol, but can increase feelings of anxiety.
Decrease artificial sweeteners – opt for organic cane sugar, coconut sugar, or stevia instead.
Decrease or eliminate alcohol as it can throw off hormone balance.
Ensure you’re eating proper portions of lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats through the day.
Get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day! This will work as your best natural mood enhancer as it releases endorphins.
If after incorporating these suggestions, you still find yourself feeling sluggish, moody, or just not quite right, you might need to pay your family physician or naturopath a visit. Be sure to detail the symptoms you’re experiencing, and how long they’ve lasted, so your health care provider can assess your thyroid function and your cortisol levels.