In honor of the recent International Women’s Day, I’d like to touch on some aspects of women’s wellbeing which I feel are becoming increasingly important to balance and maintain good health.
Some of the most common issues I see regarding women’s hormonal issues are oestrogen dominance and low progesterone levels. Both progesterone and oestrogen are predominantly made in the ovaries. The adrenal glands (which sit on top of the kidneys) also produce progesterone. However, if there is high body fat tissue percentage in the body, the fat tissue will start to produce smalls amounts of oestrogen.
During times of stress when our innate fight or flight system kicks in, the adrenal glands will also produce cortisol and adrenaline. This lowers the body’s ability to produce progesterone, and as stress causes inflammation, it means we hold on to excess body fat which can quite quickly create a higher oestrogen to progesterone ratio.
The side effects of this imbalance can be identified as:
Bloating, swelling and tenderness in your breasts, fibrocystic lumps in your breasts, decreased sex drive, irregular menstrual periods, increased symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), mood swings, headaches, anxiety and panic attacks, weight gain, hair loss, cold hands or feet, trouble sleeping, sleepiness or fatigue and memory problems.
Note: Of course, discernment and investigation is needed, as these symptoms cover a range of issues; say if you just had weight gain and headaches you might not actually be oestrogen dominant.
Combating hormonal imbalance needs a holistic approach, as many hormonal imbalances come from mental and emotional stress. Hormones are like messengers for the body so when we have negative thoughts and belief systems continuously on replay our hormones will send feedback loops via the nervous system to different parts of the body.
We also generate negative emotions and these emotions can be stored within the cells within our body, as our cells will store memory of these emotions and belief systems, if we do not know how to release them in a healthy way.
If not released, the physical manifestations will be imbalances in vital body systems and systemic inflammation. All of which will lead to the systems above and in more chronic cases diseases/illnesses like endometriosis and Poly Cystic Ovaries Syndrome.
Firstly, look at your stress levels, look at how you perceive situations to be and your level of stress responses to them. This will allow you to identify how quickly your body reacts to stress. For example, if you become stressed and you feel it instantly in your gut, butterflies, feel sick, need to go to the bathroom, you are very sensitive to stress.
Note chronic stress on this level will create digestive issues for you also which could be causing you gut problems, which will also prevent absorb of nutrients that keep your body nourished and in balance. So, as you can see stress is the most important thing to get under control, and for more people the hardest thing, due to the lives we are living today.
As everyone’s situation is different it is hard to give blanket solutions in this brief article to all scenarios. If you are interested in a holistic approach to your health get in touch with me and we can discuss your options. Here today I will offer FIVE brief actions you can easily add into your day that will make you feel better and break up the length your flight or fight stress responses are firing in your day.
BREATHE, sounds silly right but I bet you rarely remember to breathe properly. This is deep consciousness breathing. When you breathe in you are pushing your belly out, and when you breath out, you suck the belly in. Most people breath from the chest and this keeps tension in the stomach and pelvic areas – all related to digestion, liver, sex hormones, adrenals and sexual organs.
Go outside and stand in the grass barefooted and with the trees and GROUND. Grounding has now become more popular recognising that the earth has magnetic fields and so do we so by connecting to the earth consciously and visualising sending our energy into it we can come more into the moment and at peace within ourselves- letting go of our worries and gaining clarity and perspective.
HEART HUGS. You will notice that when most people hug they will hug to the right side. This stops a greater trust connection forming and closes off the heart to sharing love.
When we do a heart to heart hug, you are allowing greater loved to be shared, so hugging from the left side. For those who aren’t so affectionate this could be pushing you out of your comfort zone. Give it a go try it with a loved one or friend first.
Hold it for longer than you normally automatically would. Breathe, when most people hug they forget to breathe, just let go and melt into it. Studies have now shown that with hugs the feel-good nurturing hormones like Oxytocin are released.
So, this will send loads of positive nervous systems messengers around the body reducing inflammation and boosting mental and emotional health.
REST. Another hard thing to accomplish but add it into your routine. Take an Epsom salt bath, you can add relaxing essential oils. Maximum 20 minutes long. The magnesium will help you body and nervous system to relax and you are allowing yourself time to rest and feel nurtured.
Do something you love to do that you don’t give yourself time to do anymore i.e. even if that means read a good book for an hour or sit among nature and absorb your surroundings.
CREATE. Take time to create. This doesn’t have to mean you paint a masterpiece; this could mean cooking, baking, gardening, scrapbooking, meditating, make a vision board of your desires, day dreaming even! To create means to bring something into existence so when we are thinking/ visualising we are also creating! When we create we are allowing ourselves to be playful, like a child, this releases joy, peace, energy and love.
Balancing Hormones and nutrients!
Again, this is a very individualised scenario and always a nourishing diet with a variety of nutrient-dense foods is recommended but some key nutrients to be more aware of to boost progesterone levels in the body are:
Vitex (herbal supplement) helps stimulate your brain to produce more LH (Luteinizing Hormone), which is responsible for the production of progesterone in the female body
Zinc, prompts the pituitary gland to secrete follicle stimulating hormones, which help promote ovulation in the female body. You can get zinc from red meat, seafood, cacao, green vegetables, wholegrains.
Magnesium is extremely important in helping you maintain the nervous system and hormonal balance in your body. You can get magnesium from nuts, seeds, green leafy vegetables, whole grains and black beans. However, due to our high levels of stress often a magnesium supplement is needed. Sandersons Magnesium FX from healthpost.co.nz is a good pick.
Vitamin C has said to increase progesterone and is a strong antioxidant for stress management, you can easily get this from lemons, oranges, pineapple, broccoli and green leafy vegetables.
Vitamin E has a similar effect to Vitex above in that it helps assist the luteal phase of a women’s cycle supporting the increase of progesterone. You can get vitamin from healthy fats like avocado, olive oil, almonds, pumpkin/ sunflower seeds etc.