What every woman needs to know about their hormones - Part 4

In Part 4 of the series, Nicki goes into her simple 4 step solution to balancing your hormones for good.

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In Parts 1, 2 and 3 of this series, I talked about your main Feisty 4 hormones and the big dietary and lifestyle factors that can disrupt them. In this final part, I want to talk solutions! I'll show you my simple 4 step system to allow you to naturally rebalance your Feisty 4 so that they can start working for you, not against you.

Hormones need nutrient dense foods, rest and repair time, a clean environment and a healthy active body. If you follow these steps you can give your hormones the tools they need to look after you back.

Step 1 EAT

Every time you put food (or drink) in your mouth, it sends a signal to your body. Food is not just a source of calories. It’s information. And your choice determines what that message will be. Will it support your hormones or disrupt them? Will it tell your cells to store fat or burn it? Will it give you lasting energy or crash you? You get the picture.

When you know which foods nourish your hormones, so that they can work with you not against you, then you can make the right choices and start to get the benefits of happy hormones.

Hormone Friendly Foods

✔ Protein – eg; organic meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, quinoa, spirulina, organic soy - good quality protein can help slow the release of sugar into the blood (reducing excess insulin), it builds hormones and repairs bone and muscle. It is also essential for your detoxification process

✔ Vegetables – they will supply plenty of vitamins, minerals, phyto-nutrients and fibre. Aim to fill half your plate with colourful veg at each meal.

✔ Fibre – eg whole grains, veg, fruit, oats, beans, seeds – fibre helps you get rid of waste, toxins and excess oestrogen

✔ Good fats – eg. nuts, seeds, olives, avocado, oily fish, eggs, organic meat, olive oil, coconut oil – these fats are essential for hormone function.
✔ Organic – where possible, choose organic produce. So much evidence now proves that pesticides used in conventional farming can mess with your hormones. Commercially raised animal produce contains less nutrients and can be more in inflammatory. Choose grass fed and organic meat, wild caught fish, organic dairy and organic eggs. I realise it’s not always possible, but if you try to get the best food you can afford, it will pay dividends.

✔ Hydration – water is very underrated! Every cell needs water, and hormones need it to be transported around the body. Water helps digestion and detoxification and increased water intake has also been shown to help with weight loss. Try to drink 2L (3.5 pints) of filtered water a day (including herbal teas). It helps if you drink a pint of water when you wake up – add some lemon juice to it to kick start your liver. Then keep a bottle or jug topped up throughout the day that you can sip (avoiding plastic if possible).

Hormone Disrupting foods

✘ Sugar – of course we want to avoid sugar, as it upsets your blood sugar balance and causes a lot of insulin release. Watch hidden sugars in processed foods, ready meals, baked goods, fruit smoothies, juices and LOW FAT products.

✘ Processed foods – foods with long lists of ingredients are to be avoided. These are food additives, preservatives, colours and flavourings that your body doesn’t recognize and some interfere with hormone function.

✘ Trans fats – many ready meals, spreads and packaged foods often contain vegetable oils as they are the cheapest oils to use (eg sunflower, safflower, canola). This type of fat is highly INFLAMMATORY, increasing cortisol in the body and the risk of developing a chronic disease. Margarines and spreads are made from re ned vegetable oil and are highly processed. Most ready meals, salad dressings, soups and other packaged goods are made with vegetable oils. That’s why it’s so important to look for real unprocessed foods and cook them yourself. You can use coconut oil, ghee, butter or animal fats for high heat cooking and good quality unrefined plant oils (olive, rapeseed, sesame) for dressing, as these oils can denature when you heat them, and turn into trans fats (olive oil is OK up to 180 degrees).

✘ Alcohol – alcohol not only weakens resolve (you know that insane hunger after a few too many), but it also disrupts blood sugar and depletes nutrients, especially the B vitamins which we need plenty of to make our hormones happy.

Step 2 REST

Stress reduction - it's really important to switch off your stress response on a daily basis. This helps to keep your cortisol balanced and in control. So schedule in some relax time, breathe and switch off, even if it's just a few minutes a day to start with. Mindfulness Apps are great for this.

It's also important to support your adrenal glands by ensuring you have enough nutrients for them to work well. This includes B vitamins, Vitamin C and magnesium.

Sleep – it’s hard to emphasise enough how important good quality sleep is. Not only is this the time your body heals, repairs and recharges, but lack of sleep raises your cortisol levels (see above) and increases your hunger hormones! Yikes, tired AND hungry the next day is not good. Science is showing that sleep deprivation has a massive effect on your health.

So make sure you are prioritising your sleep. Get to bed by 10.30pm if you're up early, switch off your gadgets a couple of hours before that, make sure your room is dark (artificial light interferes with melatonin production), don't eat too late and do some relaxation before bed.

Step 3 - Cleanse

Toxins are all around us. In the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink and the products we use. The WHO (World Health Organisation) stated in 2012 that there are 800 or so chemicals that are known to interfere with hormones. As women, we are particularly at risk. We use a lot more personal products than men and on top of that we have more hormones to detoxify, so our livers can be very stressed. While you can’t avoid toxins completely, you can do a lot to minimise your exposure.

✔ Swap plastic bottles and containers for glass or stainless steel. BPA in plastic can mimic your oestrogen and cause hormone disruption

✔ Swap harsh cleaning products for more eco brands

✔ Check your household and personal products for 'fragrance' in the ingredients (worst offenders are perfume, air fresheners and scented candles!). This means there are chemicals called phthalates in there that are really bad for your hormones. Have a look for brands that don't use synthetic fragrances - www.biggreensmile.com is a great start.

Step 4 - Move

Exercise is critical for hormone function. It helps to increase blood flow and get oxygen and nutrients into your cells. It can reduce stress, improve mood, burn more fat, increase muscle, support bone health and strengthen your heart and lungs. But getting the right balance between too little and too much is very important. You need to find your own sweet spot, but here are some of my favourite activities for hormone health;

✔ Sit less - take regular breaks from sitting (set an alarm to go off every hour)

✔ Walk more - make an effort to walk more - it can be as beneficial as jogging if you walk enough!

✔ HIIT - high intensity interval training has huge benefits for your hormones - be careful if you are not fit to start with and always check with your doctor if unsure

✔ Yoga - my favourite all round exercise for hormone health - it increases strength and flexibility as well as being a good stress reducer

If you follow these general principles you will start to rebalance your hormones and when that happens you can finally achieve lasting weight loss, boundless energy, balanced moods and a clear head.

If you would like to speak to me on a free call to ask me any questions or find out how we can help you, please contact me at nicki@happyhormonesforlife.com.

Nicki Williams

Hormone Nutritionist, speaker & author - helping women to rebalance their hormones, reclaim their health and feel better than ever, www.happyhormonesforlife.com

After failing to find any medical help for her symptoms of exhaustion, weight gain & hormone issues in her early 40’s, Nicki discovered that she could turn things around using diet, lifestyle and natural supplements. She is now an award-winning nutritionist, author, speaker and founder of Happy Hormones For Life, helping women all over the world with her hormone and health testing, online programmes, workshops & individual & group coaching.