Hormone health is beyond important which is why we’ve teamed up with Mays Al-Ali, a Naturopathic Nutritionist to talk about balancing your hormones to improve your hormone health.
Our hormones are complex and sensitive. Our endocrine system is extremely intricately designed and can get disturbed too easily. I work with my clients to help them introduce not only new eating habits but new lifestyle techniques to help balance their hormones using the following tips.
WELLBEING TIPS TO BALANCE HORMONES
A healthy mind
Your brain is at its best first thing in the morning so meditating first thing when you wake up is a wonderful way to start the day, try the app Headspace for easy to follow guided meditations either first thing or last thing before sleep is also wonderful.
Breathe in for 4, hold for 3 and let go for 6. Simply keep repeating this, feel the ribcage expand & the chest rise and fall. And take each breath with intention and presence, and you’ll feel a little calmer than before. Try this before bed for a super restful sleep.
Keep a gratitude list and write down 3-5 things you are grateful for each day when you wake up – a lovely way to start the day.
Wake your body up through stretching and yoga
Start the day with some gentle stretching, place a mat near your bed and just jump on it and move your body in any way that feels good. There are lots of good yoga resources online – all the top yoga studios are offering online classes like Triyoga & Indaba and some of them on demand too.
Exercising first thing in the morning activates your metabolism and brightens your mood for the rest of the day. Or if you don’t have time for this, try a lunchtime exercise such as a bicycle ride through a park or walking in nature – so much positive research on the benefits of walking in nature to boost your energy levels not to mention uplifting your mood and helping to balance hormones.
PRIORITISE YOUR SLEEP
Our bodies work on a regular circadian rhythm that if it gets imbalanced can negatively affect our hormones. Try practising good “sleep hygiene.”
What is sleep hygiene?
‘Sleep hygiene‘ means habits that help you have a good night’s sleep. Common sleeping problems (such as insomnia) are often caused by bad habits reinforced over years or even decades. Here’s how to improver your sleep hygine to in turn improve your hormone health.
Good sleep hygiene
Get to bed at the same time every evening, ideally by 10 p.m. And follow the same general routine each evening to wind down. Start a bedtime routine 30 mins before you want to sleep – dim the lights, use some essential oils (lavender is great for sleep) and read a book.
Get at least 7-8 hours sleep and turn off all electronic devices at least 2 hours before bedtime. If you must look at a screen get some cheap blue light removing glasses from amazon & wear those at night – this stops the blue light from laptops/phones from entering our pupils – this blue light reduces the production of melatonin the hormone produced by our bodies that is essential for sleep.
Stop eating way before bed
Try to avoid eating heavily before sleep – ideally, you wouldn’t eat 4 hours before bed, but if you are home late from work and haven’t eaten, try to eat lightly – try to plan your day if this is happening so you eat earlier so you aren’t so hungry when you get home – large meals just before sleep will really reduce the quality of your sleep.
Don’t drink too much before bed
If you have a week bladder then try not to drink too many liquids beyond 6 pm as otherwise, you may end up having to get up to go to the loo in the middle of the night disrupting sleep…
Still can’t unwind? Botanicals such as valerian, lemon balm, passionflower & chamomile can support healthy stress response and promote restorative sleep. There’s a great herbal supplement called Tranquility that has lots of these that you can get from Amrita an online store.
Restful sleep contributes to a positive mood, improves memory and even helps support a healthy inflammatory response in the body. It allows you to recover physically, mentally and emotionally, so you’re ready to take on the next day with boosted energy levels.
EAT REAL FOODS FOR ENERGY
A key aspwect of balancing your hormones and hormone health is through your diet. Eat fresh and natural foods for maximum nutrition and antioxidants with lots of organic veggies, fresh salads. Use seasonal locally sourced fruits and veggies such as root vegetables and apples, plums and pears in winter months.
How much of what?
NHS recommends 5 portions of fruit and veg a day but as a nutritionist, I would say its best to aim for 10. That way you can boost your seasonal veggie quota increasing nutrients for maximum hormone supporting benefits. For example, cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, radish are all amazing for female hormones. They help to balance oestrogen levels as they contain high amounts of indole-3-carbinol, which gets broken down in your body to the active form known as DIM – so eat these in plentiful supply.
What to avoid?
The standard Western diet, high in refined carbs, saturated fat, processed foods & food additives wreaks havoc with our endocrine system & hormones. Food additives, including glucose, preservatives, flavour enhancers (such as MSG), GMO soy, artificial sweeteners, bulking agents, thickeners and gums, cause increased gut inflammation, leading to leaky gut syndrome.
Low-calorie drinks containing artificial sweeteners wreak havoc with digestion causing bloating/diarrhoea & IBS. And if our gut is disturbed this will have a negative impact on every other system in our body including our hormones and hormone health.
Refined carbs vs complex carbs
Swap white processed refined carbs for slow energy release complex carbs. Complex carbs release glucose into the blood gradually, providing the body with a steady supply of energy, plus they are a great source of fibre and great for digestive health. So go for brown rice, brown pasta/wholemeal bread/flours and use sweet potato instead of white potato at home. If you see salads go for quinoa/buckwheat (you can get these in Pret/Leon) and make the most of cheap, filling legumes/beans/pulses/chickpeas as these will all help improve energy levels.
Examples snacks are chopped carrots/cucumbers or oatcakes dipped in hummus or snack on seeds/nuts. Excess white refined carbs and sugars are terrible for our hormones so it’s important to limit these. Also limit dairy which is a big endocrine disruptor as its high sugar too.
Protein and hormone health
Another macro surce that is perfect as an energy boost is protein. It keeps you full for longer and helps to balance blood sugars to avoid that energy crash that often happens after sugary snacks. Which in turn keep hormones balanced. So you can snack on a couple of boiled eggs, or a handful of nuts or seeds. Or celery sticks & hummus or edamame, all high protein healthy snacks guaranteed to boost energy levels without a crash.
I love boosting my protein with a good quality clean vegan protein powder. Nuzest vanilla is so yummy and very clean. If you use the code HEALTHYMAYS you get 15% off at checkout.
The importance of water
Water is essential for life. 70% of our bodies are water and H2O is involved in many cellular functions, including hormone production. Not drinking enough water may lead to dehydration, which can slow down body functions, leaving you feeling sluggish and tired. Drink at least 2 litres per day (more if you exercise and sweat a lot or live in a hot climate) and avoid drinking around your meals to avoid indigestion and allow digestive juices to flow and not be washed away. Buy a reusable water bottle to help you track your water.
Does Coffee affect my hormone health?
Coffee is rich in caffeine which quickly passes from your bloodstream to your brain and helps increase the production of adrenalin and cortisol. This stimulate the body and brain making you feel alert and focused but it can make you come crashing down afterwards negatively impacting your hormones. Actually we’ve already written about why you should be cutting out coffee here.
As well as that caffeine has a very long half-life (5-6 hours!). This means that 5-6 hours later 50% of the caffeine is still in your bloodstream. Due to this most sleep researchers do not recommend drinking coffee after 11 am. Reaching for that coffee in the afternoons when feeling tired and sluggish can have a vicious circle effect of increasing tiredness since it will most certainly affect the quality of your sleep.
As well as that coffee is very acidic on the digestive system. So having it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach is not ideally recommended. Things like matcha or green tea are both incredibly beneficial in terms of antioxidants and L-theanine both very calming on the brain. They also contain lots of energy-boosting caffeine so if you really don’t have time to eat first thing, go for a matcha latte or green tea as its much less acidic on the digestion. But again like coffee, these should be avoided in the afternoons too.
Hopefully these tips on how to balance your hormone health has been helpful. If you’d like more Healthy Mays nutrition, lifestyle or yoga tips get in touch to book in for a 1-1 consultation.
I can offer 10% off the first consultation for anyone who reads this article and gets in touch & offer a free 15-minute exploratory phone call. Use www.healthymays.com or [email protected] to book in.